Tag Archives: Cinco de Mayo

Cinco De Mayo 2015

So Cinco De Mayo is here! It might be nearly over here in the UK but over in the USA it’s just about time to prep your drinks and start upon your drinking night…

My addition this year is a simple yet often overlooked tweak to make your lovely cocktail a little more… punchy.

Recently I was out for a meal at Chiquito’s (a Mexican/Southern American themed chain restaurant here in the UK) and my tipple of choice whenever visiting this particular branch is their exceptional Dark N’ Stormy. They use Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, and of course Goslings ginger ale – What you have to use to create a Dark n’ Stormy, and call it so.

Well I finished my first one and, sporting my Mexican sports jacket (I purchased it during the 2014 world cup – it’s a delightful shade of green) I asked the waitress if she would mind asking the bartender to make me a Dark N’ Stormy, but with a tweak… She told me they can if they have the means, so I asked for a Dark N’ Stormy but for Tequila instead of rum, I said I wasn’t too fussed on what tequila, just whatever the bartender thought would work best.

Now I don’t know what tequila the bartender used, nor did I remember to ask on my way out (a mistake on my part – although I’d had a few and was with friends). All I know is that it tasted fantastic, and worked wonderfully! So whilst I do not know what tequila was used (I’ve left that to your own tastes) I have included a recipe I know to be pretty accurate to what I had:

Cinco De Mayo Special: Mexican Storm

Whilst it lacks the famous looking dark line at the top of the drink, it has a little more kick and is perfect for your Mexican themed parties...
Whilst it lacks the famous looking dark line at the top of the drink, it has a little more kick and is perfect for your Mexican themed parties…

Recipe:

50ml Tequila (your favourite)

150ml Ginger Ale/Beer

15ml Fresh Lime Juice

Method:

  • Pour the ginger ale/beer into a half filled tall glass.
  • Squeeze in the lime juice and top up with the large slug of tequila.
  • Garnish with a slice of lime and serve with a couple of straws.

This cocktail is so simple it’s a wonder it isn’t used more often in the world of cocktails. Supplementing tequila for rum in this case means your drink packs a little more of a kick, as well as making it instantly Mexican themed…

So next time you order a Dark N’ Stormy, switch out the rum for a nice quality Tequila, preferably your favourite, and you may never go back. I know I’m sold!

Happy Cinco De Mayo Everyone!

Que tu noche sea una buena!

OFFER ALERT!!! (25/11/2014)

I knew signing up to newsletters from The Drink Shop would help!

Tequila: It makes you happy... Especially when it's 20% off!
Tequila: It makes you happy… Especially when it’s 20% off!

Today I received an email from them telling me about their next offer: Up to 20% off all their Tequila!

Whislt Tequila is not my most favoured method of poison I do enjoy a wonderful Paloma or a well seasoned Margarita here and there.

So I for one will be partaking in this event and snapping up a few miniatures of some rather expensive (but very tasty) brands. The main Samples i’ll be looking to get are the 3 they stock by Patron. Whilst relatively new over here in the UK (previous 2-3 years at the most) I know it’s pretty big in the USA. It’s something I’ve been wanting to try out for a while now so with Christmas only 1 month away I thought I’d treat myself!

Jalisco: Where the Agave plant rules supreme...
Jalisco: Where the Agave plant rules supreme…

Remember! – When buying Tequila always go for bottles that state ‘100% Agave’ on the bottle. This screams quality and will always taste better than Tequila not made in this way. Not to mention it’ll give you less of a headache*!

For more information on Tequila, or some great tequila cocktails check out the links to my previous posts below. If you want to get straight to the buying the first link takes you to their offer page!

ENJOY 😀

*Like for like 100% agave will not cause as bad a hangover reaction as non-100% agave tequila. Of course this is negated should you drink far too much – which most of you will!

Links:

20% OFF TEQUILA!

Tequila Summer Cocktails!

Tequila Highball

Cinco De Mayo Margaritas!

Best Tequila for under £40!

Casamigo’s Tequila (Hollywood Nights)

Margaritas Three Ways – A Cinco De Mayo Special

Today is the 4th of May 2014. That means Cinco De Mayo is literally around the corner! Whilst not usually a huge deal here in the UK, they revel in Mexican culture across the pond so it’s only natural they have a whole day set aside for a celebration of sorts.

Image
Whilst not necessarily celebrated the same way in Mexico and other Latin American countries, Cinco De Mayo is a festival celebrating all of the finer things Mexican culture has to offer the world.

Whether it’s Chocolate, Spicy Food or even a certain infamous Mexican spirit (or 2) Cinco De Mayo is a celebration and a time for getting together with friends and family…

So what are the 3 margaritas I have in store for you? Well let’s start with a classic recipe and tweak it a little…

Mi Casa Tequila:

Mi Casa Tequila is an extremely high quality 100% Agave Tequila, obviously from Mexico, and is unfortunately not readily available on the UK Market it can be found readily across the USA so if you plan on heading out there any time soon, be sure to pick a bottle up!

It’s an estate-craft tequila from a family run business and has wone numerous awards for their utterly fantastic tequila(s). You can find their page here, but be sure to check out their signature margarita before you do:

Mi Casa Margarita

Recipe:

2 measures Mi Casa Reposado

1 measure St. Germain

¾ measure Fresh Lime Juice

Image
Reposado Tequila always adds a slight depth to the drink, making it even more awesome!

Method:

–  Mix with ice in a shaker and shake until the tin ices over.

–  Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a Lime wedge and fresh sprig of elderflower.

This is a refreshing take on a classic margarita uses the best Elderflower liqueur on the market and awesome tequila to create something familiar yet refreshingly different.

Try it this Cinco De Mayo or any other spring/summer evening it will be a refreshing break from your normal cocktail intake…

Margarita Picante

Recipe:

3 Slices red chilli pepper

2 measures 100% Blanco Tequila

¾ measure Cointreau

½ measure lime juice

½ measure sugar syrup

1 pinch cilantro

Image
This Margarita is dangerously spicy, if you like your drinks hot then this is the one for you!

Method:

–  Combine all the ingredients over ice and shake until the tin ices over.

–  After filling a small rocks glass with cubed ice (and a few slices of red chilli should you prefer*) strain the drink into the glass and garnish with a chilli slice on the rim of the glass.

*The fresh chilli in the glass will add an undercurrent of heat and is recommended for those who love their spicy flavours. Feel free to leave it out if, like me, you prefer a little less heat.

This drink is what it says: Spicy. It holds no punches and can bring a person to tears if they don’t respect it. Using a top quality brand of 100% Blanco Tequila (what else) this drink really is something a little spicy; just the thing to celebrate Mexican culture this Cinco De Mayo…

Roasted Blueberry Basil Margarita

Recipe:

2 measures Grand Marnier

1 ½ measures Blanco Tequila (100% Agave)

2 measures Lime Juice

2 ½ measures Blueberry & Basil Flavoured Sugar Syrup

Garnish: Fresh Whole Blueberries, Basil leaves & Sliced lime. And a Salt/Sugar rim (3:2 Ratio).

Image
So here is the oddball… Sweet & Savoury fuse into something rather special in this magical Margarita – Perfect for headlining your Cinco De Mayo…

Method:

–  Rim a large rocks glass with the salt/sugar mixture (use the lime as adhesive).

–  In a cocktail shaker combine the Grand Marnier, Tequila & Lime Juice, shaking `until the shaker ices over.

–  Fill the glass with ice and then strain in the drink.

–  To garnish; add a blueberry & Lime peel skewer and a fresh sprig of Basil to the top of the drink.

–  Serve with a straw.

This drink is remarkably balanced considering the blueberries are roasted, it’s very easy to over-do them and turn them too bitter for the drink. However done right, the basil and blueberry work wonders for the tequila.

It’s a special little recipe I came across a few months back, tried and loved. It’s perfect for Cinco De Mayo and has a refreshing summer evening feel about it, which means you don’t have to wait too long before you can have another one!

So there you go, 3 margaritas; 3 very different cocktails. The best thing about these drinks is that once Cinco De Mayo is over you can continue enjoying them time and time again. Whether you’re a thrill seeking Picante Margarita, or a sweet and slightly roasted blueberry margarita; there’s a drink here for you…

If you’d like to know how to make the Blueberry-Basil Sugar Syrup then click here and roast away…

Links for further reading, original recipes, pictures etc…

Original Recipes & Pictures:

Roasted Blueberry Basil Margarita

Margarita Picante

Cinco De Mayo Facts

Mi Casa Tequila – Check out their Mission Statement 🙂

Mexican Sangria – Wine, Tequila and baskets of fresh fruit…

Sangria is not an unknown sensation, especially across Latin parts of the world. Whether you find yourself in South America, Mexico or across Southern Europe you will find sangria in one form or another. The basics are as follows:

Wine,

Fruit juice,

Fresh fruit pieces,

Mixer

Classic sangria’s also primarily use red wines; however I prefer the lighter white wine sangrias that are becoming more and more popular. Whether it’s because you can add other spirits, or whether it’s because white wine doesn’t produce an unattractive colour when mixed with different juices; white wine sangrias are just becoming more and more popular…

You might think that this is a bad thing, but in fact it’s a great move. The use of white wines opens the door for the addition of spirits. Rum, Tequila, Vodka & all sorts of fruit liqueurs all have something to add to the world of sangria (just look at how many punches/pitcher cocktails there are!).

This post is a continuation of my previous Sangria blog, and will be aiming to show you how to use Tequila in sangria recipes…

Image

So then, let’s get started…

We begin by taking the white wine sangria from my previous sangria blog:

750ml White wine

1 ½ cups white rum

1 ½ cups orange juice

½ cup white sugar

1 lemon, lime & orange (diced/sliced)

Optional: Selection of orchard fruits (apples, pears, plums etc.) to taste

Top up with lemonade (or sparkling wine for an added kick)

This recipe is very basic, but it covers all the basics already mentioned above. For a very simple Mexican Sangria, you could just switch out the rum for silver tequila. But I like my sangria a little more refined. And below are some recipes and tips that show why these sangria’s work.

Recipe 1: Especial Heaven

750ml Casillero Del Diablo Chardonnay*

500ml Jose Cuervo Especial Gold Tequila**

500ml Orange Juice

500ml Grapefruit Juice

250ml Cranberry Juice

½ cup Muscovado Sugar

2L Grapefruit soda to top

Lemon, Lime, Orange & Pink grapefruit slices (1 of each fruit sliced up)

Selection of preferred hard fruits: Apples, Pears, peaches, apricots etc…

Add the alcohol, juice and sugar into a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then add the fruit and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Then, just before serving add the Grapefruit soda.

*Casillero Del Diablo Chardonnay 75cl (750ml): £7.99 from www.Tesco.com.

**Jose Cuervo Especial Gold Tequila 50cl (500ml): £14.00 from www.tesco.com.

This Chardonnay wine from Chile will work perfectly with the fragrant Especial tequila in this sangria. Its flavours blend in well with the fruits used and the nature of the tequila (agave, and other fruity notes) also lending themselves to the sangria’s overall taste.

Top Tip: Try to match the fruit to both the wine and the tequila. Look online (or on the bottle) for the fruity notes of both and try to use those fruits (as well as the basic citrus and orchard fruits).

Recipe 1: Reposado Royale

750ml Artesano De Argento Pinot Grigio

500ml El Jimador Reposado Tequila

½ cup Muscovado Sugar

500ml orange juice

500ml pineapple juice

250ml mango juice

250ml guava juice

Top up: Mateus Sparkling Rose

Orange, lemon, lime slices

Pineapple slices/chunks

Mango chunks

Blending exotic tropical flavours from the Argentinian Pinot Grigio blend well with the El Jimador Reposado and are topped off nicely with the creamy Mateus Rose’s apricot & strawberry flavours.

Top tip: Just because main flavours are tropical, don’t be afraid of using the creamier, softer berried flavours the rose wine supplied. It adds an extra layer, and greater depth in flavour to the sangria.

* Artesano De Argento Pinot Grigio 75Cl (750ml) £7.99 from www.Tesco.com.

**El Jimador Reposado 70Cl (700ml) £19.99 from www.sainsburys.co.uk (or almost any store).

***Mateus Sparkling Rose 75Cl (750ml) £8.29 from www.morrisonscellar.com.

Image
So topping your sangria off with sparkling rose adds a little class, not to mention a great taste!

Final Recipe – Silver Key Sauvignon Blanc:

750ml Sauvignon Blanc*

500ml Sierra Silver Tequila**

250ml Triple Sec***

½ cup Muscovado Sugar

500ml Orange Juice

500ml Grapefruit Juice

250ml Cranberry & Raspberry Juice

150ml Passoa (optional)

150ml Grenadine Syrup****

Top up: Any clear soda you like.

Lime, Lemon, Orange slices.

Soft berries: Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Apricots, Peaches, Greengages as well as a selection of citrus fruits (mandarin’s, satsuma’s and clementine’s work particularly well).

*Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 75cl (750ml) £9.29 from www.sainsburys.co.uk

**Sierra Silver Tequila 50cl (500ml) £15.49 from www.sainsburys.co.uk

***Any triple sec you can find will suffice, I think for this De Kuyper/Bols work perfectly fine. Don’t waste your Cointreau on something like this!

****Try to be a little experimental with your choice of syrup. Grenadine works fine if you cannot get anything else, but try exotic flavours like Hibiscus & Kiwi (among others), check out this website for the hibiscus syrup: http://www.creamsupplies.co.uk/rosella-wild-hibiscus-syrup-300ml/prod_5491.html?category=

Image
Citrus fruit make the sangria. But always feel free to brighten this picture up with some ideas of your own…

So that concludes the recipes… Now for some top tips:

1)      Feel free to experiment, that’s how half of these recipes came about after all!

2)      The use of fruit is essential, but it must be to you, and your guests’ tastes. If someone is allergic to Banana’s then don’t use them. (I know this one is a no-brainer but it happens!).

3)      When making Mexican sangria remember: Tequila is king. Always use top quality tequila.

4)      While tequila is king, you need fruity flavours. To accomplish this, use fruit liqueurs – don’t be afraid to add small amounts in. Stick to a 1-5 rule (for every 500ml of tequila use 100-150ml of the fruit liqueur).

5)      Read the labels. Read the wine and tequila labels to work out what fruit to use in the mix. Also – always use the freshest fruit.

In summary I suppose I just want to say that the idea behind this post is that if you have the ingredients for great Mexican sangria’s (like those above) then fantastic – enjoy yourself, but for those that don’t; make sure you have the wine and tequila’s available and just use whatever else you can afford/have at hand!

Please feel free to leave comments as to what you thought of these recipes, or even just general feedback! I am enjoying some tequila nights here at home this week, so I’ll have some more Mexican themed posts on their way to you soon! Thanks for reading and keep a weather eye out!

Oh, and please remember to drink responsibly!

3 Course cocktails: Cinco de Mayo Especial

So today is Cinco de Mayo, as my other post quite proudly announced, and this means tequila and corona should be the order of the day. Corona & Lime really does not do it for me, and let’s be honest it’s not really a cocktail (although some people I know would swear the opposite).

So this 3 course cocktail post shall be all about that fantastic Mexican Spirit: Tequila!!!

Let’s get started: My starter is an underrated cocktail, often confused with a tequila shot. I absolutely hate it when people refer to the tequila shot using this cocktails name:

Starter

Tequila Slammer

2 measures Tequila

2 measures Soda Water

Strictly NO ice

Gently pour in the Tequila into a rocks glass. Then pour in the soda water. Cover with a napkin and your hand and then slam on the bar/table (be very careful not to smash the glass!) and drink down.

The best thing about this recipe is that you can use any carbonated drink (so to make it more to your tastes you could use lemonade or 7up). For a very special slammer use Champagne and have a ‘Slammer Royale’ of ‘Golden Slammer’.

Main Course

Paloma Brava

50ml Reposado Tequila

Pinch of salt

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 small orange

Juice of 1 small grapefruit

100ml Grapefruit Soda

Agave nectar to taste

Lime wheel for garnish…

This cocktail takes a bit of preparation, but it is worth the pay-out. Fill a glass mug with ice, add the salt, juices & tequila and stir. Top up with grapefruit soda and add Agave Nectar to your own preferred taste. Use the lime wheel to garnish.

Image
(Picture & recipe obtained fromhttp://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/05/ten-tequila-drinks-we-love-cocktails-margaritas-paloma-recipes.html)

This menu offers two choices for desserts:

A fruity choice and a chocolate-y choice…

Dessert:

Tangerine-Ginger Margarita

4 slices of ginger

4 slices of tangerine

50ml Silver (Blanco) Tequila

25ml Agave Nectar

25ml Fresh Lime Juice

50ml Pomegranate juice

This recipe does take a lot of preparation, but like the main course it is worth the pay-out.

Muddle the ginger, then add the tangerine and muddle again. Add in the rest of the ingredients and shake well for 15-20 seconds. Serve straight where required but to serve frappe; just strain over crushed ice in a cocktail glass. Garnish with some pomegranate seeds.

Chilli & Chocolate Margarita (serves 4)

½ cup chocolate syrup

1 cup silver (Blanco) tequila

½ cup Mozart chocolate liqueur

1/3 cup double cream

1/3 orange liqueur/triple sec

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Garnish:

1 tablespoon shaved Mexican dark chocolate

Chocolate syrup

1 teaspoon diced chilli

Combine all the ingredients (except the chilli) in a pitcher and shake up the mixture in two batches. Before pouring, rim the glasses with chocolate syrup and shaved Mexican dark chocolate.

Pour In the mixture and garnish with a chocolate covered whole red/green chilli.

Also sprinkle on some of the diced chilli (opposite to the colour of the whole chilli).

Seeing as it is Cinco de Mayo and this is a Cinco de Mayo special, this post would not be complete without the classic Mexican spirit sampling board… My local Mexican Bar & Grill (chiquito) offers a selection of tequila’s for a fairly reasonable price but I have something a little different to suggest. It will be expensive sure, but if you split it between a few of your friends then this could fast become a very reasonable way of testing out some great tequila’s…

The Fervent Shaker Tequila Sampling Selection:

A collection of 5 of the finest tequila’s available on the UK market…

Tequila no.1: Cazadores Reposado

Image 

A 100% Blue Agave ‘rested’ tequila, with a very deep aroma; it is rather pricey but worth the cost.

Fun fact: “The fermentation process takes 2-3 times longer than most producers because no sugars or yeast is added.”

http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=4724

Tequila no.2: Gran Centenario Reposado

 Image

A rather unknown, but none-the-less fantastic tequila worth your time!

Fun Fact: “The Tequila is rested in never before used French limousine oak barrels for optimum flavour…”

http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=1049

Tequila no.3: Sauza Hornito’s Reposado

 Image

With a whole host of flavours ranging from Apples & Peaches to Salt & pepper, this tequila is one you just have to try!

Fun Fact: ”This unique Reposado has reduced contact with wood, giving it a paler colour and livelier agave taste than other Reposado tequila’s…”

http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=860

Tequila no.4: Jose Cuervo 1800 Silver

 Image

This is the only Silver tequila on my list and it is arguably one of the best silver tequila’s ever made. With a delicate and smooth flavour and an aroma that includes agave, floral notes and a slight fruitiness; this tequila sure does pack a punch. Perfect with a slice of orange and a splash of cinnamon!

Fun Fact: “This is the world’s only super-premium, 100% Blue Agave silver Tequila.”

http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=5078

 

Tequila no.5: Don Alvaro Anejo

 Image

This is arguable the best tequila on this list, and is aged for a minimum of 5 years in oak barrels. Sporting a rich golden colour and giving off hints of caramel, chocolate and agave this tequila is not out of its depth weighing in among the elite!

Fun Fact: “This Tequila is certified Organic, giving it that little bit of extra ‘good karma’ for the seasoned tequila drinker…”

http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=6670

These tequilas are what I consider some of the best ‘under £40’ tequila’s available! Whilst they are expensive and to buy every bottle on this list would set you back near on £200, they are fantastic and split the difference between you and your friends and they become reasonably priced. Try all of them with a selection of citrus fruits, soft fruits (like peaches and apples), cinnamon, pineapple and (if you’re one for danger) try a variety of chilli peppers too! All these additions help bring out the tequila’s flavours and help you enjoy them more!

A list for all them can be found here on the drinkshop.com:

http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/productlist.php?catid=78

If you find that even these are a little out of your prices range, why not just pop along to your local supermarket/spirit wholesalers and just grab a bottle or two of anything you like the look of? When sampling remember: Use citrus or soft fruits as well as cinnamon/chilli depending on your tastes, as this helps bring out the flavours of the tequila. Also remember that Anejo or Reposado (rested/aged) – basically any ‘gold’ – tequila’s will pack more flavour than silver, but silver tequila’s do tend to mix better and are generally smoother…

I hope you like this slightly longer ‘especial’ 3 course cocktail blog, but please remember to drink responsibly!

TODAY IS CINCO DE MAYO!!!

Image

But it’s not all fun and games both sides of the border…

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican themed festive day celebrated more in the USA than it is in Mexico. Mexico generally does not celebrate Cinco de Mayo (with the exception of Puebla which celebrates the festive day fantastically) and contrary to popular American belief it is NOT the Mexican Independence Day.

Cinco de Mayo (literally translated as May 5th in English) is a commemoration to the Mexican victory against the French back in 1862. This was an unlikely victory as the French outnumbered and outgunned the Mexicans 2-1. Yet the Mexicans still went on to beat the French in the town of Puebla.

Naturally Cinco de Mayo is a pretty big deal in Puebla but it is also a popular celebration north of the border in quite a few of the US states. The previous Mexican territory states of Texas & California hold some of the biggest Cinco de Mayo events in the US, not to mention events celebrated in Denver, New York and Portland, as well as in Mexican restaurants across the world.

The best thing about Cinco de Mayo is the relative carefree attitude towards the celebrations; with parades, fairs, mariachi bands, Mexican food and the joy of all things alcohol (of course), including Tequila & Corona (among others).

Now you are brushed up on the idea of Cinco de Mayo, here are some of my cocktail tips and some places to head out to over the next week or so…

Cocktails:

It’s all about Tequila at this event, sure you can find cocktails without tequila in, but to enjoy Cinco de Mayo in classic Mexican fashion you need that famous Mexican spirit: Tequila.

Whether you prefer silver, reposado or Anejo, there is a style of tequila for everyone… An important thing to remember though is that Tequila is NOT a mescal. It used to be a type of mescal but in recent years it has been awarded a form of ‘unique spirit’ award allowing tequila to be respected as a spirit in its own right (not to mention only allowed to be made in certain parts of Mexico – think back to my champagne post explaining this type of regional ‘patent’).

There are obvious choices of cocktail to try; like various flavours of ‘margarita’, or the fruity ‘Paloma’ as well as the very raw ‘Tequila Slammer’ (not to be confused with a ‘tequila shot’ – salt & lemon).

Recipes:

Classic Margarita recipe

0.75 parts – Fresh Lime Juice

1 part – Triple Sec*

1.5 parts – Good quality Silver (or Blanco) Tequila**

Shake the ingredients over ice and double strain into a fancy cocktail glass. For an ‘iced’ margarita serve in a glass filled with a heap of finely crushed ice.

Image
A classic Margarita cocktail.

* Don’t use Cointreau in this recipe as it distorts the clarity of the finished drink. Use a high quality clear triple sec (check out Marie Brizard or Bols/De Kuyper). If you insist on having a ‘dirty’ margarita then I recommend ‘Agave Sec’ instead of Cointreau – you have to stay Mexican after all!

** Silver (or Blanco) tequila is better for this sort of cocktail, brands such as Jose cuervo & sierra are great tequilas to use.

Link for clear triple sec:

http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/productlist.php?text=triple+sec

Link for ‘Agave Sec’…

http://www.thedrinkshop.com/products/nlpdetail.php?prodid=6320

There are more flavoured recipes for the margarita than I can count using a calculator not to mention actually list on this blog, so follow the link below for a great selection of flavoured margarita recipes:

http://mixthatdrink.com/49-margarita-recipes/

Keep an eye out for some more great Cinco de Mayo posts today… their on their way!

P.S. Here’s a link for a great Cinco de Mayo post by a talented blogger:

http://behindthebooze.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/cinco-de-mayo-celebrating-mexican-heritage-and-welching-the-french/

Dinner at a Mexican. Drinks there too!

So themed restaurants… What’s the deal?

Well sometimes I like a change. A change is good right?

This post is all about the ‘outing’ for my 26th birthday. I’ve always wanted to go to Chiquitos and try their cocktails, and as I rarely get to treat myself to a meal out; I felt it was the right time for a Mexican.

First let’s talk about the food, it’s unusual for me to discuss food on this blog I know, but for the sake of this post please allow it…

“Southern Fried Chicken breast and BBQ Pulled Pork”

…with skin on fries, onion rings and coleslaw.

This one of many choices from their Tex-Mex menu, it wasn’t too spicy but had just enough kick to let you know it had something about it. Pretty much everyone in our group had pulled pork of some variation on their plate so we definitely worked them hard on this dish.

A classic Mexican dish, like those you can expect to be served at Chiquito's
A classic Mexican dish, like those you can expect to be served at Chiquito’s

It was a great tasting meal. One which, when compared to other similar restaurants (such as Frankie & Benny’s) was far superior in every way. The member of staff we had was friendly and happy to help however he could, as well as suggesting the best way for us to order so as to save a little more money. So to summarise: Fantastic food, fantastic service and overall a fantastic day out.

Chiquito - A fantastically themed Mexican Restaurant & Bar.
Chiquito – A fantastically themed Mexican Restaurant & Bar.

So now let us move on to important section: the cocktails…

The first thing I do in places like this, is pick up the drinks menu and flip straight to the cocktail section. No, not because I’m set to get hammered, but I in fact like to have a brows and see what cocktails they have from a professional point of view. You can really tell a lot about the companies stance on cocktails from their menu: If it’s just classic cocktails like the Margarita and sea breeze then you know they don’t really care as much as they should (you’ll also find their beer/wine selection is rather large too). However if they have some themed cocktails and even a nice selection of the relevant themed spirit (in this case it’s a Mexican restaurant so Tequila would be the spirit of choice) then you know they have thought a lot about what they can offer and what cocktails are within the theme. Unsurprisingly I prefer the latter when I check out a restaurant.

If I go to an General American (U.S.A.) themed bar, id assume bourbon/vodka drinks would be the specific spirit, likewise I went to an Italian restaurant I’d like to see some Amaretto, Limoncello, Grappa & other aperitif’s on the menu. It’s a simple case of fitting the specific spirits to the theme, something a lot of restaurants do not tend to do (I find Frankie & Benny’s are guilty of this among others).

Chiquito’s have a very extensive collection of ‘themed’ and ‘neutral’ cocktails, as well as having different sections for vodka, rum and, of course, several pages dedicated to tequila (including the very nice touch of offering a cheeseboard style selection of their ‘premium’ tequilas).

Even with all the choice on offer (around 14 pages give or take), from great sounding cocktails like: “The June Bug” and the refreshingly sounding “Key West Cooler”. Yet it was surprisingly easy to pick the first cocktail the “Dark ‘N Stormy”.

Now in my true ‘Rum bandit’ form, I went straight to the Rum section of the menu. This was met with what can only be called ‘fate’. At the top of the list, was a pretty looking recipe going by the name of “Dark ‘N Stormy”.

Now I’ve been making these at my home with real (freshly squeezed) lime juice, fiery ginger beer and a whole host of sugar syrups/cordials for flavour tweaks (my favourite recipe is below)…

My Favoured Home-Made Dark ‘N Stormy Recipe

2 measure Kraken Black Spiced Rum

1 measure Elderflower cordial

½ measure lime juice

Top up Sainsbury’s Fiery Ginger beer

Build this drink in the order given, over ice in a tall Collins glass. Top up with the ginger beer and stir before serving with 2 straws and a lime wedge for garnish.

So naturally I felt impelled to try this first. I see from the menu that they make it with proper Bermudan Rum, Goslings Black Seal Rum – no less, and mixed in with Goslings Ginger Beer.

Now that’s all well and good (COCKTAIL SNOB ALERT), but the picture shows it also having a lime wedge floated on top (in an attractive jam jar glass as well) but there is NO mention of the Falernum that should ideally be involved (although in almost all cases simple sugar syrup would be used – although they make no mention of this either)…

Note: Sugar Syrup/Falernum (slightly alcoholic Bermudan sugar syrup), are in fact optional ingredients and as such did not affect the review at the end of this post…

As far as I could see their typical recipe is as follows:

Chiquito’s Dark ‘N Stormy

1 measure Goslings Black Seal Rum

Top up Goslings Ginger Beer

Wedge of lime to garnish.

Now this recipe is basic, at best. Taking into consideration the prices and the fact that the drinks come secondary to the food; the drink is pretty good. Simple and effective, it’s not going to win awards, but what they lack in detail they make up for by serving it in the pretty jam jar glasses.

Although technically speaking the above recipe is the classic Dark ‘N Stormy recipe, the drink I was given contained no lime, in fact the first one had a lemon slice instead. Whilst it may only look like a superficial mistake, the taste the lemon (or worse yet a lack of lime) gave to the drink skewed the flavour slightly. It is a shame as they are one of the very few places licensed to sell Goslings in the UK. The only thing I will say in their defence is that it was first thing on Easter Sunday that we had this meal. And as such, I shall return next week to see if the lime improves the flavour from the drink I had (in which case I shall publish a re-review of the cocktail).

Next up: Mai Tai.

Now this cocktail is rather famous as rum based exotic cocktails go. Bought for me by my friends (after several ‘this is the one I will have next’ comments) this drink was slightly longer and fruitier than expected. Also it’s worth noting that there was a flavour I could not quite put my finger on, and it kind of ruined the drink if I’m honest. All in all it came down to the drink having too many flavours and nothing to tie them altogether (like some fresh lime juice for example).

Compare these two very different recipes:

Classic Mai Tai recipe:

1 measure White Rum

1 measure Golden Rum

1 measure Dark Rum

½ measure Lime Juice

½ measure Orgeat Syrup

½ measure Orange Curacao

Top Tip: this is the most universally accepted ‘Trader Vic’ style Mai Tai.

Chiquito’s Mai Tai recipe:

Bacardi Rum

Triple Sec

Apricot Liqueur

Pineapple Juice

Grenadine Syrup

Note: I couldn’t gauge the amount of each ingredient used in the Chiquito recipe, although I assume it was similar measurements to the classic (with some fruit juice to lengthen the drink).

The thing with the Mai Tai is that back during the day, the recipe was kept secret. This mean recipes had to be made by taste, and well, let’s just say sometimes you’ll get Pineapple juice, but most of the time (rightly so) you wouldn’t.

The problem I have here is that the drink was slightly too sweet, and there was nothing holding all the flavours together. If you work for Chiquito’s then take note: take out the pineapple juice and maybe try something like cranberry juice, although it would be further from a Mai Tai, it would taste ten times better (especially when you add in the lime juice). I suppose the thing with ‘tiki’ style drinks like these is that tropical juices have the ability of lengthening the drink, without taking away from its exotic taste, which is obviously what they’ve gone for.

I believe that is what Chiquito’s have done with their version, made it both economically viable as well as easier on the alcohol so it is more popular among those not use to it (people who will try it when eating there – as opposed to off the street drinkers).

Next up: the Alabama Slammer

This cocktail is vodka based but still slightly fruity. I thought this to be a pretty good end to the trials, as it was rather exotic but also had a slightly deep south feel.

Chiquitos Alabama Slammer recipe:

Eristoff Vodka

Southern Comfort

Disaronno Amaretto

Orange Juice

Grenadine Syrup

Note: Again I couldn’t gauge how much of each ingredient was used, but I’d imagine it was 2 Vodka, 1 SoCo, ½ Amaretto, 2 OJ and ½ Grenadine… although that’s just an educated guess…

Now for the hard part… Let me explain: As with most cocktails, especially ones not commonly known, the difference in recipes can be endless. Most of these recipes use the same ingredients, but in different amounts, whilst some use completely different ingredients altogether…

The most consistent recipe I could find actually included Sloe Gin:

A classic Alabama Slammer cocktail recipe could be:

1 measure Southern Comfort

1 measure Vodka

1 measure Amaretto

1 measure Sloe Gin

2 measures Orange Juice

Dash Grenadine

Top Tip: the vodka and SoCo measures in this drink are interchangeable. If you prefer more SoCo then balance the alcohol more to your tastes, just make sure it still works out to the same measure amounts, i.e. 1.5 measures SoCo – ½ measure vodka).

Note: For any of you out there thinking “that sure looks a little like a Long Island Iced-Tea” you’re kind of right as some people do in fact call it the Long Island Iced Tea of the south…

Chiquito’s Mexican Bar & Grill; a summary of the day…

So Chiquito’s is a well-known bar/restaurant chain over here in the UK, arguably not as popular as Frankie & Benny’s (although they are both owned by the same parent company!). My personal preference (along with most of my friends’) is Chiquito’s. This is not just because of their superior menus (both food and drink menus are much more thought out) and food quality, but also the quality of their staff. The members of staff in Chiquito’s always seem like they enjoy working there, which I always find is better for morale in any business (and its customers). You also get a sense of knowledge from most of their staff.

In regards to the food served this time around, there was not a complaint to be found. The cocktails were good quality for the establishment in which they were served. Let’s face it; you don’t go to restaurants like this and expect the best cocktails in the world, but you still expect quality. And they were good enough for the quality you’d expect.

Whilst not necessarily all the classic recipes, they have added their own flavours and given them a tex-mex vibe. This makes the drinks a little longer, and arguably easier to drink with the meals, but they make up for this by having a large variety of cocktails using different spirits.

The Tequila: How Mexican do you want to go?

Tequila is by all accounts the most common spirit associated with Mexico. And as a Mexican themed restaurant, you’d assume that chiquito’s would have some variety in the tequila they serve. This is something they have not overlooked. When walking into the bar area and looking across the copious amount of bottles on display you’ll notice the big names; Jack Daniels, Eristoff Vodka, Goslings Black Seal Rum. But look closer and you’ll also see a rather extensive collection of Tequila’s. These brands are listed here (please forgive me for any missed, I didn’t have time to write all of them out):

Jose Cuervo Especial,

Jose Cuervo Clasico,

Gran Centenario Reposado,

Cazadores Anejo,

Patron XO Café,

Don Alvaro.

Tequila’s ranging from the brand leading ‘Jose Cuervo’ to the Ultra-Premium brand ‘Patron’ as well as a taster selection: choose 4 of their tequila’s to try with various complimenting flavours (citrus fruits & cinnamon).

Picture taken from www.Chiquito.co.uk: an example of a tequila samaple board.
Picture taken from http://www.Chiquito.co.uk: an example of a tequila sampling board.
I find this a perfect way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

Now for the cocktail reviews: This is a new feature and I’ve tried to be critical, but in a fair manner.

Dark ‘N Stormy

Recipe:

1 measure Goslings Black Seal Rum

Top up Goslings Ginger Beer

Wedge of lime to garnish.

 

Price: £5.50

Presentation      6.5/10

Ingredients         5/10

Taste                     5/10

Overall                 5.5/10

Mai Tai

Recipe:

Bacardi Rum

Triple Sec

Apricot Liqueur

Pineapple Juice

Grenadine Syrup

 

Price: £5.50

Presentation      3/10

Ingredients         7/10

Taste                     5/10

Overall                 5/10

Alabama Slammer

Recipe:

Eristoff Vodka

Southern Comfort

Disaronno Amaretto

Orange Juice

Grenadine Syrup

Price: £5.50

Presentation      5/10

Ingredients         8/10

Taste                     7/10

Overall                 6.7/10

These scores were given from a critical point of view. Although personally the Dark ‘N Stormy was my personal favourite, it was, overall, the bottom rated of the three. The Alabama Slammer benefitted from a nice garnish (the stemmed cherry added a little class to an otherwise dull drink).

The differences between the Alabama Slammer and Mai Tai were minimal, except for a slightly different taste (which you’d expect seeing as one is a rum based cocktail, the other a vodka one) but not enough to tell the drinks apart. This would not be a big issue if it were not for the fact that the drinks looked exactly the same! Minus the cherry of course!

A Sonoran Iced-Tea Please… A Taste Of Mexico In Your Glass!

Image
A classic Mexican mix, but with a little electric twist…

At the party ‘south of the border’ (https://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/the-songwriters-shindig-south-of-the-border/) I was tasked with concocting a drink at very short notice. Now given choice of alcohol was restricted to the party’s specific Mexican theme. I wanted to create something with a Mexican feel, but, at the same time, offered something a little different. So I tried mixing the coffee with cranberry. The combination of just those two flavours would have been too dry, but by adding the amaretto the drink has the sugar to balance the cranberry and coffee as well as that extra layer of flavour (with the almond).

Overall the drink balances out well, and is both crisp and refreshing in equal parts.

People would have you think that the cocktails we now call ‘classic-cocktails’ were well researched, highly thought out masterpieces. Whilst in some cases that’s true (and in my opinion they are all pretty much masterpieces) for the most part, they are a result of pure experimental work. And this is exactly how this one came about.

Image
A lovely refreshing cocktail. Give it a try and drop me a comment or two…

Im not saying this is a classic cocktail, im not that big headed, but it does have something a little different about it, something that I feel most classic cocktails have. In all my years drinking cocktails (I’ve had more than my fair share) I’ve never had a cocktail that tasted quite like this… The Sonoran Iced-Tea is a carefully layered cocktail that hits you in stages of flavour. First you smell the coffee liqueur, then you get hit with the fresh fruity flavours and the dryness of the cranberry. Finally you finish with the Tequila and Coffee liqueur. The main thing about this drink is that it makes you think. It looks like a normal summer evening drink, and it is, but it has a hidden flavour surprise and that’s what I strive for.  Give them a try and let me know what your thoughts are. It was very well received at the event, but always I look for feedback where possible!

The more perceptive of you, will notice that the recipe I included in the Mexican Party post did not include the tequila… This is because since then i’ve had time to refine the cocktail to help balance, as well as add to, the layers of flavour…

Sonoran Iced Tea

2 measures Coffee Liqueur

2 measures Amaretto

1 Splash (1 teaspoon) of silver tequila

½ measure Lime Juice

Top up with Cranberry Juice

Shake  the first free ingredients well (until the shaker ices up), then top up with the cranberry juice. Serve in a highball glass filled with ice.

Tequila Highball – a taste of Mexico, with a Caribbean twist…

Image
Combining Tequila with Grapefruit juice whilst not new, when combined like this, it makes for a great recipe…

This recipe takes its inspiration from the Anejo Highball recipe (albeit purely inspiration).

The Anejo Highball (as previously posted) is as follows:

1.5 measures Anejo Rum

½ measure fresh lime juice

½ measure dry curacao/triple sec liqueur

2-4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Top up with Ginger Beer

Lime/orange wheel slices to garnish.

The Tequila Highball recipe is, however, slightly different;

1.5 measures Gold Tequila (preferably Anejo, but Reposado will do)

 ½ measure fresh lime juice

½ measure dry curacao/triple sec liqueur

1.5 measures Pink Grapefruit Juice

1 measure Peach Schnapps

Top up with Grapefruit Soda

As you can see this is very much a Mexican themed drink, but coming from a Caribbean train of thought. Using the lime for the same reasons the rum version does, to help cut through the taste of the alcohol but using the Grapefruit juice to help blend the otherwise Margarita style concoction with the Peach Schnapps. And topping up with grapefruit soda purely lightens the up the drink (without losing the flavours).

Image
Tequila can mix well with almost all sweet fruits… As long as its mixed well… Don’t be afraid to experiment

This is very similar to the thought process I went through for the Mexican themed party (see my previous blog: https://theferventshaker.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/the-songwriters-shindig-south-of-the-border/) and the use of grapefruit soda along with grapefruit juice blends in well with the Mexican theme of this drink.

A side note; the Schnapps in this particular recipe, for all intents and purposes, is Peach flavoured, but you can substitute your favourite flavour if you do not like peach.