Tequila Cocktails – Think Beyond the Margarita

There’s no question the margarita still reigns as the most popular tequila cocktail…well most popular cocktail period in the United States, but bartenders are expanding the scope of tequila libations these days by mixing in more than simply lime juice and orange liqueur. These innovative cocktails include drinks like the Tequila Cosmo, which is a twist on the Cosmopolitan that substitutes vodka with tequila. Another is The Mesa Fresca, which is a signature cocktail served at Mesa Grill in New York City that mixes in grapefruit juice. “Tequila is just complex enough with it’s peppery spice quality to give a cocktail layers of flavor that go well beyond just being fresh,” said Laurence Kretchmer, author of The Mesa Grill Guide to Tequila and co-owner with Bobby Flay of Mesa Grill. “Blanco and Reposado tequilas, in particular, with their floral flavor profile are a perfect component for creating bright cocktails with freshly squeezed citrus juices.” Made from blue agave plants grown in Mexico, tequila has sparked a fire on this side of the border that won’t soon go out. Tequila was the fastest growing spirits category last year with an 8.7% growth spurt and mixologists around the country are taking notice. “We’re definitely seeing a renewed interest in tequila,” explains Patricio Sandoval, chef and owner of Mercadito Restaurant in New York where they serve tequila exclusively. “Our customers are excited to learn that all of our cocktails are tequila-based, including the Mojito, which is made traditionally with rum.” Customers are very sophisticated these days when ordering tequila drinks usually specifying brand and age according to Sandoval. It’s now as popular as a fine, elegant after-dinner sipping spirit as it is a mixing agent. Impress your bartender and know the lingo when you place your next tequila order: Blanco – aged under two months, this style of tequila is the purest, and imparts the natural flavors of the blue agave plant. Reposado – aged two to twelve months, this tequila meshes the mellowing traits of wood with the herbal qualities of the blue agave juice. Anejo – aged over one year, Anejo tequilas possess vanilla flavors of the oak in which they’re aged. Cocktail Recipes: Tequila Cosmo Agave, New York City 1 oz tequila 1 oz cranberry juice ½ oz orange flavored liqueur ¼ oz fresh lime juice Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a slice of orange. El Besito Tres Agaves, San Francisco, CA 1 oz tequila 2 oz Apricot puree ½ oz orange-flavored liqueur Serve tall in a highball glass Mesa Fresca Mesa Grill, New York City 1.5 oz tequila Fresh grapefruit juice 1 oz fresh lime juice Pour all ingredients over ice in a highball glass. Mexican Melon Ball Flying V Bar & Grill, Tucson, Arizona 1.5 oz tequila ½ cup freshly squeezed honey dew melons ½ cup freshly squeezed oranges Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with a slice of orange. La Paloma Rosa Mexicano, Washington, DC 1.5 oz tequila Grapefruit soda (not juice) ½ oz fresh lime juice Pour all ingredients over ice in a highball glass. Mojito de Casa Mercadito, New Cork 1.5 oz tequila 2 fresh sprigs of mint leaves ¾ oz fresh lime juice 1 oz simple syrup Muddle mint leaves with simple syrup and lime juice in a mixing glass. Pour in tequila and shake over cracked ice. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Add a splash of soda and garnish with a sprig of mint. Texas Driskill Bar & Grill, Austin, Texas 1 oz tequila ½ oz vodka OR gin Combine ingredients with ice and shake. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a jalepeno-stuffed olive. Tequila Sunrise Paquito’s Mexican Restaurant, Aventura, FL 1.5 oz. tequila Orange Juice Grenadine Fill a highball glass with ice. Add tequila and then fill with fresh orange juice. Top off with Grenadine. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is a national trade association representing the leading brands of distilled spirits. Council member products include the full spectrum of quality distilled spirits such as Bourbon, Scotch and other whiskeys, vodka, gin, tequila, rum, brandy, cordials and liqueurs. The distillers take special pride in their products as well as in their commitment to encourage responsible beverage alcohol consumption by adults who choose to drink distilled spirits. If you choose to drink, be sure to consume sensibly and responsibly.