Tag Archives: cocktails

Smoky Margarita Syrup

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I ran out of my last batch of smoky tea syrup and did not take notes when I made it.  So, today, I’m making some more.  I made regular margaritas yesterday and found them less tasty (okay, sweet.) than my new regular.

So, I have all of the ingredients handy, and I did write my measurements down:

First, start with the chile water:

Put the three chile peppers in a pan with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat off and let the chile peppers “steep” for a whle – you may smush the chile peppers with a wooden spoon if you like.

Strain the chiles into a receptacle to catch the chile water.  You may save the chiles for another use. Check the measurements and add more water if necessary to bring the amount to 3 cups again.

Next, use the chile water to steep your tea:

Return the chile water to the pot and bring to a light boil again.  Place tea bags in pot and steep for a while.

Add:

  • 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Penzey’s smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. Penzey’s ground red chipotle
  • a dash of cinnamon (okay, that may not be necessary)

Strain the mixture one more time and add the following while the water is still hot:

  • 2 cups sugar (1 cup white and 1 cup brown) – I ran out of white sugar.

I strained it one last time, adding a paper towel to my strainer to sift out most of the grains of spice.

Transfer to a glass or plastic bottle or container and keep in the refrigerator. Keeps in the refrigerator for over a month.

It looks sort of like this...Here is the first try-out:

Pour the ingredients (except the lime wedge) over ice into a cocktail shaker.  Shake well, then pour into a glass with crushed or chipped ice cubes.  Garnish with lime wedge.

Now, ordinarily, this is also supposed to include Mezcal, but I didn’t buy any this time.  I have to say that this is pretty good – I could taste the chipotle only in the concentrated syrup.  I didn’t think that the drink itself was spicy in a bad way.

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In Pursuit of the Smokey Margarita…

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I spent the month of July and part of August in Oaxaca – it was an amazing opportunity.  I was awarded a fellowship to the NEH Summer Institute for Teachers there, where we studied Mesoamerican Cultures in History.  While we were there, we were educated on the production of mezcal, and even visited a mezcal distillery run by Beneva called Rancho Zapata.  The waiters there were kind enough to pass out free samples.  As were all of the pretty girls who ran the tasting rooms on the streets of Oaxaca.

The main difference between tequila and mezcal is the type of agave used, and the process for distillation.  The main characteristic, I think, for mezcal is that the agave is roasted before it’s fermented.  Here is a cute little video that leans a bit in the favor of mezcal…

Anyhoo… When I returned to Atlanta, I was happy to see that at my favorite restaurant – El Agavero Cantina – there was a drink offered called the Smokey Margarita.  It was actually a happy accident that I got to taste it.  My friend who arrived early had ordered it and did not like it.  She mentioned that it had mezcal in it.  So, I traded my margarita for hers.  Every since then, I have ordered it when I dine there.

Of course, I started wondering just what made it smokey.  Sure, mezcal has a smokey taste, but not that smokey.  So… to the internet!!!

In my search for the terms “smokey” and “margarita” – this is what I got:

A recipe by Bobby Flay for the Food Network:

  • 2 ounces tequila (recommended: El Tesoro)
  • 1-ounce Triple Sec
  • 1-ounce fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon simple syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • 1/2-ounce mezcal (recommended: Del Maguey “Chichicapa” Single Village Mezcal)

Place tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and shake until combined. Serve over ice in a rocks glass and pour mezcal on top; do not stir the mezcal into the drink, as it should “float” on top.

It was kicked up a notch by this reviewer: ” The mescal really adds some nice flavor. Took it one step further and picked up some smoked salt at whole foods to rim the glass and all I can say is that is one fantastic margarita smokey goodness.”

Here is another from the blog Daddy-O’s Martinis:

Build over ice in a double old fashioned glass.
1 oz metl silver mezcal
1/2 oz metl silver tequila
1/2 oz grand marnier
1/1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz agave nectar

Place the bottom of a cocktail shaker upside down to cover the old fashion glass and shake vigorously. Reserve drink in tin and salt rim of glass, pour back into the same glass and garnish with a lime wedge.

This one from Mission: Margarita – it is similar to Bobby Flay’s recipe.

Here is one that uses smoked paprika to add flavor:

Ingredients For 2 Cocktails

  • 3 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon
    smoked paprika,* divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 6 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 ounces tequila

Preparation

  1. Mix sea salt and 1 tablespoon of the smoked paprika on a small plate. Wet outside rims of margarita or other beverage glasses with lime wedge. Dip glasses into sea salt mixture to coat.
  2. Fill cocktail shaker with 2 cups of ice. Add lime juice, agave nectar, tequila and remaining 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika; shake until well mixed and chilled. Immediately pour into prepared glasses.

*The regular paprika you have in the spice cabinet is probably sweet paprika. Spanish smoked paprika is a special kind, smoked over oak fires so it takes on a smoky flavor. In Hungary, there are six classes, or types, of paprika ranging from delicate to hot. In order to achieve the flavors of this recipe, you’ll need to use Spanish smoked paprika.

But this recipe – Carlyle’s Smoky Margarita (notice the smoky instead of smokey?) – gave me some real ideas:

1.75 oz Herradura reposado tequila
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz lapsang souchong syrup

Shake over ice and serve on the rocks in a salt-rimmed glass.

Here’s his note about the lapsang souchong syrup:

Lapsang souchong is a delicious Chinese black tea dried over burning pine wood. This distinctive process gives it a strong smoky aroma that lends itself well to use in cocktails. To make the syrup, simply brew hot lapsang souchong and mix with an equal volume of sugar.

So, I’ve been working with smokey things:  dried ancho chiles soaked in hot water, powdered chipotle chiles and ancho chiles, paprika (not the smoked kind, though), and I even a couple of packets of All Night Samba Yerba Mate tea I had in the pantry.  And, yes, I mixed them all together.  It wasn’t bad.

Now, so far, the only variety of Mezcal I have been able to find is Monte Alban.  It’s not bad, but I was just curious as to whether or not there was a smokier brand.

But, lucky for me, I live near downtown Norcross, home of a great shop called Taste of Britain.  And what do the British LOVE?  Tea!!!  Strong, black tea.  So, I stopped by and bought a large box of Taylor’s of Harrogate Lapsang Souchong tea bags.  And, boy are they smokey…

At the moment, this is my recipe:

1 part tequila (Jose Cuervo Traditional)

1/2 to 3/4  part Patron Citronge (or orange liqueur)

2 parts sour mix (I am using 1 part Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix and 1 part Sinless Margarita Mix at the moment)

1/2 to 1 part strong tea mix*

agave nectar to taste

*I am still tweaking the mix.  More on that later…

 

 

 

Aguas Frescas with Alcohol

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Of course, I looked for aguas frescas that were used as alcoholic drink

Tamarind Margarita

mixers. In downtown Norcross, a Mexican restaurant called Zapata served me a tamarind margarita that was pretty good. And, in looking for a recipe for that, my search turned up with recipes for a Gitatini (a Ginger Tamarind cocktail), a Tamarind Martini (from Cooking Light), a Tamarind and Vodka Cocktail (served in a pitcher), and Tamarind Borracho (drunken tamarind). Oh, here’s a Tamarind Margarita with a Chili Rim… Quite a few of the recipes call for Tamarind Concentrate, which I just found in an ethnic grocery.

Of course, since aguas frescas are basically fruit juices, you can just add alcohol to them, and Boom! – you’ve got a drink.  But I thought that I would look to see if anyone had purposefully created a cocktail using aguas frescas as a base.

Here are some more cocktail ideas:

Aguas at the Loteria Grill

I found an Australian company called Sunbeat that makes condensed syrups in exotic flavors.  They have PDF files of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks using all sorts of unusual ingredients, such as dragon fruit, hibiscus, rooibus, lemongrass and ginger.

I came across that site while looking for a Hibiscus version of a Sea Breeze coctail, which is made with Cranberry Juice.  I also found a New Orleans restaurant called The Green Goddess which has a very unusual food and drink menu.  I found this description: Organic Tru Vodka, Hibiscus from Sudan on the Nile River, Acai Juice from the Brazilian Rainforest,  finished with Jamaican Pink Ting.

Okay, I am sure that there are other recipes out there, but I need to wrap this up.  I have a tendency to search things to death – does anyone else do that?

Aguas Frescas: Horchata, Pt. 2 (Rated R…)

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The Smoked Horchata

The Smoked Horchata

Now, let’s talk horchata and alcohol. I found a couple of interesting general articles on using horchata as a mixer.  Of course, there’s the great Squirrel Horchata recipe at Chowhound. But here are some excerpts from a Horchata Cocktails Article on HalogenLife.com:

“Traditionally, forward-thinking citizens have spiked horchata with rum, Cointreau, Grand Marnier or brandy, but finding formalized cocktails has been rare (in California, some Latino bars apparently make a “Rice Rocket,” a potent mix of horchata, coconut-flavored rum and Goldschlager).”

Note:  I was just thinking about the “bling” factor of a liqueur with tiny pieces of gold floating in it, but I just read that Goldschlager has a cinnamon flavor.  That would make it more appropriate than I thought for a horchata drink.

and this (most intriguing):

“At the creative cocktail den Death & Company, you can pick up the very complicated “Smoked Horchata” crafted by bartender Joaquin Simo. The recipe involves reposado tequila, crema de mezcal, cinnamon bark syrup, house-made horchata (crafted with toasted coconut flakes and almond flour) and a dash of bitters. The resulting cocktail is dense but crisp. An unexpected summer drink, like the base liquid itself, it somehow manages to restore.”

Yay!!! I found a PDF of Smoked Horchata recipe, including the easy horchata (made with rice and almond milks with coconut water) and cinnamon bark syrup (added to other drinks as well) at Tasting Table.com.  It looks fascinating! Here’s another cinnamon bark syrup recipe used in a non-horchata drink from Imbibe Magazine.

Fodors.com highly recommends a horchata drink called The Spicy Brown Girl made at Stir Lounge in Las Vegas:

“While the Horchata gives the Spicy Brown Girl its creamy consistency, the drink’s zing comes from (mixologist Niles) Peacock’s homemade Ancho chile simple syrup, a spicy mixer that leaves the palate surprisingly hot. Other ingredients: Smirnoff Vanilla Twist Vodka, dark Crème de Cacao, and Peacock’s homemade Madagascar cello, which he makes with Madagascar vanilla beans.”

I could not find a recipe for the Spicy Brown Girl on the internet, so I looked for recipes for the components of the drink.  Here is an Ancho Chile Syrup Recipe to try (scroll to the middle of the page). I could not find a recipe for “Madagascar cello”, but I assume it is vodka infused with Madagascar vanilla bean pods.  Here is a link to Marie Brizard’s Vanilla Liqueur, which I think might be an acceptable substitute.

The Rosa’s Horchata Site had five cocktail recipes using their canned or bottled ready-made horchata. Click here for the page with the recipes and here for a PDF file to download.

On other random sites, I found some other drinks recipes:

  • Here’s one for Rum-Spiked Horchata, which uses condensed milk and then rum to replace some of the water.
  • Here is a Sarah Moulton recipe for a coconut rice cooler with optional rum added.
  • The Monte Alban on DrinkNation.com is similar to the Rice Rocket, but uses tequila instead of coconut-flavored rum.
  • DrinksMixer.com had the Rojo Robles,which adds coffee liqueur and raspberry vodka to the horchata, and…
  • The Reggaton, made with horchata and Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum.
  • In the middle of this article  is a recipe for Heavenly Horchata, made with tequila and Kahlua.
  • The La Palapa Horchata has vanilla vodka and amaretto added to it.
  • Horchata Macau uses just a bit of spiced almond horchata with Flor de Cana guava-infused white rum and fresh lemon.
  • the White Widow has tequila, melon liquor and horchata

I just found a fascinating article on orgeat syrups. The original orgeat syrup is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water or orange-flower water. It was, however, originally made with a barley-almond blend. (from Wikipedia).  Here is a step by step recipe for French orgeat syrup with illustrations.

This article from RookieLibations at Blogspot seems to be playing around with derivatives based on rice-based drinks.  Check it out – there are recipes for three different types of syrup.  There is a syrup using a horchata de melon recipe, which is used in a drink called the Melon de Rosa.  There is a rice horchata syrup recipe with a pisco drink called a Fausto Cocktail.  Finally, there’s a wacky syrup based on thandai (a northern Indian concoction) with a cocktail called the Isodo Cocktail.  Very creative!