The Santa Ana Daisy at Playground, Our Drink of the Week!
Dave Lieberman

The Santa Ana Daisy at Playground, Our Drink of the Week!

Here's some cocktail history for you: pretty much every cocktail you've ever had can trace its lineage back to the Old Fashioned: spirit, sugar, water, bitters. Switch the bitters for citrus juice and you have a sour; switch the sugar for grenadine (or raspberry syrup) and add orange liqueur and you have what's called a daisy, the Spanish word for which is margarita.

The reason for that little history lesson is that you have to understand why the Santa Ana Daisy, on Playground's new cocktail menu, is appropriate for a place where you still hear the calls of "Compramos oro, plata" and "Vuelos baratos, Guadalajara, Mazatlán, D.F." As with everything else at the restaurant, all the cocktails are pushing it just a bit: the Santa Ana Daisy is one historic step back from a margarita, with grenadine, lemon juice, tequila, simple syrup, and Cointreau.

It's poured into a glass that's been rinsed with mezcal. No garnish, no ice, no herbs lovingly spanked on the bartender's hand, no frippery; there's no scent you're going to catch from a garnish that's as complementary as the mezcal, and ice would just mute the flavor. You don't taste the mezcal, though; it's just there as a scent, lending its smokiness to every sip of the drink without overpowering it, as though someone made a cocktail in a mezcal barrel. And while it's definitely a sweeter drink than, say, its Old Fashioned ancestor, it's nicely balanced and not cloying. It's a reinvented Mexican-American cocktail that fits in beautifully with its community--just call it "SanTana" like the natives, you know?

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