Drink of the Week pre-5/5 Special, Part 1: La Paloma

La Paloma 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.

La Paloma

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 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.

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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.

  

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Check out the new Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro tequila

Don Julio has introduced a new addition to its portfolio of ultra-premium tequilas in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the year Don Julio González began perfecting the art of tequila making – the world’s first Añejo Claro tequila, Tequila Don Julio 70. The good folks at Don Julio were good enough to send us a sample so we could enjoy their new creation. What we found was a unique flavor that tequila fans will love.

The Añejo Claro tequila combines traditional Añejo flavors that result from 18 months of barrel aging with the fresh agave flavor and silver color expected from an unaged Blanco tequila. The result is tequila with a smooth and complex flavor of an Añejo that is specially filtered to bring back the crisp agave flavor typically found in a Blanco. Once the tequila has reached maturity, it is carefully filtered through a custom process that restores the citrus and fruity agave flavor notes that are muted during the aging process to a more concentrated strength, resulting in a stronger flavor of the tequila’s raw materials. The filtration process makes the tequila return to a clear silver color while maintaining the flavor of an Añejo.

Check it out as the new Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro tequila also makes a great gift this holiday season.

  

Drink of the Week: The Margarita

the margaritaYou may wonder why I waited so long to take on this most popular of cocktails. I may wonder why. No, it’s not cocktail snobbery, although it’s true that the margarita hasn’t always been admitted to the most exclusive cocktail clubs.

You see, a long time ago, I was a pretty ordinary occasional social drinker who never thought much about cocktails, though I’d sip the occasional vodka martini. (I love olives and figured Ian Fleming knew more about booze than I did). I certainly never thought much one way or the other about margaritas, which I associated with the blended, ultra-sweet, mix laden concoctions that are good for benders at Acapulcos.

Then, one night in Las Vegas, I and a friend were lured into the oddly deserted, and now long gone, Las Vegas branch of the famed Santa Fe eatery, Anasazi, with the promise of free drink with our dinner. I chose a prickly pear margarita on the rocks, because I wondered what prickly pear juice tasted like.

One day, I’ll have to see about recreating that eye-opening concoction, which first taught me that a cocktail could be a lot more than just booze and that blended margaritas were for the birds. The classic margarita made simply, however, is a thing of beauty it itself. Step away from the blender, abandon the mix, and make yourself an amazing drink.

The Margarita

2 ounces tequila (clear/silver)
1 ounce triple sec
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
Salt (extremely necessary garnish to rim the glass)

Salt the rim by wetting the rim of your cocktail glass either with water or a bit of lime juice and placing the rim onto a plate covered in salt. Many recipes specify coarse or kosher salt; go for it if it’s handy and you want to go the classic route, but ordinary table salt works about as well. Place glass in the freezer for a minute or two at least (longer is better) to chill, if you haven’t already. Combine tequila, triple sec and lime juice in shaker with lots of ice. Shake like your life depends on it. Strain and pour into cocktail glass. As implied above, the margarita may also be made very respectably on the rocks and built in an old fashioned glass.

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Up to now, I haven’t had much luck with the brand of triple sec I’ve been using, but lime juice and tequila appears to be the perfect antidote to what ails my particular brand of this very sweet liqueur. I understand the drink will be even better with Cointreau (i.e., expensive triple sec) but it’s hard to imagine it getting that much better because this drink is amazing, especially considering how inexpensive its basic ingredients are, including the Sauza tequila I used.

If you really want to go the extra mile, however, try using the juice of several key limes, which are more sour and do an even better job of counteracting the ultra-sweet triple sec than standard fresh lime juice. Still, those key limes are tiny little buggers and a hassle to squeeze by hand.

Finally, since it seems mandatory to mention it, I should add that legend tell us that the margarita was developed somewhere in Baja California — either Ensenada or closer to Tijuana — and named after a young German or American woman whose name was either Margaret or Marjorie. Nobody seems to believe these stories very much, and the margarita is similar to so many other drinks that no such story is really necessary. I will say that whoever thought of salting the rim was pretty clever.

  

Drink of the Week – Hornitos Pop Rocket

Halloween is always a big party, so we’re going with some simple but fun for this week’s drink – The Hornitos Pop Rocket. The recipe for this shot is very simple. Start with Hornitos Premium Tequila (Plata), then apply Agave nectar to the rim of the shot glass, and then use Pop Rocks to coat the top of the shot glass. The result is delicious.

There’s nothing like premium tequila to get a party going, and this shot will get everyone’s attention, particularly all the ladies in their sexy Halloween costumes! Hornitos tequila is amazing and it will become one of your favorites.

Have a great weekend . . .

  

Cocktails for the Historic “Home and Home” Tour

Of all the concerts this summer, none could be hotter than Jay-Z and Eminem pairing up for the “Home and Home Tour” in the artists’ respective hometowns. To celebrate two of the greatest living rappers performing side by side, 1800 Tequila has put together two cocktails to sip in honor of this historic hip-hop milestone.

For Eminem, it’s the Motor City Margarita:

2 oz 1800® Silver Tequila
1 oz triple sec
½ oz lemon lime soda

Combine with ice and stir, garnish with lemon wheels and a sprig of mint.

And for Jay-Z, 1800 gives us the Manhattan State of Mind:

2 oz 1800® Silver Tequila
1 oz sweet vermouth
1 dash lime juice
1 slice orange

Shake tequila, vermouth, and lime juice with ice and strain into an old-fashioned glass over ice cubes. Add the slice of orange and serve.

  

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