5 Favorite Tequila Cocktails to Try
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo by sipping one of these tequila-based cocktails
Don Javier Delgado has been tending bar at La Capilla ("the chapel") for 73 years. No, that is not a misprint. He is now 88. This quiet, gracious, and humble man has turned his legendary bar into a place of pilgrimage for many tequila aficionados. Not because they have a large selection of agave spirits (they don’t) or because you can get a plethora of finely crafted cocktails here (you can’t). In fact, you can only get one mixed drink at all at this no-nonsense, working man’s cantina: La Batanga. No one really knows what it translates to, but it is a session drink to be sure (isn’t that what we want on Cinco de Mayo anyway?). Into a tall glass (again rimmed with salt) goes the juice of lime (squeezed by hand of course), ice, a good slug of whatever tequila is close at hand, and topped off with icy Coca-Cola. He stirs it with a large steak knife and there you have it, simplicity personified. Don Javier, we salute you!
Another thing you won’t see many Mexicans doing in Mexico is knocking back shots of tequila. Sure, they drink more tequila than any other country besides the United States, but it’s rarely downed in one shot like many of us across the border choose to do. Much of it is sipped slowly from a tall, thin shot glass called a caballito ("little horse") or a small snifter. This is usually accompanied by a plate of salt and a few wedges of lime. It’s a civilized and enjoyable way to appreciate your tequila. Or you might find a side of sangrita (not to be confused with sangria), a delicious and addictive accompaniment that changes from town to town, bar to bar, house to house. The most common recipes call for tomato juice, orange juice, and lime juice, seasoned with salt and pepper, spiced with hot sauce or fresh chiles, and then from there, the world is your proverbial oyster. Chopped scallions? Why not. BBQ sauce? Sure. I’ve even seen amazing green versions using tomatillos and cilantro. Make sure it's well chilled and take a small sip after every sip of tequila.
Watermelon Margarita Popsicles
Who doesn’t love a popsicle on a hot day? I mean, seriously. But one with alcohol? Oh, my! You could almost put anything into a frozen booze-fuelled popsicle and it will taste good. Fact. Take almost any classic recipe that calls for a decent amount of juice (straight spirits won’t freeze of course) and it will translate into a delicious frozen treat. Take this Frozen Watermelon Margarita as a case study. You take a small amount of 100 percent agave blanco tequila, add some watermelon juice (that you’ve blended and strained), some fresh lime juice, and dash of agave nectar to taste. Pop in the freezer and bring them out at high noon to your unsuspecting guests. This party just got started!
Naren Young is an award winning food, spirits, and cocktail writer who has also built a career as a widely traveled and respected bartender. You can currently find him behind the stick at Saxon + Parole in Manhattan’s East Village. Or follow him on twitter: @forkandshaker.