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Sotol: A Spirit with Soul

By November 26, 2019 No Comments

By June Naylor
Photos courtesy of Exposed by Light

Texas’ moonshine hooch is making a splash. The spirit, called sotol, is made from the evergreen sotol (also known as desert spoon), a plant that thrives in Mexico’s high desert and the arid Trans-Pecos region of far West Texas. A kissing cousin of tequila and soul sister of mezcal, the slightly smoky liquor with a strong Mexican lineage is made by Desert Door, the only American distillery making sotol. Based in Driftwood — known for giving the world The Salt Lick BBQ — Desert Door makes its sotol utilizing wild-harvested plants from a 200,000-acre spread in West Texas. (Historians say Native Americans were fermenting sotol some 7,000 years ago, so it must be good, right?) The original version is herbaceous, with grassy, earthy notes mingling with vanilla on the nose and a bit of cinnamon and citrus on the palate. The oak-aged version provides all of that with a little cedar, allspice and maybe even eucalyptus in the mix. Best of all, it’s a wonderfully versatile white liquor; use it in recipes as you might gin, tequila or mezcal. Distinctive for its cobalt-blue bottle with gold print, find Desert Door Original Texas Sotol ($39.99) at Spec’s and Goody Goody; the oak-aged version sells for $49.99 a bottle. Visit the distillery’s tasting room at 211 Darden Hill Road, Driftwood, 512-829-6129, desertdoor.com.

Desert Paloma

Serves 1

  • 1½ ounces Desert Door Original Texas Sotol
  • 1½ ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce agave nectar
  • Dash of grapefruit bitters or shrub (optional)

Combine all ingredients in shaker. Add ice, and shake vigorously for 8 to 10 seconds. Strain into rocks glass.

Add fresh ice and garnish with a wheel of grapefruit.