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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.

 

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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

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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?

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Cocktails O’ Clock: Kiwi Kutee Cocktail

A cute little rum cocktail, with a tropical kick…

A Kiwi Kutee cocktail, not to be confused with this Cute Kiwi Bird…
Picture courtesy of jobryantnz.wordpress.com/

Although you might think ‘Kiwi = New Zealand’ but this cocktail is surprisingly versatile. It is primarily a summer cocktail, yes, but it works so well for those chilly autumn evenings or calm spring days, even on family afternoons during the winter; this cocktail is fantastically versatile and to prove that here are some great examples of themed events you could use it at…

Of course you can use it at Weddings, birthdays and other celebratory events, but more so; the tropical elements in this cocktail allow for the use in any of the following themes:

–          Tropical

–          Beach Party

–          Caribbean

–          Hawaiian

–          Summer

–          Garden Parties

–          BBQ’s

Kiwi Kutee Cocktail Recipe:

(2 measures) 30ml Lime Juice

(3 measures) 45ml light rum

(2 measures) 30ml Pineapple Juice

(6 measures) 90ml Guava Juice

(2 measures) 30g freshly chopped guava

(1 measures) 1 whole kiwi (skinned & diced)

A wonderfully fresh cocktail, that even gives you 2 of your 5 a day… kinda… Picture courtesy of Food Network.

Method:

1)      Blend all the ingredients until smooth.

2)      Pour into a tall glass filled with crushed ice.

3)      Garnish with a Lime & Kiwi wheel.

Top tip: This cocktail is perfect for scaling up to pitcher (punch bowl) sizes… The best way to do this is to use the above recipe but look at 15ml as 1 measure, so use the ‘measures’ above to create your perfect pitcher…

This cocktail is rather light on alcohol, but tastes amazing. The guava gives it a real fruity overtone, blending with the soft rum flavours. The pineapple juice adds a little tang, the Kiwi adds its nicely balanced sweet & sour mix and the lime juice ties it all together.

Really this cocktail is perfect for those chilly summer evenings, but resilient enough for any time of the year. You can make it for your close friends during the Sunday football sessions or for your girls instead of a wine evening… But if you ever want to relive those summer afternoons on the veranda this has to be the cocktail for you…

 

Original Recipe (and the cocktail picture) taken from The Food Network, the Cute Kiwi was borrowed from ‘Chronicles of Illusions

King of Cool: Cocktails and Justin Timberlake…

“Take Back the Night… With a Cuba Libre”

At home I make cocktails all the time, granted I drink a lot of Cuba Libre’s, (hell if I have rum I’ll drink them all day long) but every now and then I push the boat out, buy some Tanqueray, and chill with a classic Gin fizz, but mainly I’ll use my Boston Shaker for something a little more challenging. Now when I do this, it’s like making a meal, I gather all my ingredients; making sure I have all the tools (utensils, shaker glass etc.) ready and the right measuring jiggers for what I need.

Now to really get into the ‘zone’ I like to chuck on some music, whatever I happen to be into at the time. When I want a classic cocktail from the prohibition I go for Jazz, it just sets the mood, but when I’m making something more modern I like to listen to a bit of pop. Mainstream I know but its easy listening and easy to jig along to.

Anyway, to the point, the other day I chucked on Justin Timberlake’s new song ‘Take Back the Night’ and started to test out some cocktails for the Angostura 2014 Global Cocktail Competition. This was one of the more fun sessions I’ve had recently, both distressing from my current job, and also general life. You might say it’s my happy place… Now I’ll listen to anything me, I’m quite partial to a bit of the classic 80’s & 90’s stuff but also quite into artists like Diana Vickers. Something happy, upbeat and fun, that’s the name of the game for me. This is where good old JT comes in to the fray:

JT likes a drink or two... He's also pretty good at music if you hadn't heard...
JT likes a drink or two… He’s also pretty good at music if you hadn’t heard…

I was jigging along to we take back the night, mixing away working out cocktails that worked and those that didn’t (those that were as crisp and refreshing as being hit around the face by a Pimms marinated cucumber, and those that were worse than a martini containing more brine than a walrus’ backside), when I realised I’d come up with something a little special.

What I came up with are 3 very fantastic but equally dangerous cocktails. I have no doubt that I will not be invited to the UK heats, as I’m sure that there are other people better than me, but I live in hope, the hope that I get to go to such an event and have someone professional judge my work. That’s my aim, for professional feedback from someone in the drinks business. The money always helps should I ultimately win it too hehe.

One of these cocktails is a tweaked version of a mule cocktail I published on a recent post; the Mordor Mule (that’s right the New Zealand themed Mule Cocktail).

I won’t be sharing the cocktails just yet as, should I be invited to the heats, I want them to be a surprise (you never know who’ll read the post right folks?)…

What I’m trying to get across is that for me, music and cocktail making work extremely well together. If I enjoy the music, it helps me get lost in the atmosphere I create, letting my creativity run a little looser than usual.  And the magic potion this time: JT’s Take Back the Night

Although my favourite song at the moment is: Diana Vickers: Music to make boys cry

It doesn’t always result in great cocktails every time, but I find it helps me focus in on the ingredients that work better than others. It may not work for you but that’s the point, I find it works for me, so thought I’d share that with you all… Not to mention this funny cocktail related picture 😀

Even the lesser mammals enjoy a cocktail or three...
Even the lesser mammals enjoy a cocktail or three…

Drink well, drink responsibly!

Kicking it like a pro – the World’s best Mule’s!

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The best mules in the world… Oh hang on a minute…

The Moscow Mule arguably one of the most famous mule cocktails ever made. But what you might not know is that there are literally dozens of variations. From Paris to New Zealand and everywhere in between, there is a Mule for everyone…

The idea of a mule is very simple… Top with Ginger Beer/Ale (whichever one you prefer). Of course you need other ingredients but if you take a gander at the recipes below you’ll see that those depend on the theme…

It’s important to keep the ratio’s in these drinks as they are written. Use this conversion: 1 measure = 25ml (UK) or 1oz (USA). This way the balance of the drink remains as it should be and everyone is happy!

Onto the cocktails:

10) Berry Nice

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Fresh berries make for the best Mules. Add a splash of ginger beer and Bob’s your uncle!

Recipe:

2 measures of Raspberry Vodka

¼ measure Chambord (Raspberry Liqueur)

½ measure Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

8 Blackberries

Top up with Ginger Beer/Ale

Method:

1)      Add the vodka and blackberries and muddle well.

2)      Add the Chambord liqueur and lemon juice.

3)      Shake over ice and strain into an ice filled glass.

4)      Top up with Ginger Beer/Ale and garnish with a blackberry and lemon peel skewer.

9) Yule Mule

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A simple yet stunning cocktail that scales up brilliantly if you have a few extra friends round…

Recipe:

2 measures Light (white) Rum

2.5 measures Cranberry Juice

Top up Ginger Beer/Ale

Method:

1)      Build this cocktail in an ice-filled Collins glass.

2)      Garnish with a Lime wedge.

This cocktail is a simple Caribbean style Mule. Made ideally at Christmas, so you can use cranberries when they are in abundance (here in the UK at least) for a fresher crisper drink, this cocktail is perfect for the summer too. Refreshing and crisp this drink is simple yet flavourful. Try experimenting with your favourite aged/dark rums for a deeper taste.

8) Blackberry Mule

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A wonderful infusion of British produce and gorgeous vodka… The Blackberry Mule: Summer, well, summed up…

Recipe:

1.5 measures Vodka

½ measure Crème de Mure (Blackberry Liqueur)

½ measure Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

6-8 fresh blackberries

Top up Ginger Beer/Ale

Method:

1)      Muddle the blackberries with the vodka in a shaker tin.

2)      Then add the crème de mure and lime juice.

3)      Shake well over ice and double strain (to keep out the seeds) into an ice filled Collins glass.

4)      Top up with Ginger beer/ale.

5)      Garnish with 2 plump blackberries.

A great UK summer cocktail, the Blackberry Mule comes to fruition around the same time as the blackberry bushes bless us with their bounties. Fresh blackberries mean a fresher drink. Sure you can shell out for some supermarket blackberries (the ones that have probably gained more air miles that you will in a couple of years) or you could go blackberry picking and gather some for yourself. Over here in the UK berry picking is still a pastime. I even tried my hand at it when I was younger. There are plenty of farmers that take on hands to help (as volunteers mainly – but they do let you keep the odd punnet or two). It’s a fun day out and you get to enjoy your spoils with a nice splash of your favourite spirit.

Oh right, one last thing, this cocktail tastes just as great using any spirit. Try it with some of these if you’d prefer: Tequila, Rum, Gin & Cachaca.

7) The Mordor Mule

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A drifter from Mordor… This mule has a slightly tangy feel as well as a knock-out blow should you disrespect it…

Recipe:

1.5 measures ‘42 Below’ Vodka

½ measure Lime Juice

¼ measure Agave Nectar

1 whole Kiwi (skinned & chopped into chunks)

Top up Ginger Beer/Ale

Method:

1)      In a mixing tin muddle the Kiwi chunks, lime juice and sugar syrup.

2)      Add the vodka and fill with ice.

3)      Shake and strain into an ice filled Collins glass

4)      Top up with ginger beer/ale

5)      Garnish with a Kiwi wheel (leave skin on this one).

This Middle Earth (New Zealand) themed Mule is something a little different. It combines one of the best vodkas in the world (from NZ of course) with a New Zealand Kiwi fruit and then using the ginger beer/ale as a top up. This cocktail, as a result, is extremely refreshing and crisp and great for those summer evenings when you want something a little different.

Again the room for tweaking lies with the fruit. There are several other edible species of Kiwi fruit available that are different to the commercial one we are all accustomed to. If you want to try them, and they’re available in your country, start here; on the Wikipedia site and have a search around.

Oh and not to mention this is one of my very own recipes so please let me know how it goes down!

6) Parisian Mule

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A great Parisian Mule, picture courtesy of the http://cocktailqueens.wordpress.com

Recipe:

2 measures Vodka

1 measure Crème de Cassis

1 measure Lime Juice

Top up Ginger Beer/Ale

Method:

1)      In an ice filled shaker add the vodka, crème de cassis and lime juice.

2)      Shake well and strain into an ice filled Collins glass.

3)      Top up with Ginger Beer/Ale and serve with a lime wedge as garnish.

This is a recipe I’m really proud of, back during the early days of this blog I catered cocktails for a friend of a friend’s birthday party. One of those cocktails was a pitcher sized serving of a Parisian Mule. Now various other mules do exist and probably more appropriately named too. But this cocktail is special to me, and when I think of Crème liqueurs I think of France, of the romance capital of the world: Paris. Now the other recipe I have found for a Parisian Mule contains Cognac, a fine vintage too I might say, and it is a delicious drink. But rather than fill up another spot for a cocktail of the same name, if you follow this link for what I have dubbed the Imperial Parisian Mule you’ll find the original website for it. Whichever taste of Paris you prefer, you will not be disappointed.

5) Moscow Mule

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A classic mule, in a classic Russian Copper Cup

Recipe:

2 measures Vodka

½ measure Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Top up Ginger Beer/Ale

Method:

1)      Build this cocktail in an ice filled mixing glass.

2)      Start with the Vodka, then lime juice and bitters.

3)      Stir well and strain into an ice filled Collins glass.

4)      Top up with your preference of Ginger Beer/Ale.

5)      Garnish with a Lime Wedge and serve with straws.

This classic cocktail is all about the kick. Refreshing and crisp (the lime and ginger pair exceptionally well) it lulls you into a full sense of security, then after about 3 or 4 you try and stand and remember the vodka; It’ll sit you right back down again, I assure you. Perfect for those summer evenings when you just don’t want to get up the next morning. Still they taste great and a couple wouldn’t hurt…Right? Right.

4) Saigon Sling via Bar Blue

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A great Mule variation. It’s balanced well and the lime wedge adds a little tartness to the drink…

Recipe:

45ml Bombay Sapphire Gin

15ml Krupnik Honey Liqueur

30ml Pineapple Juice

2 dashes Peychauds Bitters

Top up Ginger Beer/Ale

Method:

1)      Add the Gin, Honey Liqueur, Pineapple juice and bitters into an ice filled shaker and shake well for about 20-30 seconds.

2)      Strain into an ice filled sling glass (see glass in the picture).

3)      Top up with ginger beer/ale and garnish with a slice of lemon.

This cocktail was first tasted by me when I went to London Bridge’s Bar Blue (on the way to the Cointreau Fizz Garden event). Combining the floral flavours of Bombay Sapphire Gin, and the sweetness of Krupnik Honey Liqueur, this cocktail is a borderline Mule, and therefore a controversial choice, but it is just so good I could not leave it out. It is just a wonderfully refreshing drink everyone needs to try at least once.

3) Anejo Mule

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What your Anejo Mule should look like…

Recipe:

1 measure Light Rum

½ measure Dark Rum

½ measure triple Sec

¼ measure Fresh Lime Juice

2 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Top up Ginger Beer/Ale

Method:

1)      Add all the ingredients (except the ginger beer/ale obviously) and shake well over ice.

2)      Strain into an ice filled Collins glass and top up with Ginger beer/ale.

3)      Garnish with a lime wedge sat on the rim of the glass*.

Now I love all types of rum. Whether it’s the classic white stuff or the darker, aged stuff, it doesn’t bother me as long as it tastes great (which most of them do). Usually I find it hard to choose between light and dark rum, but this drink puts a line through this conundrum with a simple answer: Use both…

*this allows for your friends/customers/drinkers to add a splash more lime juice if they would like.

2) Caribbean Mule

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The best thing about a Mule, is you can dress it up to look like a Circus Zebra, but underneath it all, it’s still a Mule.

Recipe:

1.5 measures Light Rum

½ measure Spiced Dark Rum

½ measure fresh squeezed lime juice

½ measure guava juice

1 measure pineapple juice

3 dashes of angostura bitters

Method:

1)      Combine the first 5 ingredients in an ice filled shaker and shake well.

2)      Strain into an ice filled sling glass and top up with ginger beer/ale.

3)      Garnish with a pineapple wedge and cocktail cherry.

4)      Serve with straws.

Similar to the Anejo Mule, this cocktail adds a little Caribbean flavour to the mixture with some exotic fruit juices. This does lengthen the drink somewhat and water down the rum a little, but it makes it a little more beach specific and refreshing. The ginger beer/ale adds a splash of crispness and heat that is really balanced well with the sweetness of the juices.

Give it a go and close your eyes, you’ll be hearing waves roaring at your feet and feel a tan coming on before you know it…

1) Mexican Mule

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Lots of lime and Tequila, this one is all Mexican 100% baby! (Except the glass – that was made in china)…

Recipe:

2 measures good quality Tequila

¾ measures fresh squeezed lime juice

¼ measure agave nectar

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Top up Ginger Beer/Ale

Method:

1)      Add the tequila, lime juice, agave nectar and bitters into an ice filled shaker and shake well.

2)      Strain into a tall glass filled with crush ice.

3)      Top up with ginger beer/ale and garnish with a lime wedge.

This cocktail is my number one by a country mile. This cocktail takes everything great about the classic Moscow mule and just spins it on its head, in a way only the Mexicans can, with TEQUILA!

Now a couple of months ago it was Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) which celebrates Mexico’s ways in all their glory, although it’s a more United States specific celebration, which means Tequila and all things Mexican are centre stage.

And then there was National Tequila Day (NTD) which was as recent as last week! Again it’s largely an American ‘Holiday’ (I’m starting to notice a theme here, are you?) upon which much more Tequila is consumed (naturally). Now I did a post on the 24th July (NTD) and this was based on the craft Tequila George Clooney has co-financed, along with his life-long buddy Rande Gerber and this is the perfect tequila to use here. If you cannot get a hold of it (I know I can’t) then use the best quality Tequila you can find (that means 100% Agave people!).

This drink, as already stated, turns the classic vodka based version on its head and creates a rather delicious monster. Tequila mixes well with lime, we all know this, but it also mixes fantastically well with Ginger Beer/Ale. So combining the 3 sounds perfect right? Right.

“Never ever mix tequila with lime and ginger beer/ale” – Said no one. Ever.

So mix one of these up, chuck a poncho and a fake moustache on and put the maracas down, Sit back on your hammock and enjoy the sunset – beach, sunset, fake moustache, maracas & poncho not included.

finally enjoy this lovely couple of Mules, can you guess their names? Hint: Even I’m not sure of their names, so good luck…

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A happy Chap…

And the twins here…

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A couple of twins not happy with your lack of a cocktail like beverage already…