Chiles are an ongoing obsession for us – they’ve been the focus of much experimentation in the kitchen, inspired several out-of-the-way excursions, and necessitated a few white lies at international border-crossings. (You mean spices are plants?)
Anchos are particularly fascinating, with their complex fruitiness, woodiness, and earthiness. They’re a staple in our pantry, and their flavour enjoys pride of place in the liquor cabinet, too, thanks to Licor Ancho Reyes – a sensational spirit we discovered on a recent trip to Mexico.
Traditionally, many Mexican villages concocted their own signature menjunje – a blend of local plants and spirits – and the Reyes family is credited with creating the first of such libations to feature ancho. Their original 1920s recipe is recreated in this modern spirit, which was launched last year. We first tasted it while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, in a little cocktail bar that specialized in Manhattans. I’d never had one before, and the bartender took great pride in explaining the difference between a sweet, dry, and perfect Manhattan: the first uses only red vermouth, the second only white, and the third an equal mix of both.