Happy Labor Day. And the only things can help us get through these last days of summer, as we bid adieu to the season of sunshine and suntans, is a refreshing cocktail with a kick. Consider mixing one of these up today or any day. #Cheers!
Just yesterday I was chatting cocktails with one of my favorite mixologists about why we drink the kind of cocktails we drink. Are we looking for something smooth, subtle, and unrecognizable, or to sip something that excites the palate, with personality, and style. I prefer the latter, not wanting to overpower but knowing that my drink includes the kick of a spirit or two. Often, I find this comes with premium tequila. Unlike spirits made from sugar cane, potato, or grain, tequila’s 100% Blue Weber Agave fruit leads with slightly vegetal, savory earthiness, which is often also quite complex.
Casa Dragones Blanco Tequila ($30) is a pure expression of the agave fruit, produced in small batches from volcanic soils in Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico, the home of premium tequila. With notes of jasmine and grapefruit and a warm palate of clove and pepper, the spirit acts as an ideal base in cocktails, like a Paloma or Margarita. With five years of barrel aging, Casa Dragones Joven Tequila ($75) brings in subtle notes of blanched almonds and hazelnut, with warm spice and toasted vanilla, perfect for sipping on its own.
Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila ($35) is aged four months in heavily charred oak barrels, giving a smoky, sweet, spiced note to the floral spirit, and pairing beautifully with spicy elements like hot peppers, like their signature Paloma. The toasty spirit is also an ideal base in your favorite Old Fashioned or Manhattan, giving similar oaky, spicy characteristics found in Bourbon.
1 ½ part Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
¾ part fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
¾ part fresh lime juice
½ part agave syrup
Preparation: Lightly muddle ¼ grapefruit and four slices jalapeño in a shaker. Combine remainder of ingredients into the shaker over ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a grapefruit slice.
Ultra-smooth, subtle and sophisticated, Camarena Platinum Añejo Tequila is hand-harvested in Jalisco’s Arandas Highlands. 100% Blue Weber Agave, the spirit is distilled through a proprietary method using traditional ovens and modern techniques, creating one of the most refined tequilas available.
1.5 parts Camarena Platinum Añejo
.25 parts Chareau Aloe Vera Liqueur
.5 parts Lime Juice
.75 parts Mixed Berry Syrup
1 bar spoon of Jasmine Water
Garnish with Mint and Strawberry slices
Flavored spirits can often come off as cloying, sweet, and unnatural. Finding one that delivers taste, without palate numbing sweetness is always exciting. Enter Frankly Organic Vodka, ($25) produced from 100% non-GMO organically grown corn in Austin, Texas. Transparency is key to the product, ensuring consumers understand what is in their premium vodka by listing out each ingredient on the bottle. In a time when many producers note their product contains “natural ingredients,” Frankly highlights each on the label. Frankly Organic Grapefruit Vodka contains organic ruby red grapefruit, Ceylon cinnamon, Lemon, Maca root, and maple syrup. Their Organic Strawberry Vodka contains strawberry, lemon, apple, ginger, coconut water, turmeric, wild cherry bark, and maple syrup. Each flavored vodka is also only 60 proof, a lower alcohol level to be able to enjoy throughout an evening. Mix with your favorite seltzer, like those from Q Mixers, like their Q Ginger Beer or Q Grapefruit for a clean, crisp, refreshing cocktail.
September is National Bourbon Month. Yep, a whole month devoted to our uniquely American spirit. On 4 May 1964, the US Congress recognized Bourbon Whiskey as a “distinctive product of the United States.” Noting that to be a Bourbon, the grain-based spirit must be produced from at least 51% corn.
Perini Ranch, located in Buffalo Gap, Texas, recently partnered with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, to create their Perini Ranch Steakhouse Maker’s Mark Private Select Bourbon. Slightly smoky, with hints of caramel, vanilla, dried orange, and spice, the handcrafted spirit, produced to the tastes of Perini Ranch owners, Tom and Lisa Perini. Their Buffalo Gap Ginger Snap is currently the signature cocktail at the steakhouse.
Buffalo Gap Ginger Snap
1.5 oz of Perini Ranch Steakhouse Maker’s Mark Private Select
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz simple syrup
Thin slice of fresh ginger
Preparation: Shake all ingredients in a shaker until very cold and pour over ice. Serve in a rocks glass. Top with a splash of Fever-Tree Ginger Beer and garnish with an orange wheel.
If you want to be cocktail to glass in minutes without all the mixing, a new ready to drink cocktail company has emerged to help. On The Rocks premium craft cocktail company has partnered with select high-end spirits to create a lineup of beloved classic cocktails, available pre-mixed in sizes ranging from 100ml to 375ml. Selections include an On The Rocks Old Fashioned with Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey, bitters, cane sugar, orange, cherry, and lemon zest; On the Rocks Jalapeño Pineapple Margarita combining pineapple and triple sec with Tres Generaciones Tequila and spicy jalapeño; and light and dark Cruzan Rum, with orange, pineapple, orgeat, and coconut creating the perfect On The Rocks Mai Tai. Cocktails range from $4-$13 each.