You’re trapped on a desert island, but the good news is that you can bring five bottles of booze with you to pass the time. Look, there’s even ice and bar tools—you’re all set. What would you choose?
Joaquín Simó knows his way around a lineup of booze. The former Tales of the Cocktail American Bartender of the Year was part of the opening team at Death & Co. Since then, he has opened Pouring Ribbons, where he's a partner along with his Alchemy Consulting crew.
When tasked with the desert-island challenge, Simó opted for a combination of well-known classics and hidden gems you'll be hard-pressed to find.
Pappy Van Winkle is on the wish list of many American whiskey drinkers, and Simó loves it as well. But he opts for the rye rather than the more well-known lineup of bourbon.
"My favorite American distillate of all-time," says Simó. "Bourbon lovers go on and on about the Pappy bourbons, but I'm more of a high-rye bourbon kinda guy, so wheaters don't tickle my fancy as much. But that one rye they make? Dear sweet mother of gawd! That is truly distilled unicorn tears. A textbook example of how elegantly a rye can age, with the grain's spiciness harmonizing beautifully with the oak."
"I have to admit to a small amount of bias in this particular selection since I’m part of the group of 'very special friends, dedicated connoisseurs, educators and cantineros’ credited on the bottle's back label with insisting that Ron Cooper bring this amazing espadin distillate to the U.S. for the first time," says Simó.
"We tasted it from a 50-gallon drum sitting in the distiller's living room and were absolutely floored by its delicate floral notes," he says. "Every time I taste it, I think about that trip to Oaxaca with some of my dearest friends and can't stop smiling as I raise a copita in their honor."
"A list of my go-to bottles couldn't omit my favorite category of wine,” says Simó. “Sherry—the pungent, bone-dry manzanilla is just what I want to wash down the ceviche I will undoubtedly be making for myself with the fish I will have caught. I say ceviche because I can't actually get a fire going to cook the fish, but regardless of my lack of Boy Scout skills, this sherry would pair beautifully with any seafood. Four-and-a-half years under flor and barely filtered, this stunning wine would ensure I only ever spoke Spanish to my volleyball friend."
Simó has gone for a few personal favorites, while also considering food pairings and brunch. Now, he's thinking about the cocktail he couldn't do without. "You can't expect me to be stranded on a beach and not drink Daiquiris all the time," he says. "This would make an unbelievably decadent Daiquiri, what with a decade spent in oak barrels and another six years in freshly emptied oloroso casks," says Simó. "Bottled at a highly civilized 103-proof, I could happily sip this smoky nectar neat or in rum Old Fashioneds until that cursed day when I was rescued."
"This is my favorite aquavit on the planet," says Simó. "Redolent with caraway, anise and fennel, it augments its six-month oak-cask maturation with another two months in an oloroso sherry cask. Glorious as a sipper or shooter, it's perfect with soda or tonic or in a spicy and savory Bloody Mary, because we're still gonna brunch on a desert island, right?"
Mixing your cocktail