Justin Whitman, the bar manager at Donkey admitted to us that when he and his staff have trouble coming up with cocktail names, they tend to lean on band names. Well bravo, team. The Velvet Underground manages not only to taste like a smoky NYC bar circa 1964, its Day-Glo orange also looks like it could have doubled as a prop in Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable.
The base spirit of the drink is mezcal, a cousin to tequila also made from the agave plant. But while tequila is made strictly from blue agave, mezcal is typically made with one or more of roughly 30 different types of agave. There is no definitive list of mezcal, which means if you wanted to take a dusty field trip to some scorched outposts on the dome of the earth looking for some original Mexican hooch, the South is yours! But for now, we'll stick to Donkey, who has the area’s most impressive list of the stuff.
The Velvet Underground keeps it simple, with the smoky, smooth taste of Mezcal powering through the titular Velvet Falernum’s lime, ginger and clove flavors, along with the bitter orange (that’s where the color comes from) of Aperol.
1 oz. Del Maguey Vida de San Luis del Rio Mezcal
1 oz. Aperol
1 oz. John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 nasturtium, for garnish
Pour Mezcal, both liqueurs and fresh lime juice into an iced cocktail shaker. Mix thoroughly, then pour into an iced rocks glass. Garnish with the nasturtium.
Donkey is located at 665 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids, donkeygr.com.
Watch the video tutorial below: