This Thursday is Cinco de Mayo, and that’s as good an excuse as any to revisit what I’m guessing is the world’s second most popular tequila cocktail. Indeed, this year I’ve got an additional excuse, which is to give a plug to some work by a DOTW Manor resident and frequent cocktail tester. Seems this enterprising young director was a finalist in a contest being sponsored by one of your classier tequila manufacturers, Avion. Moreover, I found out not long after writing the original draft of this post that he actually won a Grand Prize. Good things can sometimes come to those who imbibe (with moderation) and work (to excess).
As luck would have it, I myself can be seen in one of Joseph Lao’s two spine-tingling faux trailers, this one demonstrating the construction of a high-end La Paloma. Moreover, the last time we dealt with that drink — some four years ago and, it seems, a lifetime away — I offered the more popular, but arguably less refined, take on the beverage. This time, we’re setting aside the Jarritos grapefruit soda, and very definitely the Squirt, and going for a somewhat healthier and arguably more satisfying version of a cocktail that deserves its place alongside many better-known drinks.
2 ounces white tequila (Avion Silver, if you’ve got it, I guess)
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup or about 2 1/2 teaspoons of superfine sugar
1 splash or two of club soda
1 lime web (desirable garnish)
This is one you build in a Tom Collins-type glass, though it might be good idea to pre-chill it as well in this case. Anyhow, just add all the liquid ingredients over ice and stir, and then add the lime wedge, which really does seem to improve the overall flavor.
This week brought us a special dilemma here at Drink of the Week central. Tomorrow, you see, is May 5 and that translates into the Mexican but mostly American holiday of Cinco de Mayo, one of the most beloved yearly excuses to drink that exists in all of los Estados Unidos. Tomorrow is also, however, the annual running of the Kentucky Derby, which is also the only major sporting event I can think of to have it’s own official cocktail. The only truly fair solution, as far as I could figure, was a special pre-May 5, 2012 cocktail double bill where each drink would get it’s own properly timed place/post in the sun.
So, we lead off with a salute to the great nation of Mexico which, precisely 150 years tomorrow, defeated invading French forces — insert Franco-phobe snickers here — at the Battle of Puebla. Of course, most of the revelers of all ethnicities who will be drinking way too many way too blended margaritas tomorrow night in bars from Los Angeles and San Antonio to New York City and Chicago will have no idea about the holiday’s historic underpinnings, or the fact that the Mexicans’ unexpected victory over the forces of Napoleon III might have indirectly paved the way for the Union victory in the U.S.’s Civil War. That’s inevitable, but at least Cinco de Mayo celebrants should a decent alternative to a boozy Slurpee at the ready.
We’ve already covered the correct way to make a margarita, so that’s one outstanding option should you find a bartender classic cocktail knowledgeable enough or open-minded enough to make the drink sans blender. Drinkers who will really want to imbibe they way they do in actual Mexican and Mexican-American climes, however, may want to check out the simple, sweet and also kind of tart highball variation named, for some reason, for the lowly pigeon and the more esteemed dove. It might read like a simple variation on your basic booze and sugary soda combo, but it drinks more like a gin and tonic — a solid hot weather libation and un poco sofisticado.
2 ounces white/silver tequila
Jarritos Grapefruit Soda or Squirt
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
Pinch of salt
Combine tequila, lime juice and salt in a highball/Tom Collins glass. Stir. Add ice and top off with soda. If you want, instead of adding the salt to the drink, you can rim the top of the glass with it margarita-style. Stir once more and sip, saluting the brave folks who struck a blow for indigenous rule and freedom throughout the Americas under General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín all those years ago.
Today’s DOTW is brought to us very largely by Peligroso Tequila, which is celebrating its third anniversary tomorrow with a series of events in California and Hawaii and which we last encountered while making a perfectly fabulous version (up, with fresh OJ) of the Tequila Sunrise back in early March. Once again, I can say from personal experience that making a la Paloma with this toddler of a booze brand is definitely just a little bit better than using the better known mass market tequila I also happen to have on hand at the moment. While my sources within the tequila-drinking community agree it’s a very nice drink indeed when made with Peligroso Silver, some actually prefer that theirs be made with Squirt — which is, indeed, grapefruit based. I, however, think my bird flies slightly higher with Jarritos Toronja.
And now we leave you with who else but Los Lobos and a bit of music appropriate to the spirit of all great drinking holidays such as Cinco de Mayo. Just remember, if you do get loaded on La Palomas, Tequila Sunrises, or a bottle of anything, tomorrow, keep very far away from a steering wheel. There’s nothing festive about a drunken encounter with la policia after a car accident.