National Tequila Day: an Essay

National-Tequila-Day-2015

It’s National Tequila Day! Does everyone have their snifters/rocks glasses/reading glasses ready?

Shortly after I started this blog back in Sept 2014, I wrote a post for a cocktail called Volver along with a Tequila Challenge. The challenge was, “Sip your Tequila instead of taking shots” and an encouragement that “Tequila can be used in so many more recipes than a standard Margarita.” The goal of that post was to open the eyes of the American public to the fact that drinking Tequila does not equal blackout drunk, but that it is a beautiful, complex, and earthy spirit. It is full of life.

Today, I’m not going to make any drinks, I’m just going to smell, sip, and talk about Tequila.

Casa-Noble-Crystal-Blanco

Blanco Tequila

All Tequila begins as Blanco because that is what comes right out of the still. The aging process for Tequila actually begins with the Blue Weber Tequiliana Agave plant itself. These plants are usually grown for anywhere between 7-12 years before being harvested by los jimadores. These agave farmers pull the plants from the earth and strip the beautiful blue leaves from the piña, or heart of the Agave. The piñas are baked for several days, mashed, washed, smashed, and juiced producing a liquid to be fermented. After fermentation is complete, all 100% Blue Agave Tequila is distilled at least twice to remove impurities and bring the spirit up to proof.

So that’s Blanco. No aging in wood, no additional flavours. Literally the purest expression of Agave possible. It’s magnificent. I am absolutely Team Blanco. I fully believe in Blanco and I fully love to sip Blanco. Pictured above is Casa Noble Crystal Blanco Tequila. It has most definitely become one of my favourite Blancos, because Casa Noble is all about passion, heart and terroir.

Terroir is a French word wine enthusiasts use to mean “the characteristic taste and flavor imparted to a wine from the environment in which it is produced.” Essentially, terroir conveys that you, the person drinking the wine should be able to smell and taste what the actual land tastes, smells, feels like. It’s a powerful concept and it absolutely applies to Tequila.

Whatever Blanco becomes your go-to Blanco, be sure you can sip it and be sure you can taste terroir.

Espolon-Reposado

Reposado

Reposado means “rested” en Español and that is precisely what Reposado Tequila is. Once Blanco Tequila leaves the still, it is rested in (usually American but sometimes French) new or ex-bourbon white Oak casks for 2-11 months, imparting some woody, vanilla, and carmel flavors but not much.

Reposado Tequila is actually the most popular type of Tequila in Mexico because it’s a little less wild and a little more refined than Blanco. The thing about a good Reposado is that you can definitely still taste the Agave. I love using Espolón’s Repo because it is smooth and plays well with others. It has enough flavours and fullness to make a cocktail interesting but is also wonderful to sip on its own. (Actually, Espolón Blanco is really great for sipping too.)

There isn’t a lot to say about Reposado because it’s not a contentious expression of Agave. Repo is juuuuust right.

Corralejo-Añejo

Añejo

Now here’s the contention! Here’s where people are getting fired up. Oh Añejo Tequila, what on earth happened to you? Who stole your soul? Who took your Agave away?

Recently in the Tequila industry people have begun to take sides about Añejo Tequila. There is even a book called How the Gringos Stole Tequila which details the impact that America’s recent thirst for Tequila has had on the industry. And one of the greatest impacts has been on Añejo Tequila.

Añejo means “old” en Español and is usually aged in American (but sometimes French) white Oak ex-whiskey casks for 1-3 years. I want to emphasize those last two parts again, ex-whiskey casks for 1-3 years. It could also be aged in ex-sherry casks, ex-Rum casks, etc. Now, this itself is not inherently evil, I mean really, we can’t get too moral or riled up about the aging process of a spirit.

Where we can get a bit upset is when the spirit no longer tastes like itself. With the American market getting soooooo much more interested in Añejo Tequilas have come a whole bunch of products that no longer taste like Agave. They taste like the casks they were aged in: Bourbon, Cognac, Sherry, Rum but somehow not Tequila.

“Gurl! Are you saying we shouldn’t drink these Americanized Añejos? They’re so delicious and smooth! Weren’t you just saying how Tequila should be sipped?”

Yes, I did say that Tequila should be sipped and these Añejos are totally delicious and definitely made for sipping. Yet, perhaps they should be in a different category, a category not called Tequila.

However, this is not the case with Corralejo Añejo which totally still tastes like Agave and totally still feels like Mexican Tequila that Mexicans made out in the fields of Guanajuato, Mexico. There are plenty of Añejos full of terroir and have been mellowed out by a few years in oak. Personally, I like those the best.

The More You Know

Why bring all of this up on National Tequila Day? Because we need to know what we’re drinking when we drink Tequila.

This has been Home Bar Girl encouraging you to think about and sip your Tequila on National Tequila Day. 

Blame it on the Monkeys

Blame-the-Monkeys-No-1-1

Have you ever had one of those days? One of those days where you feel like you’re living in a cartoon? A cartoon with Monkeys, ships made out of Lime halves, and paper sails? Maybe? Hmmm, never mind.

The inspiration for the next two Tiki drinks were literally these lil Monkeys I got from Zombie Hut in Brooklyn. Some friends and I went for a Tiki night back at the end of winter and we got these monkeys with our Scorpion Bowl. It was awesome. Now the Monkeys roam throughout my kitchen, scurrying up bottles of Giffard Banane and drinking all the Rum. They helped me make these cocktails, so they get at least some of the credit.

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Blame the Monkeys No. 1

  • 1 oz Giffard Banane du Bresil
  • 1 oz Flor de Caña 7 Year Rum
  • 1 oz Denizen Aged White Rum
  • 1/2 oz Corralejo Añejo Tequila
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • 1/4 oz Orgeat
  • 1/4 oz DD Mix
  • Garnish: hallowed out Lime half, Maraschino Cherry wrapped Orange peel Rose, Monkeys

Combine ingredients over ice and short shake. Strain into specialty glass over cracked, crushed or pebble ice, and garnish.

Blame-the-Monkeys-2-1

Blame the Monkeys No. 2

  • 1 1/2 oz Flor de Caña 7
  • 1/2 oz Bonal Aperitif
  • 1/4 oz Velvet Falernum
  • 1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
  • 1/2 oz Orgeat
  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice
  • Garnish: Maraschino Cherry-speared Paper Sail, Monkeys

Combine ingredients over ice and short shake. Strain into specialty glass over cracked, crushed or pebble ice, and garnish.

Blame-the-Monkeys-2-2

Thank you lil Monkeys!

The Importance of Being Ernesto

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Recently, I did a post of recent acquisitons which included Amaro CioCiaro. In my initial few words about CioCiaro, I said that I was going to use it in Tiki. I totally still am and already have some Tiki recipes with it, but what I failed to mention was that I was going to use it with Tequila!

“Oh, sweet, beautiful Amaro CioCiaro, how Orange thou art!” -a short laudation by Home Bar Girl

When I get a new liqueur or any sort, I like to think how I can use it in lieu of something else. In the case of Tequila, I wanted to use it in lieu of Cointreau in the Tequila + Citrus + Orange Liqueur format. (Love you forever Cointreau, there will never be another!) I picked an Añejo Tequila (Corralejo is my jam!) as the richer notes would pair better with an Amaro than say, Blanco Tequila. It’s heavenly! You could probably use a good Reposado and it would work just as well.

CioCiaro & Santa Maria

Goodbye Piney, Alpiney Santa Maria, helloooooo CioCiaro!

The Importance of Being Ernesto

  • 1 3/4 oz Corralejo Añejo Tequila
  • 3/4 oz Amaro CioCiaro
  • 3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
  • 1 dropper Brooklyn Hemispherical Sriracha Bitters or any other Chili Spiced bitters
  • Garnish: Orange peel and a Pinch of Salt

Combine ingredients over ice and shake until proper dilution and chilling have occurred. Double strain into coupe, express Orange peel and garnish. Drop a few bits of Salt into the glass.

Cheers!

The-Importance-of-Being-Ernesto-2

Don’t you want this right now? Like, right now/right now/right now!

Ford Island

Ford-Island-1

Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki. It’s a song in my head, it’s a refrain said to the beat of drums. It’s monday morning and I just want some Tiki,Tiki, Tiki, Tiki. I had a friend over the other night just so we could have “blue drinks” cause January is DREARY y’all. We had loads of them (but split them in 1/2 so we wouldn’t get trashed) and then watched Troop Beverly Hills. It was fabulous, simply fabulous! When my friend left, I was inspired to make one last drink.

Remember, if you’ve got a Tiki or Tropical drink to post on Instagram during January, use the hashtag #TikiTheSnowAway!

Ford Island

  • 1 1/2 oz Denizen Aged White Rum
  • 1/2 oz Añejo Tequila
  • 1/2 oz Blue Curaçao
  • 1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
  • 1/4 oz Lemongrass Ginger infused 151 Vodka
  • 1 dash St George Absinthe
  • 3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice
  • 1/4 oz Vanilla Bean Syrup
  • Club Soda
  • Mint Sprig

Combine ingredients in tin and short shake. Strain into Collins glass over ice. Top with Club Soda. Spank the Mint sprig and garnish.

Ford-Island-2

You’re So Kind: 18.21 Bitters Part 1

18.21-Bitters-Promo

So, as I mentioned the other day, the lovely people at 18.21 Bitters sent me a whole bunch of Shrub/Syrup/Bitters. LET ME TELL Y’ALL, I am LOVING 18.21 Bitters! These are so fun, so complex and lend themselves to creativity. Inspirational, I AM INSPIRED! With flavours like Lavender + Sea Salt Syrup and Charred Lime, Jalapeño + Peppercorn Syrup, WHO WOULDN’T BE INSPIRED?

Well, to put all of these products on display in one post would be too much, so I’m gonna split it up. This first post will have recipes for the Shrubs and Syrups and the second post will have recipes for the Bitters.

What I’ve got:

  1. Lavender + Sea Salt Syrup – Salt up front, Lavender second which makes for some excellent layered flavour!
  2. Charred Lime, Jalapeño + Peppercorn Syrup – Savory spice bonanza, hits you all at once! I died with happiness!
  3. Pumpkin Spice Shrub – I don’t care that Halloween and ThanxG are over, this shit is DELICIOUS!
  4. Blackberry Peppercorn Shrub – Honestly, good enough to drink alone with Club Soda. Fabulousness awaits!

And now, the cocktails.

A-Weekend-in-Dover-2

Lavender + Sea Salt Syrup: I tasted it and my mind said, OLD TOM GIN! So I said yes, added some lemon and a bit of Cocchi Americano. You’re welcome.

A Weekend In Dover

  • 2 1/2 oz Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
  • 3/4 oz Cocchi Americano
  • 1/2 oz 18.21 Bitters Lavender + Sea Salt Syrup
  • 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
  • Lemon Peel

Combine ingredients in tin and shakity shake shake. Double strain into coupe, express Lemon peel and garnish.

Zapatista-Landscape-2

Charred Lime, Jalapeño + Peppercorn Syrup: Honestly, I’d recommend first making a standard Margarita with this and THEN get creative. Like, when you get a new Rum, you make a Daiquiri and then you start experimenting. Ya know? It was a damn good Margarita btw.

Zapatista Landscape

  • 1 1/4 oz Corralejo Añejo Tequila
  • 3/4 oz Jalapeño infused Espolón Blanco Tequila
  • 1/2 oz Punt e Mes
  • 1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
  • 1/2 oz 18.21 Bitters Charred Lime Jalapeño Peppercorn Syrup
  • Pinch of Salt

Combine ingredients and stir over ice. Strain into double rocks glass. Add pinch of Salt as garnish.

That-Pumpkin-Business-3

Pumpkin Spice Shrub: Yes, it’s Pumpkin Pie in a glass but it’s also a Shrub so that nice bit of vinegar really makes for awesome sipping. Here’s a drink which combines all of our favourite Autumn/Winter flavours into one drink!

That Pumpkin Business

  • 1 3/4 oz Rye
  • 3/4 oz Laird’s Apple Brandy
  • 1/2 oz Cynar
  • 1/4 oz St Elizabeth Allspice Dram
  • 1 oz 18.21 Bitters Pumpkin Spice Shrub
  • Maraschino Cherry
  • Freshly grated Nutmeg

Combine ingredients in tin and shake over ice. Strain into double rocks glass over ice. Garnish with Cherry and freshly grated Nutmeg.

Decatur-Cola-3

Blackberry + Peppercorn Shrub: Y’all the vinegar in this shrub is Balsamic Vinegar and ooooooh my, it is soooo yummy! This drink sort of follows my “try to make things that aren’t Jack n Coke but sort of remind the drinker that there is more to life than Jack n Coke” formula.

Decatur Cola

  • 1 1/2 oz Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Averna Amaro
  • 1 oz 18.21 Bitters Blackberry Shrub
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Club soda

Combine ingredients in tin over ice and shake shake shake. Strain into Collins glass over ice. Top with Club Soda and garnish with Cherries.

Cheers to you all! I will be posting many more recipes with 18.21 Bitters Shrubs and Syrups so be on the lookout! This has been You’re So Kind, the part of the show where someone sends me some bottles and I talk about how great they are!

Picante Chocolate

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Back 1999, I went to Northern Italy for my high school graduation/birthday present. The first thing I noticed was that everyone was better dressed than anyone I’d ever seen in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sensational fashion, such effortless elegance. I went shopping.

The second thing I noticed was the food. Even though California is renowned for its fresh and delicious cooking, real Italian food was actually more fresh and flavours more supreme. At some point during my trip I had Cioccolata Densa, the very thick Italian version of French Chocolat Chaud both of which are SO MUCH BETTER THAN AMERICAN HOT CHOCOLATE.

European drinking chocolate is thick, delicious and served in smaller cups, not watery, gross, underflavoured and served in giant styrofoam mugs. When I returned to California, I started making my Chocolate Chaud with: Whole Milk, Dark Chocolate chips, a bit of Hot Cocoa Mix and Salt. Later, I added Cinnamon and Chillies cause the Latina in me wanted a lil’ spice.

Once again, this Patrón XO Cafe Incendio is perfect in hot drinks. The Chocolate and Chili really turn this drinking chocolate into a Mexican Mouth-Party. Yep, I did just say that: Mexican Mouth-Party.

Picante Chocolate

  • 6 oz Organic Whole Milk
  • 2 tbsp Dark Chocolate Chips (add more for increased thickness)
  • 1 tbsp Hot Cocoa Mix
  • 1/2 oz Cinnamon Bark Syrup
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 1/2 oz Patrón XO Cafe Incendio
  • 1 oz Corallejo Añejo Tequila
  • 2 dashes Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters
  • Finely Ground Cinnamon
  1. Combine Hot Chocolate ingredients in sauce pot and heat on LOW until chocolate has dissolved and ingredients have mixed well
  2. Just as liquids begin to boil, turn heat off
  3. Add Café Incendio, Añejo Tequila, Chocolate Bitters and stir
  4. Serve in Espresso cups or similarly sized cups, dust with ground Cinnamon

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¡Hello Jalisco!

¡Hello-Jalisco!-1

It’s that time again! Time for another sensational Coffee Cocktail! So, are you ready? Are you ready for that get up and go feeling? Are you ready to run screaming out of the building? Are you ready to run all the way to Jalisco?

This Coffee Cocktail was inspired by Patrón Cafe Incendio, a tasty chocolate liqueur with a nice chili spice made from Patrón Tequila. It goes perfectly with Coffee, Añejo tequila and Chocolate powder. BOOM! I’ll also be using Cafe Incendio in place of Crème de Cacao in some upcoming cocktails.

¡Hello Jalisco!

  • 1 1/2 oz Espresso
  • 1/2 oz Patrón Cafe Incendio
  • 1/2 oz Añejo Tequila
  • 1 oz Half n Half
  • Chocolate powder

Build-in-glass: Add ingredients together and stir. Add ice and chocolate powder on top. ¡Salud!

¡Hello-Jalisco!-3

Hosting in the Holidaze: The Old Fashioned

Ok, so it’s Holiday times and you are probably wondering which cocktails to make for Thanksgiving, Xmas, Chanukah, Boxing Day and all those damn parties you’re going to have between now and New Years Eve. Don’t drive yourself crazy, just make some Old Fashioneds!

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I swear to you, the last three parties that I’ve made cocktails at have included variations on the Old Fashioned and everyone just loved them. It’s such an easy Cocktail to make and you can have so much fun with the ingredients! Plus, you can use any spirit you want in an Old Fashioned! Well, except for Vodka, yuck, don’t ever do that.

The best thing about an Old Fashioned is that no matter what you use in it, the Formula stays the same:

  • 2 oz Spirit
  • 1 barspoon Sweet/1 lump of sweet
  • 2 Dashes of Bitters
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Garnish
  • Build-in-glass: Add Spirit, Sweet, Bitters, Water, and stir until Sweet is nearly dissolved. Add ice, stir until Cocktail is well chilled, and garnish. Drink. Repeat.

Here are five Old Fashioneds to keep your guests happy and praising your Home Bar Skills:

Rye-Old-Fashioned

Rye Old Fashioned: This is the Cocktail that started it all. No seriously, the Old Fashioned is actually the first drink that can be considered a cocktail. The drink got its name toward the end of the 19th Century when bar patrons were asking for a drink “the Old Fashioned way”. That Old Fashioned Cocktail was a drink consisting of Whiskey, Sugar and Bitters. Its modern equivalent is what you see above: Rye Whiskey, Angostura Bitters, Sugar, Orange Peel and/or Maraschino Cherry.

Rye Old Fashioned:

  • 2 oz Rye
  • 1 Barspoon Demerara/Turbinado Sugar
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Orange Peel and Cherry garnish

Build-in-glass: Add Rye, Sugar, Bitters, Water, and stir until Sugar is nearly dissolved. Add ice, stir until Cocktail is well chilled, and garnishes.

Bourbon-Old-Fashioned

Bourbon Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1 Barspoon Brown Sugar
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Orange Peel garnish

Build-in-glass: Add Bourbon, Sugar, Bitters, Water, and stir until Sugar is nearly dissolved. Add ice, stir until Cocktail is well chilled, and garnish.

Apple-Brandy-Old-Fashioned

Apple Brandy Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Apple Brandy
  • 1 Barspoon Maple Syrup
  • 1 dash Black Walnut Bitters
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Maraschino Cherry garnish

Build-in-glass: Add Apple Brandy, Maple Syrup, Bitters, Water, and stir until Maple Syrup is nearly dissolved. Add ice, stir until Cocktail is well chilled, and garnish.

Añejo-Old-Fashioned

Añejo Tequila Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Añejo Tequila
  • 1 Barspoon Agave Nectar
  • 2 Dashes Orange Bitters
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Orange Peel garnish

Build-in-glass: Add Tequila, Agave, Bitters, Water and stir until Agave is nearly dissolved. Add ice, stir until Cocktail is well chilled, and garnish.

Rum-Old-Fashioned

Aged Rum Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Aged Rum
  • 1 Barspoon Brown Sugar
  • 2 dashes Bittermens Elemakule Tiki bitters or Angostura Bitters (island spiced bitters)
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Lime Wheel garnish

Build-in-glass: Add Rum, Sugar, Bitters, Water, and stir until Sugar is nearly dissolved. Add ice, stir until Cocktail is well chilled, and garnish.

*BONUS ROUND: Try to do a 50/50 split on the Spirit. I love to do Gin/Bourbon or Gin/Rye for the split. Apple Brandy/Bourbon also works really well together.

Good luck to you with all your Hosting in the Holidaze!