Tequila/Mezcal Feed

A Mexican Classic -- The Margarita

MargaritaA proper Margarita is a thing of beauty. Like other classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned or the Daiquiri, it's a wonderfully simple drink. First appearing in Mexico the 1930s, the history of the Margarita is hazy, but many of its origin stories have a common theme: an attractive female entertainer (my personal favorite is the late American actress and dancer Rita Hayworth, who was born Margarita Cansino).

2 ounces blanco tequila
1 ounce triple sec
.75 ounces lime juice (3/4 lime)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the spirit of some Mexican fun, and strain into a chilled glass.  Salt rim optional.

This is simple, right?  The three ingredient combination lends itself to all manner of  variations. If you want a stronger bite, use more tequila. For the triple sec (a general term for orange liqueur), I prefer Cointreau, but you certainly can use a different one.  Whatever you do, use fresh lime juice.  It's less expensive and tastes much better than the pre-made Margarita mix mierda.

Help bring this staple of cocktail menus everywhere back to its roots.  Viva la Margarita!

Tequila, Trump, and Tariffs

Booze isn't immune from politics.  Prohibition is the biggest example in American history.  Now President Trump  is talking about imposing significant tariffs on Mexican imports.  This short insightful article from Caitlin Dewey (click here) discusses the ramifications a tariff could have on the sales of tequila and mezcal (both of which only can come from Mexico), as well as Mexican beer sales, in the United States.

Someone wants to make my Nasty Woman, Paloma, Siesta, Passion, Mexican Sidecar, and El Diablo more expensive?  Only a Bad Hombre would do that.


Malo Malo Man -- The Bad Hombre

Bad HombreDo you know a bad hombre?  During the last Presidential debate in which Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a Nasty Woman he referred to "bad hombres" who crossed the border from Mexico into the United States.  Naturally Saturday Night Live made fun of the comment.  My friend Chuck suggested I make a Bad Hombre cocktail.  There are a couple of versions online, but none of them contain any ingredients from Mexico.  My original creation does.

2 ounces blanco or reposado tequila (me gusta Herradura)
1 ounce Kahlua (hecho en Mexico)
2 dashes molé bitters or Condesa bitters from Bittered Sling

Bad Hombre 2Combine a shaker with ice, stir with the satisfaction of being a bad (in a good way) cocktail maker, and strain into a chilled glass. 

The Bad Hombre is a Brave Bull (the tequila version of a Black Russian) with bitters. Considering the toxic nature of the Presidential campaign's political discourse, the Bad Hombre needs bitters.  The tequila and bitters you use will have an impact on the drink.  If you want a smokier flavor, use reposado tequila and Condesa bitters.  If you want a smoother flavor, use blanco tequila and molé bitters.  Use Angostura bitters as a last resort.

Do you want musical accompaniment for this cocktail?  Possible choices include diverse artists such as George Thorogood ("Bad To The Bone") and Michael Jackson ("Bad").  If you were supposed to shake the Bad Hombre (you shouldn't because it would violate the Hamlet Cocktail Conundrum), you could play "Macho Man" by the Village People (look at the post's subject title again).

Here's a question -- does this post make me El Lobo Loco (the crazy wolf), El Lobo Malo (the bad wolf), or both?

Tasty, Political, and Timely -- The Nasty Woman

Do you know a nasty woman? Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a "nasty woman" during the last Presidential debate. I did not watch any of the debates (deliberately vague full disclosure -- I dislike one candidate and despise the other). However, I did watch the very funny Saturday Night Live sketches of the debates, including the last one that spawned Trump's comment and ultimately this cocktail. Many thanks to Jenni Avins who created this drink and posted it on the Quartz website.


Nasty Woman1.5 ounces blanco or reposado tequila (hola Herradura)
1 ounce cherry juice (like Avins, I use Trader Joe's brand)
Juice from 1/2 lime

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with (I could go 10 ways with this considering the drink name and the political climate), and strain into a chilled glass.  Lime garnish optional.

Pairing cherry juice, which is a key component in the National, with tequila seems odd, but the Nasty Woman makes it work (that sounds bad, doesn't it?).  This cocktail takes the Cointreau or Grand Marnier out of a Margarita and brings in cherry juice.  The result is a little sweet, a little tart, and very powerful.

If you're not in the mood to watch or discuss politics, I suggest watching Cleveland from Family Guy ("that's naaaasty") or listening to some tunes from Janet Jackson (Ms. Jackson if you're nasty).  And when the election ends and/or you're out of tequila  -- have an El Presidente.


Devil In the Details -- The El Diablo

Is it Mexench?  Frexican?  Mexifrenchican?  As the El Diablo combines Mexican tequila with French creme de cassis, these are good questions.  The first mention of the El Diablo occurred in 1946, when it was listed in a Trader Vic's book (Trader Vic's is better known for tiki cocktails).  I adapted this recipe from one I found in Imbibe magazine.

El Diablo2 ounces resposado tequila (I like Herradura)
2/3 ounce creme de cassis (use one made in France)
Juice from 1/2 lime
2-3 ounces ginger beer (non alcoholic)

Combine all of the ingredients except the ginger beer into a shaker, shake as if you're possessed by you know who, strain into a chilled glass, and top with the ginger beer.

The details of the El Diablo are important.  Using reposado tequila, which is aged between two months and one year, gives you a subtly robust counterpoint to the slightly sweet creme de cassis.  You'll find creme de cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur, in other cocktails such as the Bourbon Renaissance.  The lime juice and ginger beer add a little spicy punch. You can drink the El Diablo while reading Dante's Inferno (a powerful book), listening to Sympathy For the Devil by the Rolling Stones or Devil With A Blue Dress On by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels (both are great songs), and/or watching the Duke University Blue Devils (I am one).

If you believe in the afterlife, when the time comes I will have a seat on the express train to hell.  Find me in the bar car.

Con Pasion -- The Passion

Pepe Le Pew and Penelope approve this cocktail.
Pepe Le Pew and Penelope love this drink.

Valentine's Day is upon us.  Even if you're like me and think Valentine's Day is nothing more than a Hallmark holiday (much to my wife's annoyance), it is an excellent opportunity to woo your lover through their liver.  Here's how:

1.5 ounces reposado tequila
.75 ounces Cointreau or other triple sec
1 ounce cranberry juice
Juice from 1/2 a lime

Combine in shaker with ice, shake as if you're throwing your entire body and soul into something (or someone) you love, and strain into a chilled glass.  Lime garnish optional.

Thanks to cocktails.about.com for introducing me to this drink.  I recommend using reposado instead of blanco tequila, but the Passion is fine if you use blanco.

The cocktail essentially is a Cosmopolitan that replaces vodka with tequila, or a Margarita that adds a bit of cranberry juice.  Regardless of how you view the drink, you will like the taste.  And so will your significant other.

El Cielo En El Vaso -- The Mexican Sidecar

A Mexican version of a French cocktail?  Am I fou?  Am I loco?  (Those are the words for crazy in French and Spanish).  Perhaps. Is my command of the Spanish language limited?  Absolutely.  It is true that France and Mexico haven’t always gotten along.  For example, Cinco de Mayo actually celebrates a Mexican victory against a larger French military force.  Contrary to popular belief, or at least Americans who “celebrate” the holiday, Cinco de Mayo is not the Mexican counterpart to the Fourth of July.

If you have too many of these, vaya con Dios
If you have too many of these, vaya con Dios

So what is in this variation of the wonderful  Sidecar?  I’m glad you asked.

2 ounces reposado or anejo tequila (I prefer Herradura)
.75 ounces Cointreau or other triple sec
Juice from 1/4 lemon
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine in shaker with ice, shake like you’re fighting against l’Armee Francaise at the Battle of Puebla, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Lemon garnish optional.

Those of you who are astute observers will notice that this cocktail is not far removed from the traditional margarita.  Remove the orange bitters, replace the lemon with a lime, and there you go.

A quick word about tequila …… always go for tequila that is 100% agave, i.e. no Jose Cuervo.  Like the brandy you use in a Sidecar, one classifies the tequila you use in a Mexican Sidecar based on its age.  Blanco tequila is aged up to two months, reposado tequila is aged between two months and one year, and anejo is aged for at least a year.  Unlike bourbon, which must be aged in new barrels, tequila frequently is aged in used barrels whose previous occupants may have been other spirits such as bourbon or cognac.  Isn’t that a great example of the transnational nature of liquor?

The Grapefruit Triad, Part Three -- The Paloma

Even though Paloma is the Spanish word for pigeon, this cocktail is not for the birds.  If you want a Mexican cocktail and are willing to branch out from the usual libation, go for a Paloma.  The traditional Paloma includes a mix of tequila, grapefruit soda (usually Jarritos, a Mexican brand), and lime juice.  However, I’m not a big fan of carbonated beverages, so I prefer a different version that uses fresh ingredients.   Here is my recipe:

Pigeon tastes great!
Pigeon tastes great!

2 ounces tequila
Juice from 1/4 grapefruit
Juice from 1/4 lime
.33 ounces simple syrup
Pinch of sea salt (optional)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake con fuerza mucho, then strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Grapefruit garnish optional.

As with its close relative the Siesta,as far as I'm concerned it generally doesn't matter which tequila you use in a Paloma (I like Herradura reposado). However, I suspect this cocktail would work better with blanco or reposado tequila instead of anejo.

As the Paloma is the final part of the Grapefruit Triad, you may have three questions about it.  Is it tasty?  Is it tart?  Is it a solid alternative to a margarita?  The answers – si, si, y si.  I'm not saying the Paloma will improve your command of the Spanish language, but it just might.

To read Part One of the Grapefruit Triad (the Siesta) click here and to read Part Two (the Hemingway Daiquiri) click here

The Grapefruit Triad, Part One -- The Siesta

Citrus juices are an important part of many cocktails, and of course you can use the fruits as garnish.  Lemons? Without them the Frisco wouldn’t have a little edginess.  Limes? They turn a fine ginger martini into a perfect Ginger Lime Martini.  Oranges?  They taste great, and the peel works wonders in a Manhattan (forget the Maraschino cherry).

But what about grapefruit?  It has just the right balance of tartness and sweetness, but you don’t see them in cocktails very often.

It’s time to change that.  For the first part of what I deem the Grapefruit Triad, I give you the Siesta.  I first read about it in the Men’s Journal magazine. Apparently a bartender at PDT in New York (excellent cocktails but a surprisingly limited selection) created it.  Here is my barely modified version of the original recipe:

A girly cocktail, or just girly looking?  Keep reading.
A girly cocktail, or just girly looking? Keep reading.

1.5 ounces tequila
Juice from 1/2 lime
Juice from 1/2 grapefruit juice
.25 ounces simple syrup 
.25 ounces Campari

Combine in shaker with ice, shake, then strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Grapefruit garnish optional.

The Siesta is not much different than a Paloma, which is another part of the Grapefruit Triad.  The Siesta has some Campari in it, but the Paloma does not.

I must address the (pink) elephant in the room. Many men who see the picture of the Siesta are thinking: “No way am I drinking a girly looking cocktail like that.”  Gentlemen – be man enough to try a girly looking cocktail, and if you like how it tastes, be man enough to have one.  Keep in mind there is a distinction between a girly looking drink and a girly, i.e. weak, drink.  Like a well made Cosmopolitan with good ingredients, the Siesta is a “girly” cocktail if by “girly” you mean “looks cute, tastes great, and will knock you on your ass if you have more than two.”