Wednesday, 5 May 2010

For Cinco de Mayo: Tequila .. and Absinthe!

May 5th was not always connected with Tequila. It was originally a voluntary holiday that commemorated the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

148 years later, it has become a big Tequila day, especially in the USA. I'm fortunate enough to have done some work on Tequilas earlier in my career, and have worked a little on Don Julio (UK and South Asia), Jose Cuervo and 1800 (S.E. Asia and Korea), and Cabo Wabo (UK, Russia, and Australia). Interesting brands indeed. Like absinthe, Tequila has had a "bad boy" image, so it's fascinating to see how the development of ultra-premium tequilas has helped it to become a much more sophisticated drink over the last 10 years.

I am especially delighted, therefore, that while working on absinthe, mixologists have proposed cocktails combining tequila and absinthe. Here are two of them:

The Green Devil (created by Ben Foote, The Bitter Bar)

1.5 oz. Chamucos Reposado Tequila
0.75 oz. Luxardo Limoncello Liqueur
0.25 oz. La Clandestine Absinthe
3-4 leaves of Fresh Thai Basil

*Muddle basil in a mixing glass first, then add all other ingredients with ice... shake for 5-10 seconds, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 
**Garnish with a lemon wheel and a sprig of thai basil.

This was created at the Bitter Bar, Boulder which was then under the supervision of James Lee, named then one of the top 10 mixologists in the country by Playboy Magazine. (Update 2014: James has recently returned as owner of the Bitter Bar).

James and I had corresponded on Twitter, and a few weeks later he sent me details of this cocktail and some additional comments. Over to you, James: 

"The Green Devil was our number one selling cocktail when the Bitter Bar opened last year around this time... We tried many different Limoncellos, but decided the Luxardo came through with better balance and not over the top with citrus flavor profile in the cocktail. Also, and more importantly, we ended up switching to La Clandestine from a verte absinthe due to its softer and smoother profile in the cocktail (especially on the nose and start of the drink..). We just did a "rinse" of verte absinthe in the original version of this cocktail due to strong/heavy profile of absinthe/anise flavor, but now we have La Clandestine/blanche in the cocktail, we use 0.25 oz. in the recipe to enhance and made everyone happy with our cocktail!"


Clandestine Luna (created by George Delgado of Promixology)

1 oz. La Clandestine Absinthe
1 oz. 100% Cabo Wabo Blanco Tequila
1 oz. Combier
Splash of orange juice
Splash of simple syrup
Garnish = Orange Wheel

Glassware = Martini Glass
Finished with a dash of Blue Curacao into finished drink

In an ice-filled mixing glass or shaker, add La Clandestine Absinthe, the Tequila, and the Combier with the splash of orange juice and the splash of simple syrup. Shake vigorously until shaker gets ice cold. Strain into the Martini glass. NOW add the drop or two of Blue Curacao - it will sink to the bottom to form a “layer”. Put an orange wheel on the rim, or a very thinly sliced orange wheel floating in the drink.

If anyone has any other cocktails that combine tequila and absinthe, I'd love to see them. In the meantime, enjoy the Cinco de Mayo, but not too much. Salud!

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