According to bucketloads of experts, it’s hard to achieve anything in life unless you have a goal. This is probably why, every time a workplace performance review comes around, I am asked to set myself some ‘measurable and achievable’ goals. Apparently, ‘don’t get fired’ is not a good enough goal, despite how hard it can be to achieve, and ‘world domination’ is not achievable, so this year I have set myself a goal of trying to get better acquainted with tequila. It is both measurable and achievable so I’m not sure why my boss was so cross when I submitted it to her but at least I did not get fired (thereby achieving one of my previous goals. If I keep this up I might achieve world domination).
Often sold in comical, sombrero-wearing bottles, tequila has finally shrugged off its ‘one tequila, two tequila, three tequila floor’ reputation and is now where gin was a few years ago: deservedly enjoying a revival. (Thankfully, that revival has also led to it being sold in much better packaging, such as these beautiful bottles by Milagro.) I admit I’m late to the tequila trend but that’s largely because up until now I’ve been busy drinking gin instead. I also admit I know very little about tequila and even less about mezcal (you can read about the differences between them here), and what I’ve learned so far amounts to this:
- Tequila and mezcal are both made from agave plants. By law, tequila can be made only from a specific type of agave: blue agave. Mezcal, however, can be made from any agave. Therefore, all tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila.
- Tequila tends to be lighter than mezcal, which can be as smoky as a Scotch and kinda heavy on the palate. Which means, according to the bartenders at the Everleigh, that if you want to experiment with mezcal-based cocktails you might be better off using half mezcal and half tequila so the end result is not so overpowering. (This is what the Everleigh crew did when I asked, vaguely, for ‘Something with mezcal in it’ during my last visit – which was, of course, strictly for research purposes. How else do you expect me to achieve my goal?!)
- Any goal is more easily achieved with a visit to the Everleigh, aka my spiritual home, especially if that goal is to drink fabulous cocktails, such as the one below, which was inspired by their advice of mixing tequila and mezcal together.
Caster sugar and a wedge of lime, to rim the glass
15ml mandarin vodka/triple sec/Cointreau
15ml freshly squeezed lime juice
30ml freshly squeezed orange juice
10ml sugar syrup
Rub the wedge of lime around the rim of a cocktail glass, then dip it in a plate of caster sugar. Pop the glass into the freezer to chill.
Shake all other ingredients together in a shaker that’s half-full of ice. (Mandarin vodka or triple sec will add a nice high note of citrus to the drink, making it good for summer; Cointrea has a bit more depth and makes for a more interesting drink – and perhaps a bit better suited to cold weather.)
Strain into the glass and enjoy! Or don’t. That depends on whether your goal in life is to enjoy things or not…
A much more mature margarita than the kind you used to get at Mexican family restaurants (shudder). The mezcal’s smokiness comes through nicely, but the citrus balances it out. It’s bright and refreshing, but definitely one to sip and savour, not quaff (unless drunkenness is your goal).
This recipe is loosely based on a Blood Orange Margarita recipe that appears in Shaken: 250 very sexy cocktails (Murdoch Books, 2004).