A frat boy asks: "Should I call you in the morning, or nudge you?" Neither, as it turns out, though his luck might have been better if he hadn't come at me with a neon Sex on the Beach.
Years later, at the Windsor Court's new Cocktail Bar, I come across a cocktail that's more persuasive. I'm short on time, but intrigued by a drink drenched in Damiana, a Mexican liqueur.
In its straight state - poured from a bust-shaped bottle - Damiana is sunny-shimmery, with sweet hints of chamomile, warm nutmeg and a playful bite of white pepper. It's derived from a plant that's illegal in Louisiana, caught up in the state's 2010 crackdown on synthetic pot.
In its home country, this 60-proof spirit is treated as an aphrodisiac (Mexican newlyweds get a bottle for the honeymoon), feeding its rep as a mood changer.
Christine Jeanine Nielsen, mixologist at Cocktail Bar, uses it expertly in her own Che's Bouquet. Her drink - romance built on rambunctious tequila, a nude neutral color against the lush mum garnish - suggests an earthy sexiness.
I liked it so much that, even with the clock ticking down on an appointment, I lingered at the bar to finish it, seeking out the diamond Damiana crystals at the bottom. As with all successful suitors, I'd been helpless to resist.
Written by Christine Jeanine Nielsen, courtesy of Cocktail Bar in the Windsor Court Hotel
- Salt for rim
- Damiana sugar*
- 4 raspberries
- 2 oz. tequila (Lunazul Blanco)
- 1 oz. Damiana
- 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 0.5 oz. Lillet Rouge
Salt half the rim of a margarita or rocks glass; add a small scoop of Damiana sugar at the bottom. Combine raspberries through Lillet Rouge in shaker with ice; strain into the glass. (No need to muddle the berries; the ice will break them up.)
*Combine 1 cup sugar and ½ cup Damiana in pan, and stir over low heat until it dissolves. Bring it to a sugary boil, and leave it alone until the mixture appears clear (about 10 minutes). Pour it over a silicon mat and let cool.