Thursday, August 14, 2008

D'Aristi Xtabentun

All Hail Tina!

"T.Mixeur, who is this Tina of whom you speak?"

Why, none other than the manager of the Crown Hill liquor store at 78th St and 15th Ave, my neighborhood liquor store, my stop-off point for what potion resides in my thoughts but not my cabinet.

"And why do we hail her?"

Because of her absolutely lovely whims.

".......??"

She had a whim, you see, to order up some D'Aristi Xtabentun (pronounced d'aristi xtabentun). She didn't know what it was, it just called to her, as if it were a 20-1 shot pony.

And I had a whim to go in there one day, and found me three bottles of that sweet sweet Mayan honey anisette liqueur. I had been introduced to the concept when Murray at Zig Zag (as opposed to Murray at Allstate Auto Insurance) made a drink with it for Paula "Ajeticha" Fallen Star Nicole Jenkins one evening. I was given a more thorough introduction months later by Jay at Sambar (as opposed to Jay at Bally's Gym).

Now it was mine, to experiment with to my heart's content. It is a very pleasant and tricky little liqueur, with a vanilla-y (or if your prefer, "vanilli") scent, and a stubborn heaviness to its texture that holds its shape no matter what it's mixed with. Throw some base spirit, other liqueurs, bitters, juices, wines, or whatever at it, and it still seems to settle with the same weight, into the center of the tongue and caress it for a moment. I kept wanting to call this its "honeyed heaviness," but had a feeling that wasn't my term. I was sure some cocktail writer or mixologist had used it. Then i remembered it was Mary Oliver, in the poem "Peonies."

An excerpt:

"...and they open ---
pools of lace,
white and pink ---
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities..."

Pretty well sums up the relationship between liquor stores and cocktail enthusiasts, don't you think?

After many experiments I found something that I think is worth sharing. I think I will call it, Peonie.

Peonie

1 oz gin
1/2 oz D'Aristi Xtabentun
1/2 oz Canton Ginger Liqueur
1/2 oz Lillet Blonde
1/2 oz lemon
4 dashes peach bitters

shake and strain into a cocktail glass
(I double strained because I'm, you know, that way)

And the same thing works, albeit differently, when substituting the lemon with lime. This one will be known as Tina's Whim.

Tina's Whim

1 oz gin
1/2 oz D'Aristi Xtabentun
1/2 oz Canton Ginger Liqueur
1/2 oz Lillet Blonde
1/2 oz lime
4 dashes peach bitters

shake and strain into a cocktail glass
(I didn't double strain this one because I was feeling weird about being that way)

Tina told me she was shocked at how fast the stuff flew off the shelves. She thought that it would be one of those things that lingered for months, but the 6 bottles they ordered were gone in 3 days. I urged her to order more, assuring her that they would continue to move. We'll see...

What the hell? Rock star poet Mary Oliver ladies and gentlemen...

Peonies by Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open ---
pools of lace,
white and pink ---
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities ---
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again ---
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?


from New And Selected Poems by Mary Oliver

(c) Mary Oliver





5 comments:

Stevi Deter said...

Dang. We never get anything cool in the Redmond store.

T. Mixeur said...

You must learn the fine art of begging at the foot of your local liquor store manager.

jevusrice said...

I have had a bottle of D'Aristi Xtabentun sitting atop my refrigerator for some time now, without knowing how to enjoy it. I decided to mix it with sweet and sour. It's quite good, but is lacking something. I never thought to add gin...

Anonymous said...

T.K. DeAce - I discovered Xtabentun in an under water bar in Cancun and had to bring mu wife over to try it. We both LOVE it straight and until today didn't know it was available anywhere but Cancun. Our son has brought us a supply, twice.

Oh, its pronunciation is "Shta ben toon."

Anonymous said...

I confirm, it's a sweet liquor with anis and honey and you can find it at the free tax shop of Cancun airport near the tequila bottles.