Drink of the Week: Cocktail No. 366

Cocktail No. 36.No, I can’t tell you anything about Cocktail No. 365 or, for that matter, Cocktail No. 367. I do know that the people behind the marketing of Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila have been pushing this enigmatically named concoction as a modern day update of last week’s beverage, Harry Craddock’s Leap Year Cocktail. While both cocktails do indeed have both bitter and sweet flavors, the Hornitos people have come up with something that is far more boldly bitter in a way that’s also kind of sweetly refreshing, and which features one of my very favorite ingredients, good ol’ Campari. That’s one way to get my attention. In any event, I’d say this drink is probably closer to a Boulevardier than the Leap Year, but that’s hardly a bad thing.

Cocktail No. 366

1 1/2 ounces Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
1 ounce Campari
1/4 ounce sweet vermouth
2 ounces soda water
1 dash orange bitters
1 orange peel (garnish)

Gather ye your liquid ingredients in a mixing glass or, if you’re a piker who doesn’t own one like me, you can use a cocktail shaker, though you won’t be doing any shaking on account of the soda water. Instead, stir the concoction vigorously and, depending on your mood, you can either strain the mixture over fresh ice into a Tom Collins glass or pour it out carefully, ice and all. Add the orange peel garnish, and toast the world that teaches us to take the bitter with the sweet and to actually enjoy it.

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Drink of the Week: The Hornitos Harvest

the Hornitos Harvest.It’s still several days away but, before you know it, Thanksgiving will be here and you’ll want something to drink. You could do worse than the Hornitos Harvest. It’s fortifying enough that it won’t get you comatose before the turkey and mashed potatoes do their number on you, but also strong enough that you should be able to properly adjust your attitude and be a little more forgiving of your family’s refusal to be anything other than your family. It also tastes good.

The star of our little show is Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila, which has magically found it’s way to my mailbox gratis and been featured here previously. With a richly bitter, woody edge that might please bourbon and Scotch drinkers, it’s definitely one of the more complex tequilas you’re going to find for around $30.00 for a fifth. Still, the question posed by the Hornitos Harvest is when we can cheat just a little bit on the cocktail truism that fresh juices are an absolute must. We’ll get a bit more into that after the recipe.

The Hornitos Harvest

2 ounces Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
1 ounce pomegranate juice
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup or 2 1/2 teaspoons superfine sugar
1 lime slice (garnish)

Combine all of the ingredients, save for the lime slice, in a cocktail shaker. Shake for a good ten seconds or so, and strain into a rocks/old fashioned glass with fresh ice in it, and maybe also a nice lime slice. Give thanks that you’re lucky enough to enjoy tasty pinkish-reddish drinks!

The big question here is whether to try and juice your own pomegranates or go with the prepackaged stuff. I used bottled juice my first time out and, for whatever reason was slightly put off by my first try at the Hornitos Harvest. Somewhat harsher, more bitter flavors seemed to predominate in an otherwise very promising drink.

Blaming the non-fresh juice I was using, despite the fact that it really doesn’t taste at all bad on its own, I decided to give juicing a pomegranate a try. Mind you, one of my guiding principles in these posts is that no recipe should require readers to spend more than a few minutes to make a drink.”(Almost) no home made syrup, no DIY bitters, infusions, or liqueurs, and definitely no blenders!” is pretty much my watchword.

Fortunately, I found all it took was just a little bit of elbow grease and a tolerance for mess to juice a pomegranate using a manual citrus juicer. My next attempt at the Hornitos Harvest turned out to be a lovely balance between sweet, tart, and bitter/woody flavors that only got better on each subsequent try. Also, the color with fresh juice was brighter and a bit more colorful in the glass.

Then, I decided to try the unthinkable and killed my Black Barrel bottle for one more try with the exact same bottled juice I’d used on my first attempt. Turns out, this time I liked the results almost as much as the fresh pomegranate juice version. Go figure.


Drink of the Week: The Black Ginger

The Black Ginger.In the world of higher end hard liquor, it seems as if whiskey is the big man on campus these days. I say that because the relative new kids in the world of super premium booze — tequila and rum — often try to emulate whiskey just a little. I am not opposed. While it might be less than advisable for Richie Cunningham to go around in a leather jacket like the Fonz, many of these whiskeyish expressions are actually pretty interesting cross pollinations, retaining enough of their own essential character to be interesting.

So it is with Hornitos Black Barrel, this week’s intriguing free-booze-I-got-in-the-mail. It’s been aged in wooden barrels to give it a more woody and very slightly sweet flavor that will likely remind you of a decent rye or bourbon, while also making you think even more of a pretty good tequila. It works nicely in an Old Fashioned, which is always my test for just about any booze, but especially one that has whiskey aspirations.

As for this week’s recipe offered by the Hornitos people, it’s not the flat-out cocktail home run they offered for my July 4th post a few weeks back to promote their perfectly-good plata, but it’ll do if you like sweet, refreshing drinks with a small dash of complexity.

The Black Ginger

1 1/2 ounces Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
ginger beer (to top off)
1/2 ounce simple syrup or roughly or 2 1/2 teaspoons superfine sugar
1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Get a collins or highball glass and place your sprig of rosemary in it. Muddle it gently — think of it as a love tap — to get a bit more of the flavor into your glass. Next, combine all the remaining ingredients, except for the ginger beer, in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into your glass, to which you have added fresh ice. Top off with the ginger beer of your choice.


As I mentioned above, this drink is definitely not one for sweet phobics, but it’s not at all bad if you get one of the tangier ginger beers and use enough of it. Due to some confusion, I first tried this in a smaller rocks/old fashioned glass, and it wasn’t as good. Lesson learned.

The Black Ginger reminds me somewhat of a better than average tiki drink, minus a little exoticism, with the rosemary being a nicely subtle alternative to the mint you find more often in cocktails. (If mint’s totally your thing, by the way, the Hornitos folks are also promulgating their own version of a Mint Julep…which could be the perfect thing to have during one of the many years when Derby Day and Cinco de Mayo coincide.)

I tried the Black Ginger with a couple of different brands of ginger beer, which both worked fine. However, my first night out, I used some Verner’s ginger ale — which I thought might be fine because it’s the most-gingery of the well known commercial ginger ales. It wasn’t. I know that ginger beer, which is always non-alcoholic, is comparable in price to actual beer, but you need it for this drink. Proper cocktailing is not the cheapest hobby.