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Dia De Los Muertos – A Mexican Celebration

Tequila is, undoubtedly, the spirit of Mexico. Tequila’s sophisticated and continuously increasing quality is the result of blending native agricultural techniques and modern technology, all held together with tradition.

Being Mexican, this traditional backbone inevitably includes one of the most spiritual celebrations in the human world: Dia De Los Muertos.

Dia De Los Muertos, or the day of the dead (DOTD), is a celebration that grips the entirety of Mexico on the 1st & 2nd of November. To pay homage to this spiritual celebration I’ve gathered three of the best 100% agave tequilas available to me here in the UK.

 

day-of-the-dead-204541_960_720.jpg
Dia De Los Muertos is tradition across Mexico!

 

Taking one cocktail from each brands’ website, I will recreate them, aiming to not only showcase brand used but to really help you get a traditional Mexican celebration going this Dia De Los Muertos.

But, before we delve into the recipes, let’s take a little look a what Dia De Los Muertos is, and why it is so widely celebrated across the country Tequila calls home…

Whilst predominantly celebrated in the central and southern regions of Mexico, DOTD has spread to most of the northern regions as well, no small part due to the Mexican Government declaring it a national holiday.

DOTD takes place on the 1st & 2nd November every year and even though this coincides with the catholic holidays of All Souls and All Saints day, the Mexican population has managed to blend both religion and tradition together, culminating in this very spiritual event.

DOTD rests on the belief that, for the 1st of November, the spirits of deceased children will be allowed passage to Earth, from heaven. During this 24hr period, the children return to their loved ones and enjoy the festivities laid out for them by their friends and families.

On the 2nd of November, adult spirits also return down to their loved ones, enjoying the singing, dancing, and other festivities laid out especially for them.

Almost all houses will contain a homemade altar decorated with marigold flowers, candles, sugar skulls, and pictures of the deceased loved one(s) along with their favourite food and drink. This is all done by the deceased’s families and friends and can come at a great personal expense. But, as this holiday is all about celebrating the lives of their loved ones, the economic cost is not a driving factor – it just serves as an example of how important to the Mexican people this tradition is.

On the 2nd, festivities are taken to the cemeteries and there the individuals will sing, dance, and care for their loved ones’ gravestones. Stories are told of their loved ones and families, friends, and others, all gather to celebrate the lives of their deceased.

Dia De Los Muertos is an upbeat celebration that captures the spirit of joy and ultimately shows a true acceptance of death in everyday life. This tradition celebrates the life of the deceased rather than simply mourning the dead.

Dia De Los Muertos is such a celebration that tequila brands jump at the chance to share it with the world. Of course, it acts as a great selling point for their brands but, ultimately, they also share this celebration with the world.

Simply put, Tequila brands make Mexico’s most famous alcoholic beverage and they make it in the traditional way. Part of this tradition is celebrating Dia De Los Muertos. That is why most tequila brands (especially the 100% agave ones) will really kick things up a notch around the end of October…

Now for what you’ve all been waiting for, the 3 gloriously delicious Dia De Los Muertos cocktails…

Patron – Fresas En Fuego

20161029_140226

Recipe:

(45ml) 3 measures Patron Silver

(15ml) 1 measure Ginger Liqueur

(15ml) 1 measure Fresh Lime Juice

(15ml) 1 measure Sugar Syrup

4 x Hulled Strawberries

2 x Jalapeno coins (slices)

Garnish: Strawberry & Jalapeno Skewer.

Method:

  • In a shaker, muddle the strawberries, jalapeno coins, and sugar syrup.
  • Add the tequila, ginger liqueur, and lime juice.
  • Shake well over ice.
  • Double strain into a chilled coupe cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with the strawberry & jalapeno skewer.

Patron Tequila is as beautifully crafted as they come. It is a premium brand in that it does cost a small fortune to sample some of their high-end products but, as with all alcohol brands, you pay for what you get. All their products are handmade, from Pina to Cork, and this is evident in the high quality taste their products are renown for.

Fervent Shaker Top Tip: If you love spice in your cocktail, try infusing your Patron Silver tequila with some sliced Jalapenos.

Herradura – Agave Seco

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Recipe:

1 measure Herradura Silver Tequila

1 ¼ measure Cointreau

½ measure Campari

1 measure Fresh Orange Juice

1 measure Fresh Grapefruit Juice

Garnish: 1-2 slices Kiwi, 1-2 slices strawberries, and 1 sprig Mint.

Method:

  • Add the tequila, Cointreau, Campari, and juices to an ice-filled shaker.
  • Shake well (10-15 seconds should do it)
  • Strain into a chilled rocks glass.
  • Garnish with the kiwi, strawberries, and mint sprig.

Herradura produce 100% agave tequila and they pride themselves on slowly aged uncompromising tequila. They barrel age their Tequila longer than the standard required and the quality of their products show through. I had the pleasure of sampling their range at Imbibe Live 2016 and believe me, they are sublime in their quality.

 

Ocho – El Diablo

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Recipe:

50ml  Ocho Blanco

25ml Fresh Lime Juice

10ml Fresh Ginger Syrup

10ml Creme De Cassis

Top Up Ginger Ale

Garnish: 2 x Lime wedges

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients over ice and shake well (again, 10-15 seconds should suffice).
  • Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge. Or two.

The El Diablo Is a cocktail I’ve been excited about for a long time. It’s simple, yet tremendously satisfying to drink. Its balance of heat and sweet is sublime and it brings out the playfulness of the tequila!

Fervent Shaker Top Tip: If you want a higher hit of heat to this drink, muddle some fresh root ginger in the bottom of the glass with the lime juice. It will add a little raw heat to the overall taste!

So there you have 3 stunning cocktails, using 3 rather eloquent 100% agave tequilas, and what’s more, they’ll all help you kick off your Dia De Los Muertos celebrations with a bang!

Do you have any parties planned for this spooky weekend? Try turning them into a celebration and revel in the spiritual togetherness Dia De Los Muertos stands for!

Disclaimer: the Herradura Tequila was provided as a sample by the grace of Mangrove, a drinks distributor here in the UK. The sample was free, but that in no way biases y statements. Any comments made in this post (or any other) is strictly of my own opinion and will always be so.

Are you a celebrator of the spiritual Dia De Los Muertos? If so, what is your cocktail of choice, if you choose to drink one?

If you enjoy your tequila in other ways this time of year, why not share them in the comments?

March Cocktails: 3 For Spring

It’s March… The month of my birth, the peak of spring, and the start of the summer solstice. I thought I’d start my return to this blog with some classic ‘me’ cocktail. So below you’ll find 3 long, fruity and rather gorgeous looking cocktails. All of which will naturally be sweet.

I have been looking for a cocktail that really matches how I’m feeling this march. I’ve been off alcohol for so long that I just want something to really hit home. I looked for cocktails with a well-balanced yet complicated cacophony of flavours and, where possible, cocktails that had a little something special.

I eventually settled for a Tropical Tequila Cocktail: The White Peach Tequila Cocktail, a Pisco sour flavoured with thyme: The Pisco Thyme, and finally a favourite I’ve yearned to make myself: The Canon Cocktail.


 

Cocktail #1: White Peach Tequila Cocktail

white peach tequila cocktail

Recipe:

2 ripe white peaches

60ml silver tequila

60ml peach liqueur

60ml lime juice

2 tbsp. sugar syrup

Garnish: Sliced Peaches & mint sprigs.

 

Method:

  • Pit, peel, and chop the peaches before blending them and then sieving the puree into a bowl.
  • Combine the puree, and all other ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Serve over ice in a large rocks glass and garnish with the sliced peach and mint sprig.

pisco thyme

Cocktail #2: Pisco Thyme

 

Recipe:

60ml Pisco

30ml Lime Juice

30ml Thyme Simple Syrup

Method:

  • Shake all ingredients over ice until well chilled. Around 20seconds.
  • Double strain cocktail into a coupe glass and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

 


 

Cocktail #3: The Canon Cocktail

jamie boudreau canon cocktail

Recipe:

1 measure Rye Whisky

½ measure sweet vermouth

½ measure Ramazzotti Amaro

Cointreau Foam

Bitter Truth old time aromatic bitters

Method:

  • Stir first 3 ingredients over ice.
  • Strain into a chilled rock glass and top with a Cointreau Foam
  • Using a dropper, place a few drops of bitters on top of the foam.

This final cocktail is the signature cocktail of the Canon Bar, Seattle. Canon is a bar owned and run by a legend in the bartending world: Jamie Boudreau. It’s a great cocktail I’ve always wanted to try. Sure it’s a whisky cocktail, and whisky is not my favourite, but this Manhattan-old fashioned style hybrid cocktail really has an air of class about it.

To give some idea of how the legend himself makes this cocktail please refer to the attached video below:

Tomato & Basil Vodka, And A Bloody Nose To Boot…

The third of my infused vodkas is the only savoury one I’m sharing. I have a sweet tooth, well several actually, and therefore it is extremely hard to find savoury infusions that I actually like…

This infusion is mainly for those who like their bloody mary mixtures a little more home-made and flavourful. Infusing Tomato and Basil into a quality Vodka will, if done correctly, add a completely new layer of depth in flavour. Sure Bloody Mary Cocktails are great, but you can always do it better…

Tomato & Basil Vodka

Recipe:

6 large tomatoes

Handful of fresh Basil

70cl (700ml) High-quality Vodka

Method:

  • Cut each tomato up into 8 pieces put into a sterilised glass jar with the fresh basil.
  • Add the vodka, seal the bottle and gently shake to mix the ingredients.
  • Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight for up to 7 days.
  • Fine-strain into the original vodka bottle, and discard the solids.
  • Re-seal the original bottle and store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight or in the fridge.

Whilst I don’t usually go for such a savoury concoction, this one works rather well in a particular type of vodka based cocktail: Bloody Marys.

Basil Bloody Mary

tomato and basil bloody mary
Image taken from A Beautiful Mess (see below for link)

Recipe:

50ml Tomato & Basil Infused Vodka

150ml Fresh Tomato Juice

2 sprigs Fresh Basil

1/2 Lemon

1/2 tsp Tabasco Sauce

1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

Garnish: Olives & peppered cheddar skewers, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper..

Method:

  • Muddle the basil leaves with half a lemons worth of juice.
  • Half fill the glass with ice and then the same again with the Bloody Mary Mix.
  • Add in the vodka, stir and then add the tabasco and worcestershire sauces.
  • top up with ice and then garnish with a skewer comprised of the olives and cheddar squares, and a sprig of basil.

Combined with various other savoury ingredients the tomato and basil flavour really shines through and even takes away some of the alcohol burn associated with a strong drink…

To visit the ‘A Beautiful Mess’ – the site home to the recipe upon which i based my own, please click here.

Fervent Shaker Top Tip: If you have any vodka cocktails that involve tequila, you should definitely give this infusion a try. It pairs well with tequila and especially spicy cocktails!

Pineapple Vodka, With Extra Toppings…

The final of my 3 Vodka infusions; this sweet and tropical infusion will be perfect for those with a sweet tooth and a penchant for the tang of a fresh pineapple (like me).

It is a relatively versatile infusion that works best in tropical cocktails but also finds its place in the more ‘traditional’ recipes. Think along the lines of a Tropical Martini or Tangy Screwdriver…

Check out the infusion recipe below and then enjoy the tropical combination of your new Pineapple Vodka and a cocktail whose origin story was set in Brazil; The Very Tropical Caipiroska.

Pineapple Infused Vodka

Recipe:

1 whole (medium) pineapple, sliced/diced

70cl (700ml) Vodka

50 grams Sugar

Method:

  • Add all of the ingredients to a sterilised & tight sealing bottle.
  • Leave to sit for up to 48hrs.
  • Strain into the original vodka bottle and seal it.
  • Keep in a cool dry place away from sunlight, or in the fridge/freezer if you want it served chilled…

This infusion is extremely fresh and does not hide its tropical pineapple flavour! This vodka is a wonderful inclusion in any cocktail you want to perk up with a tropical hit. Try it in your next vodka base tropical drink or as an addition to your next Pina Colada!

Cocktail: Very Tropical Caipiroska

pineapple caipiroska 1

Recipe:

50ml Pineapple Infused Vodka

1 Lime

2 teaspoons Sugar*

Garnish: Pineapple leaf & speared fruit.

Method:

  • Add the sugar into a rocks glass.
  • Cut the lime into quarters and then squeeze and drop each piece into the glass skin up.
  • Very gently muddle the lime and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, fill the glass with crushed ice.
  • Add in your infused vodka, cover with a napkin and swizzle.
  • Top up with more crushed ice and then garnish.
  • Serve with a straw…

*the type of sugar determines the amount of muddling. Whilst using a sugar cube looks good, it also requires a lot more work. Use some granulated sugar, or better yet go for caster sugar!

This cocktail is based on the classic Caipirinha from Brazil and was huge during the last world cup [Brazil 2014]. During the 4 weeks that Fifa’s biggest tournament ran, there were more variations on the Caipirinha than one could shake a proverbial stick at. Whilst the Caipiroska was already well-liked before the WC, it did benefit a great deal from the exposure of its parent during the football tournament…

Caipirinha ingredients
A Caipirinha is a simple 3 ingredient drink: Cachaca, Lime & Sugar…

With citrus flavours galore and vast amounts of other tropical flavours a-plenty, the Caipi family of cocktails have gone from strength to strength. There are so many different varieties of this drink that it was only a matter of time before infused spirits/liqueurs made their way into the recipes!

This pineapple vodka based version is fruitier and lighter than a normal Caipiroska (the infusion process takes some of the alcohol burn away.

Fervent Shaker Top Tip: This cocktail is fantastic short and iced. But if you’re after something a little longer (and lighter) then why not make this in a tall Collins glass? You’ll have to prepare it in a rocks glass before adding it to the larger glass. You should pour the ingredients (once muddled) into a Collins glass, add the ice, then the alcohol. Before adding more crushed ice, add in some fruit juice – in this instance a splash of Pineapple & Mango would be fantastic! – Then top up with the ice.

Cranberry-Lime Vodka & A tweaked out Vesper…

Over the next 3 weeks I’ll be sharing with you 3 infused vodka recipes, and ending each post with a cocktail recipe that shows the infusion off in all its glory. So sit back, get your notepads ready and enjoy the next week of vodka infusions!!!

n.b. These cocktails may or may not be my own recipes, although mostly they will be tweaks of other cocktails. 

Let’s jump straight into the action with this simple, yet rather versatile Vodka Infusion:

The first recipe is for a Cranberry-lime Vodka that really does feel at home in any home bar. With various cocktails using vodka and the 2 infusing ingredients; this infusion will add a depth of flavour to every cocktail you use it in!

Cranberry-Lime vodka

70cl (700ml) Bottle of high quality Vodka

1 lime

100g of cranberries

2 tbsp Sugar

Method:

  • Peel the rind off the lime and set aside the lime itself (you only need the peel).
  • Poke a hole in each cranberry (a fork works well here).
  • Add both the cranberries and lime peel into a large, sealed glass bottle.
  • Add in the sugar and the pour in the vodka.
  • Seal the bottle and store away from sunlight for up to 7 days.
  • After 7 days the colour of the vodka will have changed to a red hue. Leave the fruit in the vodka and enjoy chilled…

This vodka is extremely simple to make. Like most infusions the worst part is simply waiting to try it! The cranberry-lime flavour combination is not a new concept, but it is a great concept. This particular recipe will result in an extra fruity kick in your cocktails, especially a home made cosmopolitan. My preferred cocktail for this vodka however, is a tweak on the classic Vesper Martini:

Cranberry-Lime Vesper

cranberry lime vesper

3 measures Beefeater Gin

1 measure Cranberry-Lime Infused Vodka

½ measure Lillet Blanc

Garnish: Lime Twist

Method:

  • Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass and add plenty of cubed ice.
  • Stir well and chill the alcohol properly – anything up to 2 minutes here is totally acceptable!
  • Strain into a well-chilled coupe/classic martini-cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a long thin slice of lemon peel…

This cocktail is based on the famous Bond cocktail: The Vesper. It uses the same ratios as the classic cocktail and makes use of the infused vodka in a cocktail where it won’t over power the other ingredients, but equally stands on its own. This cocktail is the perfect canvas for it to splash its colourful flavour upon. However, I know everyone has different tastes so if this cocktail does not have enough of a fruity kick, then try adding a splash of cranberry juice. This will of course water down the drink so try not to add too much!

Naturally this cocktail will not suit everyone’s taste buds so if you’re one of those who like a more refreshing cocktail then why not try using this infused vodka in any of the following cocktails:

Sea Breeze,

Cosmopolitan,

Spiked Spiced Ciders,

Cape Cod,

Sex on the Beach,

And many more!

Jack Daniels – through the seasons: New Years

The last cocktail in my Jack Daniels through the seasons themed gift was one of my very own creation. It’s a cocktail that will be at home on any cocktail menu throughout the year but, due to the nature of some of its ingredients (specifically the cranberries), is better utilised during the new year period…

Please note that I use fever tree ginger ale in my cocktails, almost exclusively, so it may taste different to what I intended if you use other brands (just tweak it a little to better compliment the brand you use).

New Years’: The Fervent Shaker Tennessee Mule

cranberry mule fs own recipe

About the Drink:

Created in a top secret laboratory hidden away in an underground bunker, this cocktail has been slowly tweaked and re-tweaked for months. Like a strain of the cold virus, no two versions have ever been the same. Until today.

This cocktail has finally come to fruition and the depth in flavour is superb when compared to other similar mixtures. Its moderately simple combination of Jack Daniels Tennessee whisky, apple juice, lime juice, our in-house cranberry simple syrup, and a top of ginger ale, results in a well-balanced yet slightly sweet cocktail that should take the bite out of the whisky whilst keeping all of the flavours intact. The joy of this cocktail is, of course, its depth in flavour.

Using an in house cranberry syrup recipe we can control the flavour balance that is integral to the core of this drink. Thus the measurements are strict in that this recipe relies on the delicate balance between sweet and dry.

This cocktail is perfect for your new year celebrations but also for almost any other special occasion. Just bear in mind that the use of cranberries may restrict this to being a more seasonal tipple.

Tweak note: The Ginger ale can of course be substituted for a lighter flavoured soda although please be aware that doing so can impair the intended flavour profiles.

Recipe:

  • 1 ½ measures Jack Daniels
  • 1 ½ measure Apple Juice
  • ¾ measure in House Cranberry Simple Syrup
  • ½ measure Fresh Lime Juice
  • Top-Up Ginger Ale*
  • Handful of fresh/frozen cranberries

Method:

  • Combine the all of the ingredients, except for the ginger ale, in an ice-filled cocktail shaker.
  • Shake until well-chilled or until the tin ices over. Around 15-30 seconds.
  • Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice until ¾ full.
  • Top up with the ginger ale and garnish with a skewer of fresh/frozen cranberries.
  • Serve with a straw and enjoy!

This was a really fun and interesting gift to create and put together and should be something you can all emulate for your friends and family!

Disclaimer: All of the pictures used across the previous four posts i’ve shared with you (links below) are from the Official Jack Daniels website and when you’re done here, why not check out their other recipes for a little inspiration?

Spring Cocktail

Summer Cocktail

Autumn Cocktail

Winter Cocktail

Please note: this post is in no way endorsed or supported in any way by Jack Daniels or any of their affiliates. This is all my own thoughts and words people! Go me!

Jack Daniels – Through the Seasons: Winter

The fourth cocktail in the Jack Daniels through the seasons is a Winter themed special.

You’ve all tried the Lynchburg Lemonade served at your local weatherspoons right? It’s a cocktail so easy to make and so refreshing that a lot of cocktail bars/pubs will serve it throughout the summer.

Well this next cocktail is similar in that it is refreshing and a great cocktail utilising the warmth of Jack Daniels but adds a nice seasonal twist to an otherwise standard cocktail…

Winter: Lynchburg Cider

Lynchburg Cider jack daniels

About the Drink:

Perfect for the winter months, especially the colder ones, this cocktail is a simple yet highly effective concoction suitable for most affluent drinkers.

The cider can be of any type but stick to your favourite or research which types work best with which types of whisky. This recipe is best followed by utilising your favourite hot cider mixture – if only so you know what to expect from the cider itself.

The cinnamon and lemon are purely for aesthetics and fragrance, although given enough time they’re sure to add their own imprints to the mix.

The Lynchburg Cider is a hard cocktail to get right but if you used the flavours you love and a good quality cider, there’s not much that can go terribly wrong…

Recipe:

  • 1 measure Jack Daniels
  • 5 measures Hot Apple Cider
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • Lemon Slice

Method:

  • Simple build in a mug (or coffee glass).
  • Garnish with the cinnamon stick and lime slice.