May 18, 2018
When a bottle shows up at your door wearing a sort-of a leather sheath, stitched up the back like a very cool (and very tough) boot, and having a grinning bronzed skull bottle topper, first, you very safely, very slowly, and maybe a little clandestinely, peek outside the door to ensure it wasn’t delivered by someone a bit more menacing then the local postal person. If it wasn’t, then (if you’re me), you take a sip.
If (again, if you’re me) it was a bottle of Padre Azul Reposado tequila, you don’t get the burn or serious kick you might expect from said presentation (though really, it’s a shout out to Mexican Day of the Dead culture), but instead a smooth, layered, sipping tequila, made by hand from 100 percent select blue agave, and aged for eight months in French oak casks. The flavor unfolds beautifully on the tongue, too, with a swirl of vanilla, a little nuttiness, a light herbal-ness, and a hint of smoke. Really, it’s one to have neat or over ice, at least to begin with.
If (a third time) you’re me, however, you can’t resist trying even a tequila or other spirt this fine in a cocktail. At first, because of the leather-jacketing-and-skull-grinning, I thought I’d go the more hard core route, and bring in some serious heat. But then, thanks to that vanilla and other notes, my brain exploded in another direction entirely – chocolate. I actually think tequilas of the right kind make a nice match with chocolate, and here, it’s a lush pairing. A little Cointreau made another swell attendee. I couldn’t completely let go of the spice idea, but wanted it clean and crisp and not annoying, and in that situation only Scrappy’s Firewater habanero tincture will do. One more magical ingredient – Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters, which somehow brings all of the other ones together – and we have a dessert drink fit for a king, no matter what they’re wearing.
2 ounces Padre Azul Reposado tequila
1/2 ounce crème de cacao
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 dash Scrappy’s Firewater tincture
1 dash Bittermens Xocolati mole bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy, sweets.
March 3, 2017
You know this, I know this, everybody knows this – I believe good drinks should have good names, and when creating drinks you need to create names too. Okay, that’s out of the way. But here, really, the change is so minor! The Cactus Berry is a favorite spring-and-early-summer drink of mine, from Wine Cocktails, and as I was dreaming of spring recently, I decided it would be a perfect fit for today. But, it usually uses Merlot (along with tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice), and I didn’t have such. But I did have a bottle of Donini Settegrappoli, which is an Italian red, rich, lush, full of body, perhaps I think the best red wine in the world. If I can go a little overboard (admittedly, Donini is my favorite winery in the world, too). So, I thought it might be perfect. And guess what? I was right! You can be right, too, if you try this drink.
The Italian Cactus Berry (mostly from Wine Cocktails)
1-1/2 ounces Donini Settegrappoli Italian red wine (or another amazing wine)
1-1/2 ounces tequila (blanc, usually)
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Lime wedge, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the wine, tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. Shake well.
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass through a fine strainer. Garnish with the lime wedge and serve.
July 1, 2016
This refreshing relative of the Diablo cocktail is sure to become a summertime favorite, whether you’re wearing your 10-gallon hat and chaps (and maybe little else – it is summer after all, and very sweltering) or normal attire. It uses one of the new Stolen Fruit cocktail mixers, which I surely hope are available in your town (if not, complain to the mayor). Not a “cocktail mixer” in the yucky, pre-made un-natural way, but instead, grape-based, and more just a mixer in really-good-thing-you-add-to-booze way. What happens is, they use the fresh-pressed juice from green grapes (which is called verjus, if you’re feeling fancy), combined with other natural flavors, to make mystical (why not?) liquids, which can be added in with spirits and liqueurs and such to make cocktails and highballs and more, oh my, or just added to soda water or other juices to make fine non-boozy beverages.
So, I recently received a few to try out (I know – I’m lucky!), and made this very drink with the Hibiscus Grenache Stolen Fruit mixer, which is not only perhaps the most poetic (the word “hibiscus” is really poetic, me thinks), but which also boasts a berry, zingy, and tiny bit spicy flavor that to me screamed out tequila! Tequila! Tequila! As that’s another summer favorite around these parts, the combo felt right. And you know what? It was! Try the below, and make your summer not only more bubbly, but just plain better.
2 ounces Reposado tequila (I went with Corralejo Reposado, and it was great)
1-1/2 ounces Stolen Fruit Hibiscus Grenache
4 ounces ginger beer (I used Q ginger beer, and it spiced right)
Lime wedge, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tequila and the stolen fruit. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball glass (preferably one shaped like a boot) three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step 1 into the glass.
3. Top with the ginger beer. Stir well. Garnish with that lime.
June 17, 2016
This tequila champion takes its name from a quote from General Ignacio Zaragoza, who commanded the forces at the battle of Puebla (where he, in a massive upset, won the day, and that winning is what is celebrated on Cinco de Mayo, but just because that’s a fact, it doesn’t mean that you should only have this drink then. No, no, no! This drink is good anytime. Know that, and you can skip the whole upset thing, and just be happy). It uses the swell Corralejo Tequila Reposado as its base, a tequila crafted out of 100% blue agave, and then said tequila is aged in American oak for at least three months. The end result is a smooth agave-spice-caramel flavor that mingles dreamily with sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and a hint of citrus in this very drink.
The National Arms
1-1/2 ounces Corralejo Tequila Reposado
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tequila, vermouth, juice, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.
June 2, 2015
I recently received the Uncommon Goods’ Molecular Mixology Cocktail Kit in the mail – without even ordering it! I know, I’m lucky (and trying not to be smarmy about, too). It’s an interesting combo kit in a way, with three boxes covering fun ways to science-up three classic drinks, the Margarita, Mojito, and Cosmopolitan.
Each box contains recipes for three different molecular mixology takes on the drinks, including making “caviar” bubbles, tasty foam, and what I’d call liquid “spheres,” as well as the food additives and some of the tools needed to make the drinks. It’s like a little chemistry kit that just needs booze (and sometimes some mixers and stuff) to take your drinking into another realm, a sorta futuristic feeling place that’s still awfully jolly (oh, I suggest when you get your molecular mixology on, you do it with friends. It’s even more jolly. Of course this is pretty much true with all drinking)!
Oh, wait, before I get in to my experimenting with the kit, I suppose a little about UncommonGoods might be, well, good. Heck, instead of me trying to talk it out, let me tell you what they say:
UncommonGoods is a retailer that endeavors to feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. We make it our mission to support and provide a platform for artists and designers; in fact, half of what we sell is made by hand. Most of the products we carry are created right here in the USA, and about one-third of our entire collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials.
And now you know! And now we can get to the drinks. I took on (with the help of wife Nat) the Margarita sphereification first (and, I’ll admit, it’s the only one so far, though I look forward to more), cause in some past molecular drinking, I always love the sphere-ing. Really!
The kits come with nice little recipes books. I’m not gonna walk through every step, cause that’d get long. But will give the highlights. You mix a little calcium lactate with some water, orange liqueur, and mango, freeze it into spheres (in the handy sphere freezing tray), mix some water and sodium alginate, drop the frozen spheres in it, then rinse them with water, and top them with tequila, coconut milk, and lime. Boom!
The instructions were by-and-large pretty good (it would have been nice to have a general idea how long the spheres will take to freeze, as the instructions just flow as if that doesn’t take time – but that’s pretty easy to figure out). I wasn’t a huge fan of the tequila-and-coconut milk combo as it was, honestly. But I loved making more of an actual “deconstructed” Margarita (as they call it in the book), just with tequila, lime, and the orange liqueur (I used Gran Gala) mango spheres:
I love, love, love slurping the tequila and lime and sphere, and then breaking the spheres open in my mouth (hah, that sounds bad – but tastes so, so good). The whole process creates this little skin around the orange liqueur/mango liquid combo, and when you bite down, all that flavor is a blast. A blast! Very swell stuff.
I can’t wait to try more, both the other recipes for the Marg and the other two cocktails, but also playing around with my own recipes using some of the science-y stuff that came along. Neato!
February 20, 2015
This border-busting concoction combines a couple of ingredients that are from fairly different points on the compass: tequila (that’s the southern one), and Washington State’s own Skip Rock Distillery’s Spiced Apple liqueur. The former I’m guessing you know about, but the latter uses local Jonagold apples, and a little bit of sweet and spice, in a dandy manner – meaning, it’s a liqueur that lets the flavor shine through, one that makes a great pairing with tequila and other things. However, when making this cocktail with those two ingredients, I realized that the whole Mason/Dixon quandary was keeping it from fully delivering the awesome, and that I needed one or two last mediators to really make things hum. After some hemming and hawing (and by that I mean, testing and testing), two unexpected other ingredients fell into place: Lillet and Scrappy’s orange bitters. The end result is . . . well, try it and see (okay, a hint: it’s darn tasty).
Up North, Down South
2 ounces tequila blanco
3/4 Skip Rock Spiced Apple liqueur
1/4 ounce Lillet
Dash Scrappy’s orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
November 16, 2012
Tequila is sometimes given the seasonal shaft. Folks can tend to think of it (except those true tequila fanatics I suppose) only in the hotter months, and only in chilly Margaritas and the occasional other cold number. This means from, oh, October through late February in many areas tequila just doesn’t come to mind for cocktail and drink lovers. I myself may have fallen into this tequila trap a time or two. However, the other night I found myself both craving tequila and freezing (freezing in Seattle means the temperature is down to the mid-30s. Yeah, we’re wimps). “So,” I thought to myself, “what can I do to remedy the situation?” And what I did was come up with the below drink, which I’m calling the Saguaro Steamer:
The funny (both sad funny and just funny) part of it all is that tequila goes smashingly in a hot drink. Thinking about it, it just makes wonderful sense. Tequila tends to be smoky and the flavors mingle well with the steam and hot water. Amazingly well, really. But a little balance and tang and sweet were needed, and that’s where the other ingredients came into play. To add even more flavor and take the edges off, I used the new-ish Mariposa agave nectar liqueur, which mingles agave nectar and 100-percent agave tequila and premium vodka, and which has a floral smoky loveliness going on. Then I added some orange juice (another hot drink casualty that’s surprisingly good here) and topped it all off with the top hot drink topping, nutmeg. I strongly suggest this combo if you want to update your hot drink repertoire and give tequila its due year round.
The Saguaro Steamer
2 ounces Reposado tequila (I used Casa Noble and it was awesome. As it always is)
3/4 ounces Mariposa agave nectar liqueur
3/4 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
3 ounces pretty hot water (not boiling, but close)
Freshly grated nutmeg
1. Add the tequila, Mariposa, and orange juice to a double-walled Bodum glass or other heat-okay receptacle. Stir.
2. Carefully add the hot water to the mix. Stir again, carefully but thoroughly.
3. Grate a little nutmeg on the top. Make that “ahhh” sound you make when it’s cold out and you’ve just had something deliciously warm.
October 12, 2012
As anyone knows, a week on this blog equals, usually, three posts (sue me if that seems wrong—my lawyers are at the bar). Which means, sadly, Shot Week is already coming to an end. Be sure you read Shot Week Day 1 and Shot Week Day 2 to get the full story. But the basics are thus: cocktail genius and genuinely nice fella Andrew Bohrer has a delicious new book out, called The Best Shots You’ve Never Tried. It’s bringing the idea of the shot, a shorter drink, to a higher plateau. Instead of shots thrown down the throat rapidly so-as to avoid tasting them, the shots in his book are ones to savor and share. So, quit pussyfooting around—buy the book. If Shot Week so far wasn’t enough to sway you, check out the below recipe for the diabolical Diablita, which you should consume rapidly to ensure the devil doesn’t enter your mouth.
1 ounce reposado tequila
.25 ounce crème de cassis
.25 ounce lime juice
2 ounces ginger beer
1. Pour ingredients into a shot glass and slam.