Say tequila in a bar and the near universal reaction is “Shots!” And that’s a shame.
Today’s tequila is light years away from the stuff responsible for that reputation—a reputation that’s incredibly unfair to what is one of the most complex and diverse spirits available today.
Good tequila is made from 100% agave plants that takes up to eight years to mature. The junk you pounded shots with friends to get drunk was likely only 50% agave and dosed with caramel to give it a fake gold colour. It’s not today’s tequila and you shouldn’t confuse the two. It’s like comparing a Model T to a Tesla, they’re both cars per se, but have almost nothing in common.
I bet everyone knows one famous tequila cocktail, but unfortunately, that cocktail was introduced to most of us with that same sub-par tequila. It was served with so much sugar (or worse, out of a machine) that it tasted like a lime slush. You couldn’t taste the tequila and likely didn’t want to. Yes, I am talking about the margarita (more on this cocktail in a future column).
Instead of hiding the taste of good tequila, today’s cocktail highlights it, in a perfect summer cocktail: the Siesta. Its light, zesty, refreshing and looks like something fun to drink. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s because its only been around for a little over a decade, invented in 2006, while the margarita has been with us since the 30s or 40s, depending on who you believe.
My favourite Siesta recipe:
- 2 oz blanco tequila
- 0.5 oz Campari
- 0.5 oz grapefruit juice
- 0.5 oz lime juice
- 0.5 oz simple syrup
A couple notes:
Do a little research and use a good tequila ($35 a bottle and up). It makes a difference. Simple syrup is sugar and water, easy to make, Google is your friend (if you don’t like super sweet like me, cut the sugar or add water). And for God’s sake, we’re making craft cocktails here, don’t buy good tequila, a bottle of Campari then use bottled juices. Buy some limes and a grapefruit or two.
Put all the ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake for 30 seconds and strain into a chilled glass without ice. Impress all your snooty foodie friends with your mad cocktail skills!
Randall had the misfortune of being a bartender in the late 1980s, widely considered Hell in the annals of cocktail history—remember the fuzzy navel, the tequila sunrise and various coconut and blue curacao drinks? Resistance might have been futile against the Borg, but there was no way he was giving in, he kept drinking his Manhattans, Rob Roys and Old Fashioneds, despite almost never serving one at the bar.