Cocktail Challenge: nopales | Cocktail Challenge | Chicago Reader

Cocktail Challenge: nopales 

A cactus cocktail from Duchamp's Kris van Dopek

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Challenged with nopales, cactus paddles, by Henri mixologist Clint Rogers, Duchamp beverage program manager Kris von Dopek decided to use them in a reduction flavored with tamarind, pear nectar, and chocolate mole bitters. The finished drink, he says, is complex: "first the citrus, tamarind, and spices hit you, then the herbaceousness of the nopales, and finally the smoke from the mezcal." Opuntia is the genus name for the species of cactus also known as prickly pear. —Kate Schmidt

click to enlarge ANDREA BAUER

Veritas en Opuntia

2 oz mezcal
1.5 oz nopales reduction*
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz apple cider


Earl Grey bitters mist
candied nopales**

Place the nopales reduction, lime juice, apple cider, and mezcal in a mixing glass. Add ice, cap, and shake vigorously. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with a spray of the Earl Grey bitters (von Dopek makes his own) and a few small strips of candied nopales.

*Nopales reduction

1 lb. fresh nopales pads
4 oz. dried tamarind
10 oz. pear nectar
6 dashes Bitter Truth chocolate mole bitters

Combine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer slowly for 30 minutes. Put mixture into a Vita-Prep blender and blend at high speed, then strain through a very fine chinois.
**To candy nopales, slice them, quickly boil them, and dredge them in sugar.

Who's Next:

Von Dopek has challenged Luke LeFiles of Hot Chocolate with kimchi. "I'll never hear the end of it from my peers if I decline so I have to accept," he said via e-mail.

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