Congratulations to the bar team at Cosme, the 2023 MICHELIN Guide New York, Exceptional Cocktail Award Winner, sponsored by Basil Hayden!
Home to bold Mexican flavors and contemporary interiors, what sets Cosme apart from the rest is an inventive list of cocktails focused on agave spirits. To beverage manager Jorsand Diaz, the magic is in the stories behind the drinks themselves. "Just like in cuisine, cocktails and spirits have a rich history shaped by their place of origin that continues to evolve to this day," Diaz explains. "I fell in love with that."
Since then, Diaz has dedicated his career to transforming these stories into deliciously refreshing cocktails that serve as a gateway to crafting memorable experiences while introducing guests to new and unique ingredients.
How were you introduced to the world of cocktails?
Like many in our industry, I stumbled into it by chance. I needed a part-time job in college, and a friend recommended me as a server. While working in my first restaurant, I learned about the fascinating stories behind the cocktails I was serving, and fell in love with how just like in cuisine, cocktails and spirits have a rich history shaped by their place of origin that continues to evolve to this day. Since then, I’ve been dedicated to learning from and evolving these stories through the cocktails I now make.
How has your relationship with cocktails changed?
When I first started making cocktails, I was focused on mastering the classics. Now, I create cocktails to serve as a gateway for crafting memorable experiences and introducing our guests to new spirits and unique ingredients.
What are you drinking these days?
Pechuga mezcal made with Tobalá agave by the distillery Real Minero. This is a very small batch of mezcal produced by the Angeles Carreño family in Santa Catarina Minas, Oaxaca, using a recipe that’s been passed down for generations. They distill the mezcal three separate times in clay pots, and during the final distillation, they add seasonal fruit, spices, and a creole pechuga (which means poultry breast in Spanish). The result is an incredibly complex agave spirit, with a velvety texture and hints of dried fruit sweetness, clove, and allspice.
Favorite non-alcoholic drink?
My favorite non-alcoholic drinks are agua frescas, which you can find versions of everywhere in Mexico. At Cosme, we make a creamy and refreshing avocado agua fresca by blending ripe avocados and jasmine pearl tea with a touch of agave nectar.
How have your cocktail tastes changed over the years?
Over the years, I have leaned more toward creating cocktails that highlight seasonality and a sense of place. To blend Mexican heritage with New York tastes, I like to incorporate local ingredients from the Union Square farmer’s as well as native Latin American ingredients that we source from our most trusted purveyors.
What’s the biggest misconception about mixology or cocktails in general?
Using more expensive spirits is always better. This is simply not true. Price doesn’t always equate to quality—it’s more important to pick your spirit based on the flavor profile you're looking for and a style of production you stand behind.
With agave, we should also be asking about the brand’s agricultural practices (Are they using chemicals in their agave fields? Are they waiting for the agave plants to mature before harvesting?), production processes (Are there any artificial additives like flavoring agents?), and the relationship with the community and its workers.
What’s your ideal meal and pairing?
A classic pairing that I always enjoy is Cosme’s duck carnitas with our Tinto de la Casa, a blend of Nebbiolo, Grenache, and Merlot produced by Vena Cava in Baja, California. I would finish my meal with our classic corn husk meringue paired with Rare Wine Co’s Historic Series Baltimore Rainwater, a light Madeira that presents bright citrus flavors and a delicate salinity that plays well with the sweet corn and vanilla moments in the dessert.