Few things transform a cocktail in more exciting ways than fresh herbs. The spicy, earthy, and borderline heavenly scent of living spices—like rosemary, sage, mint, and in this case, oregano—add powerful depth and surprising complexity to well-trodden formulas. Even better, these sophisticated upgrades can be procured by doling out two dollars and (maybe) fifty cents at the local grocery store. It's a refreshing refrain from the pricey and often elusive liquor labels requested in many recipes.
Compared to other herbs, fresh oregano packs a wallop. This makes it a fitting choice for this drink, which is pumped full of big flavors. The nose is complex, with smoke, pepper, and earth emanating from the mixture of mezcal, anise and oregano. Once sipped, the pastis, yellow chartreuse, and mezcal come together shockingly well for a fun, sophisticated, and wildly adventurous drinking experience.
Oregano has pop, and can easily hijack a drink. Take care to use only 4 or 5 sprigs when muddling, and don’t mind being frugal when garnishing. The muddling process means this drink can be made on the spot without any preparation, and while the double strain is nice, it isn’t really necessary. If you do have a fine strainer, pour the drink from the shaker through the second strainer into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a small sprig of oregano.
This recipe, along with countless other delectable concoctions, can be found in the iconic PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan.