Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bottle Swap: Ancho Reyes

Ancho Reyes

It's week 2 of my bottle swap with Mr. Muddle! If you missed it, check out last week's cocktails made with The King's Ginger. This week we're working with the bottle that was at the top of my wish list, Ancho Reyes. Before you read on, be sure to check out Mr. Muddle's cocktail, The Pope of Chili Town!

Ancho Reyes is a liqueur is flavored with ancho chiles, which are dried and smoked poblano peppers. A neutral sugar cane spirit is steeped with the peppers for six months, then aged. According to the makers of Ancho Reyes, it's based on a recipe from 1927. Back then, cantinas in the town of Puebla, Mexico each served their own menjurjes, spirits made with local ingredients. The Reyes family created one with the local dried poblanos that was the inspiration for Ancho Reyes. But though the recipe is old, the spirit itself is quite new; it was created in 2014.

For a great virtual tour of the distillery and the process of making Ancho Reyes from field to bottle, check out Alcademics.

Ancho Reyes

Price: $40
Alcohol Content: 40%
Popular Cocktails: Ancho Margarita, Ancho Old Fashioned... basically add it to any tequila cocktail!

I knew Ancho Reyes would be great for adding a bit of spice to cocktails, but what I didn't expect was its complexity and drinkability. When you first sip it, you get the richness and sweetness of the aging process. Then the spice of the ancho chiles hits you, lingering on your palate. As cocktail ingredients go, it's pretty killer. It's an instant, spicy facelift to anything you add it to. The first thing I made with it was a Margarita, subbing it in for triple sec, and I couldn't believe how great it was. I'm not sure I want to make them without it anymore.

Bonfire cocktail

Since the thing that surprised me about Ancho Reyes were those flavors up front, and since they seemed kind of perfect for autumn, I decided to play up the spices and sweetness. I originally wanted to make a bourbon cocktail, but I have to say, the Ancho Reyes just sings with tequila. Tequila anejo aged in bourbon barrels gave me those same smooth vanilla and caramel notes while blending perfectly with the Ancho. I added mezcal for smoke and Besamim by Sukkah Hill Spirits for some autumn spices. (I'm guessing you could sub Allspice Dram but I'm not sure - I don't have a bottle yet. Bottle swap, anyone??) Punt e Mes helped bind it all together.

I think this is a pretty great cocktail. At first you get the sweetness of the Punt e Mes, the Besamim, and flavors of cloves, vanilla, and cinnamon. It drinks like a bourbon cocktail for a split second. Then the mezcal and Ancho Reyes hit you, and you get the smoke and spice at the end of your sip. I can't imagine anything more perfect for a chilly fall day. One of these will warm you right up.


1 1/2 oz. tequila anejo (I used Espolon)
1/2 oz. Ancho Reyes
1/2 oz. Punt e Mes
1/4 oz. mezcal
1/4 oz. Besamim or Allspice Dram

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with a burnt cinnamon stick.


  1. Pretty jealous you got to keep this bottle, it looks great in pics. Love the whisp of smoke in the cocktail shot too. I seriously might make this tonight, though I'll have to use Allspice Dram in lieu of Besamim.

  2. This looks delicious, and I love the idea of the smoking cinnamon stick!

    Question: what sorts of bottles did you use for the swap? I'm looking to do some bottle swaps of my own, and I'm trying to figure out some decent bottles for decanting liquor into that also pour well, which is a more difficult challenge than you'd think. There are plenty of glass bottles out there that pour ok, but not great. The only ones I have found to be completely drip-proof are the Onos Saft Bottles, because they have a plastic lip. Do you have any recommendations?

    1. Good question! I just used a mason jar to give Mr. Muddle his half, but he used a much prettier bottle that looked something like this. I think it pours about as well as a typical liquor bottle - definitely not entirely drip-proof, but good! Another idea would be to save empties and remove the labels.

      Let me know if you end up doing a swap, and what bottles you choose!