On Modesto's L-shaped bar sits an origami frog and lily pad crafted out of two bucks -- the pad a circular fan-folded bill, the frog a convincing angular rendering, especially the dollar-frog's ass, which, if you flip it, propels Mr. Frog up and onto the lily pad. Oh, the simple joys of this wonderful life, one in which a stop at tapas joint Modesto for a Joan Miró curlicues into a time-travel dream set in a green woodland pond.
The Joan Miró: a martini named in honor of the Catalan/Spanish semisurrealist painter whose work in 1930s and '40s Paris you've no doubt seen at some museum somewhere or, if you're smart, have examined closely and grown to love.
Modesto's representation of Joan Miró as a martini is one of ten such Modesto concoctions honoring famous Spaniards. You've got the Pablo Picasso, the Julio Iglesias (but, alas, no Enrique), the Don Quixote, the Salvador Dali and others; the list pretty much covers every single famous Spanish person -- there aren't that many, really -- and features such fanciness as Cointreau, Spanish brandy and crème de cacao.
Like life, the drink is green, but not too much so. It's the color of Key lime pie, and tastes like it as well, though it's definitely not as rich. The Miró's chief ingredient, Licor 43 (Cuarenta y Tres) is a Spanish liqueur. It glows yellow -- one of its chief ingredients is citrus juice -- and is created from 43 different herbs and spices, hence the "43." Add some Stoli Vanilla, some lime juice and a splash of half-and-half, and give the glass an almond rim. Bingo: Joan Miró.
In lesser hands, the vanilla whammy -- present in 43 and, obviously, Stoli Vanilla -- could overwhelm the palate, but Roxanna Ratossa tempers the drink with enough lime juice to pucker the thing, and the splash of half-and-half, dangerous in combination with a citrus, succeeds in giving the Joan Miró some heft -- but not too much.
How all these ingredients combine to suggest Joan Miró the painter is unclear, but we'll leave that examination, along with the one about Goya's association with Tanqueray, to the scholars and dissertation writers.
Maybe they'll be able to explain the metaphor behind the use of sweet almonds around the rim of the glass. Spanish Marcona almonds are used, and they're fresh. Modesto deep-fries them, then Ratossa pulverizes them -- "to make them all crunched-up like that," she says. It's a little nutty treat, and you should celebrate it as such. Have fun with it. Lick a space to put your lips, take a few sips, then lick some more when the spirit moves you. They're your marconas, it's your Joan Miró, the thing tastes fantastic and you're feeling like a fluffy November cloud. Let's have one more.