Have a Tequila
by Sheila Swerling-Puritt
Forget those cool rainy days we have been having. Bring on summer, even
if you have to conjure it up in a glass. The zesty taste of citrus accelerates
the imagination into action.
Now don't roll your eyes when I suggest Tequila as the base for delicious
summer cocktails. Tequila has a personality that is independent and fun.
Its bright and lively flavour complements food containing avocado, tomatoes,
chicken or pork.
Tequila is Mexico. Not Tijuana, but a sophisticated country and
culture you should take the time to explore.
Price isn't always a good way to judge tequila. Fancy packaging is now
common with premium tequilas. The elegant bottles, while adding to the
visual appeal, don't necessarily add to the basic quality of the product.
Taste is the deciding factor. Each style of tequila has its own individual
character. The young unaged Blanco tequilas have a more distinctive agave
flavour. This flavour shines through in mixed drinks. My choice for drinking
the product neat with a chaser is the Reposado. That tiny bit of barrel
ageing takes the edge off the tequila for me, resulting in a mellower
taste. Many Añejos impart too much oak and can overpower the natural
agave flavour in a cocktail. I prefer the really good ones, which have
the smooth and elegant characteristics of a fine cognac, served after
dinner in a snifter. Buying Tequila which is 100% blue agave may be a
bit more expensive, but trust me, it's worth it!
If you're not sure what brand to buy, experiment at your local bar. Make
sure they don't serve you a Mixto, which is made with 51% agave. There
is a definite difference in the taste.
Presentation of the cocktail is the first seduction. Inexpensive hand-blown
Mexican glassware helps set the mood. Pony glasses or sherry glasses could
stand in for the Mexican shot glass (caballitos) as an elegant way to
sip tequila. Garnishes seem to make the cocktail taste even better. Pieces
of red bell peppers cut into abstract shapes, fresh flower blossoms, sprigs
of fresh herbs such as lemon verbena or mint. If you want to rim your
margarita glass with salt, use kosher style or coarsely ground sea salt
and fresh lime. I personally think that the salt and lime used this way
masks the flavour of premium tequilas.
My friends in Guadalajara taught me to always keep my tequila bottle
in the freezer ready for action during the cocktail hour. Here's a simple
change from the ritual uno, dos, tres drinking of tequila.
Tequila maven Lucinda Hutson's traditional Margarita
- 1½ ounces Blanco (silver) Tequila
- ½ ounces Cointreau
- 1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed.*
*Taste before serving because the acidity of limes varies greatly. It's
easy to add more lime or to sweeten it with more Cointreau.
- Combine with ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Shake well.
- Strain into a Margarita glass.
Preparing frozen Margaritas in the blender with ice cubes, while fun
to drink, I believe dilutes the drink and robs it of its character. But
if that's what you are looking for, then let me suggest Jose Cuervo's
Margarita Mix, which can be purchased in most liquor outlets. I have tried
dozens of Margarita mixes on the market and I still think this one comes
as close as you can get to the real taste. A recipe for the Margarita
is printed on the back label.
The recipe for this delicious Sangrita chaser, which follows a shot of
tequila, comes from the well known upscale Mexican Adobo Grill located
in Chicago, Illinois.
- 2 medium cucumbers,* each about 1½ inches in diameter (*regular,
- ½ dried ancho chile, stemmed and seeded
- ½ cup fresh orange juice
- ½ cup tomato juice
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. minced onion
- ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Cut two 3½-inch lengths from each of the cucumbers to use as
cups. Cut a tiny piece from each end so it will sit straight. Peel the
pieces leaving a 1½-inch band of peel at one end of each. Using
a melon baller, scoop out the seeds, stopping just before reaching the
bottom. Refrigerate the cups for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the ancho chile over moderate
heat until it begins to blister, about 1½ minutes per side. Transfer
the ancho to a work surface to cool.
- In a blender, combine the orange, tomato and lime juices with the
onion and Worcestershire sauce. Crumble in the toasted ancho and purée.
- Strain through a coarse sieve. Season the sangrita with salt and pepper
and chill for at least 20 minutes. (The sangrita can be refrigerated
For more information, you can contact Sheila at firstname.lastname@example.org.