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:
Fresh fruit pieces,
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…
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
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.
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).
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!
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:
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’.
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.
This menu offers two choices for desserts:
A fruity choice and a chocolate-y choice…
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
1 tablespoon shaved Mexican dark chocolate
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
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.”
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.”
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…”
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:
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!
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.
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.
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:
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:
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
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,
Patron XO Café,
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).
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
1 measure Goslings Black Seal Rum
Top up Goslings Ginger Beer
Wedge of lime to garnish.
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!