Cinco de Mayo is on Tuesday and it’s not all about Corona, people. Nor is it all about the margarita. While that is certainly a worthy cocktail to knock back whilst celebrating this most Americanized of Mexican holidays, there’s more you can mix tequila with than Cointreau and lime juice. You can also drink a Diabolito, which I’ll get to…
There’s also been a veritable explosion of new tequila brands — some with really cool-looking labels — in the past few years. Which is how I ended up sampling a bottle of Espolon Reposado, a tequila whose agave pinas are slow-cooked before the fermented and distilled product is aged in new American oak barrels to become a reposado.
I chose to try the tequila in a Diabolito cocktail because “diabolito” means little devil in Spanish, and I thought the name apropos for the Day of the Dead figures so prominent on the awesome label (as with wine, I know you’re not supposed to go for the cute labels, but…).
This cocktail mixes tequila with lime juice, Creme de Cassis and ginger ale, and while it had initial promise, I found the ginger ale overpowered the drink and left it too sweet besides. If the recipe making were up to me, I’d axe the ginger ale in favour of two ounces of a club soda topper, sweeten it with a bar spoon of agave syrup, build it in a smaller glass, and garnish it with blackberries (pictured). Then, I’d enjoy a couple “little devils” on Cinco de Mayo.
Best tequila label ever. And the cocktail’s not bad, either.
- 2 oz Espolon Reposado
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1/2 oz Creme de Cassis
- 4 oz ginger ale
Method: Build all ingredients in a highball glass. Stir. Garnish with a lime twist.
— Recipe courtesy Espolon
Since it’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada I figured it would be fun to incorporate a holiday ingredient such as cranberries into a cocktail. I googled “cranberry sauce in cocktails” and stumbled upon this gem from Mint/820, a bar in cocktail-crazed Portland, Ore.: the Cranberry Jalapeño Margarita. It promised to be a tarter, prettier, more festive version of one of my favourite cocktails.
Hold the gravy and save room for the cranberry margarita “sauce.”
Since I didn’t have a fresh jalapeño on hand I improvised with some jalapeño pepper jelly. And without lemons — like the recipe called for — I used fresh mandarin orange juice, as I thought it would pair nicely with the cranberry sauce. The ratios were also a bit wonky, calling for 2-1/2 oz of tequila but only 1/4 oz of Cointreau, for example, so I adjusted them according to my palate. I also added an egg white as I am currently loving how they smooth out and bind sour cocktails.
The result is a delicious twist on a margarita that’s tart, just spicy enough, and sweet from orange juice and cranberry sauce rather than simple syrup (true, there’s a touch of agave syrup as well). I also love the colour — it’s perfect for a fall day, turkey or no.
That’s a fresh-cranberry-atop-an-orange-slice garnish. Very festive!
Cranberry Jalapeño Margarita
- 2 oz Patron Reposado
- 3/4 oz Cointreau
- 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz fresh mandarin orange juice
- 1 barspoon agave syrup
- 1/2 oz cranberry sauce
- 1/2 oz jalapeño pepper jelly
- 1/2 oz egg white
Method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously to dissolve the cranberry sauce and jelly, then strain into a margarita glass filled with crushed ice (there will be bits of cranberry and pepper seeds from the jelly that get through, but it adds a nice texture). Garnish with a single cranberry atop an orange slice.
It’s official — we’re going to Mexico for spring break, baby! We booked a week at the all-inclusive Sunscape Dorado in Ixtapa! Woot! The fares came down a bit and we pounced. So to celebrate, a Toreador cocktail. Now, I had never heard of this drink until I was paging through Simon Difford’s Cocktails Made Easy (yet again) and noticed I had all three ingredients on hand: tequila, apricot brandy and lime juice.
It’s like a margarita — and is said to even pre-date Mexico’s iconic cocktail — but one with a sweeter, fruitier flavour thanks to the Bols apricot liqueur. Though I liked it, I will be ordering traditional margaritas while south of the U.S. border. Ole!
Its name is Spanish for "margarita with apricot brandy." Not really, but I thought that sounded about right.
- 2 oz tequila
- 1 oz Bols apricot brandy liqueur
- 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
- Lime wedge garnish
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
— Recipe courtesy Cocktails Made Easy