Just in time for the long summer holiday weekend, we raise the bar on summer sipping, with three delightful summer drinks. Two feature alcohol, one does not, but of course you could always spike the Lazy Cook’s Pink Punch with your choice of vodka, tequila or Champagne! Cheers! (And I’m probably supposed to add this: Drink Responsibly and only if you’re 21 or over. There, now we’re covered.)
People who know me are aware of my passion for Tequila — the good stuff – the 100% agave variety. Many people have hazy memories of college tequila-shot-swilling raves, but I swear, if you stick to the good stuff, you will NOT have a psychotic, near-hallucinogenic experience that will lead to hang-overs, regrets and an application for the Witness Protection Program.
The Paloma is a very traditional Mexican cocktail, and the way most Mexicans in Mexico enjoy tequila. It’s an awesome alternative to the margarita. The greater Guadalajara area is tequila-central, with the town of Tequila only 30 miles east (home of the Sauza and Jose Cuervo plants), and the town of Arandas is 30 miles west, which is where El Tapatio tequila, known as El Tesoro in the States, is made). Tequila is made only with the juice of Blue Weber Agave plants, which are grown only in this region. In the Guadalajara area, if you and your friends ask for Palomas, they will often bring bottles of Squirt to the table, along with a bottle of tequila and a bowl of lime wedges and cups or glasses of ice and you make your own.
There are three types of tequila: blanco (not aged), reposado (aged) and anejo (extra aged). Aging concentrates the sugars in tequila for a more intense spirit. I usually go with reposado. Anejo is good for sipping over ice on its own. Blanco is the most common choice for margaritas, but reposado bumps up the flavor of a margarita nicely.
I like the Paloma better than a margarita, because it’s refreshing, just sweet enough (and tequila is already very sugary, from the juices of the roasted agave hearts) and doesn’t have that sour bite of the Margarita. Try it for yourself! Salud!
The Raspberry Crazy-Tini
This is actually a riff on the “Lookingglass Martini” made by the fine mixologists at the bar at NoMi in the Park Hyatt Hotel in Chicago, in honor of Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre, which is right across the street (and of which I am an emeritus board member and life-long fan). I spin it with Prosecco instead of Champagne, but both are delish. The Absolut Raspberry lends a nice fruit flavor without too much sweetness, because the Cointreau is pretty sweet. Get your crazy on, and make one – or a whole batch – this weekend!
For each drink:
2 ounces raspberry vodka
1 ounce Cointreau
Shake with ice, strain into a martini glass and top with a splash of Prosecco. Garnish with fresh raspberries.