Fresh squeezed juices, especially citrus, are commonplace on cocktail menus, but rarely are they made with fennel. The Calafia comes from San Francisco bartender Anthony Parks during his tenure at Finn Town. In it, fennel juice lends freshness and subtle anise notes to a tequila-forward highball. While unorthodox, it comes together as a layered, intricate and refreshing drink.
Parks uses Cimarron blanco tequila as the base of the cocktail, but, as with most tequila drinks like the Margarita or Paloma, you can substitute your favorite brand without altering the flavors too much. Just be sure to use a blanco tequila rather than a darker, aged one. Similarly, you can swap the El Silencio mezcal for another espadin mezcal of your choice (luckily, the majority of mezcals are made with espadin agave). The slight amount of mezcal in the cocktail adds subtle smoke and earthiness without overwhelming the tequila-forward flavor.
The fennel juice is the true star of the show, though. If you have a juicer at home it will be a breeze to make. Simply throw a few fennel bulbs into the juicer and be greeted with aromatic, anise-tinged root juice. If you don’t have access to a juicer, then a blender is the way to go. Add a few bulbs to a blender and top with water, then pulse until they reach a fine consistency. Strain the juice through a cheesecloth to separate out the pulp and solids.
Though it takes a bit of work to build, the Calafia is a bright and vivid highball with unique botanical notes thanks to the fennel. Plus, you can always use the fennel juice in other drinks, playing around with what works and what doesn’t.
- 1 1/2 ounces Cimarron blanco tequila
- 1/2 ounce El Silencio espadin mezcal
- 1 1/2 ounces fennel juice (juice of fennel bulbs)
- 1/2 ounce agave syrup
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- Club soda, to top
- Garnish: fennel fronds
- Garnish: fennel pollen
Add the blanco tequila, espadin mezcal, fennel juice, agave syrup and lime juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice.
Top with club soda.
Garnish with fennel fronds and fennel pollen.