I like to entertain … like … a lot. The worst part, though, is being forced to be tied to the bar so you can make everyone drinks or to keep it tidy when the one messy friend inevitably spills all the things. (Dammit, Linda.) Say “adios” to playing babysitter to the bar and batch out a cocktail (or three) for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta.
For Cinco de Mayo, the easiest thing to batch out is, of course, margaritas. And (hold on to your sombrero), the US imported 12.3 million cases (yes, M-M-M-M-M-million) of tequila in 2014 … and Texas is apparently one of the top 10 tequila consuming states in the US. So yeah, a drink with tequila is a slam dunk.
This Cinco de Mayo, I’ll be visiting family in Pennsylvania to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. Luckily, on her last visit to Dallas, my mom and I introduced her to margaritas … and she loved them. Needless to say, once I land in the Keystone State, I’ll be swinging by a liquor store to pick up the makings of this remixed margarita just for her.
So, why Sauza? It’s made with 100% blue agave in Jalisco, Mexico the same way it has been made since 1873. The agave is put into production within 48 hours which gives the tequila a crisp flavor.
Perfect Pear Margarita (serves 8)
2 cups Sauza® Signature Blue Silver Tequila
1/2 cup lemon Juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1 cup simple syrup
1 cup pear syrup
Mix all ingredients in an ice-filled pitcher. Serve in margarita glasses garnished with a rosemary sprig and lime wheel. (Ignore the color … because it’s delicious!)
1 cup pear purée
1⁄4 cup Sugar in the Raw
1⁄2 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch grated nutmeg
In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves fully. Reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes. (The syrup will thicken-up slightly.) Strain and store in an airtight container in a refrigerator for up to two weeks.
I was given the chance to participate in this campaign and was sent items from Sauza to promote.
My first thought before even opening this bottle … will this be some magic elixir or will it be evil sugar syrup?
The war to slowly trick up everything simple and good with extra flavors has been won. The traditionalist lost. First, they took our vodka to a chemical flavor factory. Next they added honey to our whiskey. Now, you can browse every single section of a liquor store and find combinations of flavors, chemicals and booze that you could argue God either never intended to exist or that he simply waited to give us the know-how to make apple-flavored everything. Ok, this sounds overly negative – and you’re right, because some of this stuff is really good. It’s just that once you spend a winter in New England burning through flavored whiskey/bourbon praying for snow to melt, you get really skeptical of everything.
So, when I had a chance to review Hornitos Spiced Honey, I was anxious. This is a tequila I really like, and the thought of it turning into a sugar fest with a kick was almost depressing to me. Also, flavored tequila just doesn’t sound right, but I fought through that by saying I used to feel the same way about whiskey. I decided to try it neat, on the rocks, and then in whatever cocktail/mixer felt right after I got the taste and made notes as I went.
When I opened the bottle, the honey scent was strong and the agave smell felt really dialed back. I had my wife (a non-tequila drinker) take a sniff … she told me she still thought it was strong, so maybe it’s a preference thing. I took a sip and was surprised it was close to a good spiced rum than anything else.
The vanilla and spice were well balanced and the tequila taste gradually came through after a few more sips. This was very easy to drink and I could see it easily becoming part of my rotation as a warm up drink for the evening or a shot that wasn’t hard to take down. It gets better as it opens up, but the one thing that quickly became apparent is that it wouldn’t fit my tastes for a traditional tequila recipe since so many of those drinks are traditionally sweet to begin with.
Luckily, I live in New England and its fall, so people are pushing apples everywhere. In Texas terms, think of that week hatch chiles show up or if someone made bluebonnets edible. After some recent success with Makers and cider, I decided to see how the tequila would mix with it. Despite the obvious sweetness, this was a solid nightcap and it left with a list of future ideas (and there are also several recipes on the website focused on mixers like tea and lemonade as well.)
Hornitos Spiced Honey is available almost everywhere with a retail price of $19.99 per 750ml bottle. If you’re looking for a change of pace from your regular tequila and enjoy the flavor of spiced rum and similar spirits, I’d definitely recommend picking up a bottle.
Workin’ Hard 2 parts Hornitos® Plata Tequila
½ part Agave Nectar
1 part Lime Juice
2 parts Coconut Water
3 Dashes Angostura® Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake vigorously and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a lime peel.
Hardly Workin’ 1 ¼ parts Hornitos® Black Barrel® Tequila
¼ part Agave
½ part Lemon Juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake vigorously and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
The Work Horse1 ½ parts Hornitos® Plata Tequila
4 parts Mexican Lager
⅓ part Lime Juice
⅓ part Simple Syrup
1 slice Jalapeño
Muddle jalapeño in a glass with a salted rim, combine remainder of ingredients except Mexican lager in a shaker, shake vigorously, strain over fresh ice and add Mexican lager.
Primo’s is a Dallas institution in it’s own right. It would be harder to find a cheesier enchilada or a frostier happy hour margarita than the familiar offerings at this beloved industry favorite.
In case you missed it, Primo’s closed its doors in 2013 and reopened them again in early 2015 under new ownership. The new owners attempted to update Primo’s tried and true menu, much to the chagrin of many once-loyal fans. It wasn’t working. I have wonderful news for Primo’s loyalists and Tex Mex enthusiasts alike: Primo’s is, once again, under new ownership; and this time, new owners Dirk and Mark Kelcher (of Ron’s Place and now Cedar’s Social) intend to restore Primo’s to its former glory. Primo’s fans can expect to see the majority of the original menu, with a few thoughtful additions that don’t take away from what Primo’s should be.
Some welcomed additions to Primo’s menu include a variety of new specialty cocktails, as well as a collection of aptly dangerous tequila flights. While Primo’s Tex Mex menu is full of old favorites, their re-vamped cocktail menu is creative and playful- in a good way. If you’re feeling indecisive, throw caution to the wind and consider allowing the bartender to craft you an off-menu libation based on your personal preferences. I was lucky enough to sample several off-menu creations, such as the delightfully zippy Basil Jalapeño Margarita and the cleverly crafted Moscow-Rita, prepared with ginger beer in place of triple sec. While all of the specialty cocktails I sampled were interesting and delicious, I would be remiss not to remind everyone how comforting and satisfying Primo’s house marg so happens to be. Not too sweet, not too tart, and nice and smooth; simple and darn near perfect.
I can happily confirm the Kelchers are delivering on their promise to stay true to Primo’s old school Tex Mex roots. The chips are crispy and hot, the salsa spicy, the queso decadently thick and cheesy, and the guac is fresh and chunky. Primo’s beef tacos cause grease to dribble down your chin in the best way possible. Meanwhile, the chicken tacos are quite possibly the ultimate soul-warming comfort food … apart from, of course, the enchiladas. Fajitas are served sizzling, decorated with sexy little char marks that cause one to salivate in anticipation.
Ongoing specials include Margarita Tuesdays, including $3 margs and $7 taco plates, along with Happy Hour Monday-Friday, 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., including $3 domestic drafts, house wines, house margs, and well. $7.99 lunch specials are available Monday-Friday from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Let’s be real for just a second: What even, is the point of ordering a beautiful cocktail if you don’t plan on giving said libation its 15 minutes of fame on social media? My fiancée knows the drill now. (One aspect in which I have him totally trained.) Whenever we order cocktails at a bar or restaurant, he dutifully slides his glass towards me without taking a sip, so I can capture his drink in its pure, unadulterated state prior to his first sip.
Sauza Tequila has picked up on the fact that folks enjoy showing off their beverages; in response, they launched a fun campaign to get tequila fans snapping and posting away on Instagram (and in the blogosphere): the Sauza Pitcher Perfect Picture project!
According to Sauza, margaritas are the most popular cocktail to order in pitcher form; I think we can all agree, there’s just something so dang alluring about an icy pitcher of that limey goodness. (Unless you are Susie, but we won’t go there.) Margaritas also happen to be the most frequently “shared” drink on social media. (I just want to point out, someone gets paid to sit around and figure this stuff out. Where can I sign up for this job?)
Michelle Yam, travel, food and lifestyle photographer, paired up with Sauza to share some tips on the fine art of booztography. This is serious business, y’all.
Natural light goes a long way in lending appeal to cocktail photos, so take full advantage of sunshiny days, whether it’s on a patio or indoors with sun streaming in through the window.
Playing with focus can be a great way to set up an interesting shot. Try playing with the tilt-shift function on the Instagram toolbar in order to blur out surroundings with ease.
Pump up the contrast and saturation to enhance texture and drama in your shot. (pun lightly intended)
Shadow-jockeying is a thing, especially if you are shooting outdoors. Be mindful of where shadows are being cast prior to snapping away.
Play the angles. Glassware can be tricky to photograph from a straight-on view. Sometimes, an aerial shot, or shooting from an angle, results in a much more attractive snap.
The next time you prepare a refreshing pitcher of margaritas at home, here are some tips from Bobby Gleason, master mixologist at Beam Suntory, to get your cover girl ready for her close-up.
Rimmed glasses– or even pitchers- take your photos to the next level. Coarse, kosher salt works best for a salt rim. Try an alternative rim, such as Tjin Spice or smoked salt for added flavor and visual interest.
Kick up the heat and the color with some fresh muddle jalapeño; reserve a slice of red or green pepper for the rim.
Opt for solid or hollow ice cubes as opposed to crushed or shaved ice; it photographs better.
Experiment with fresh herbs for a color accent.
And by all means, don’t forget the requisite wedge or slice of lime!
Preparing a pitcher of margs capable of evoking tequila envy on Insta is only half the battle though, right? Thankfully, Sauza has shared three Pitcher Perfect recipes that are perfectly refreshing for summertime- and they are easy to put together. No blender required!
Sauza Cucumber Chili Rita 2 cups Sauza Cucumber Chili Tequila
1 cup DeKuyper Triple Sec Liqueur
2 cups fresh lemon sour
Juice of 6 whole limes
Slices of limes for garnish (optional)
Add ingredients to an ice-filled pitcher. Add sliced limes and stir. Serves 8
Sauza-Rita 1 can Sauza Signature Blue Reposado Tequila
1 bottle light beer
1 can frozen limeade
1 can water
Pour limeade and beer into pitcher with ice. Fill limeade can with Sauza Blue Reposado and pour into pitcher. Finally, add a can of water. Stir. Serves 9
Sauza Strawberry Margarita 1 ½ cups Sauza Signature Blue Silver Tequila
½ cup DeKuyper Triple Sec Liqueur
1 cup Pucker Strawberry Schnapps
3 cups sour mix
Sliced strawberries (optional)
Add ingredients to an ice-filled pitcher. Add sliced strawberries. Stir. Serves 8
For inspiration, check out some of Instagram’s Pitcher Perfect offerings, by searching for the hashtag, #SauzaPitcherPics.
The best place to be on July 23rd, the day before National Tequila Day, was in the upstairs private room at Mesero by Mico Rodriguez, located on Henderson Avenue. Guests at this private event donated $1,000 per couple to the Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities to attend.
The night started with the Russ Hewitt Trio playing music while Tequila Herradura cocktails and brisket nachos, chicken flautas, and shrimp ceviche were passed to the hungry attendees.
Once the guests were called to be seated, Emmitt Smith was introduced to welcome everyone and speak briefly about his wife’s and his charity and what the evening had in store.
“Thank you guys for supporting Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities,” Smith said, addressing the intimate crowd before the dinner got underway. “The work that we do couldn’t get done without the help and support of people like yourselves. Tonight is an opportunity for everyone here to get to understand and learn about the Herradura culture.”
Smith continued to explain his experience traveling to Guadalajara and learn the entire process of how Herradura makes the tequila, and how “it is one the cleanest tequilas out there, and that makes the taste itself very pure.”
After the introduction, guests were guided through the dinner and tastings by global brand ambassador for Tequila Herradura, Ruben Aceves.
He began the dinner explaining the concept of a tequila dinner. “We are going to have dinner like we do in Mexico–where we drink tequila before dinner, with dinner and after dinner with desert.”
Before the salad course, Jose Cortes, a third-generation Jimador demonstrated the harvest of an agave plant while Aceves explained the process.
Each course consisted of a tequila margarita pairing that included Herradura Tequila–Silver, Reposado, Ultra or Selección Suprema.
As each tequila was presented with its course and Aceves described their qualities and how each was made.
The Cazera Salad was served with the Meserita cocktail, made with Herradura Silver, Cointreau and citrus.
The second course sampled a cheese tomatillo enchilada, pollo brasa with chipotle cheddar grits and the Mico “12” a la Mexicana. The La Dona cocktail (Herredura Reposado, Cointreau and citrus) complemented this course.
The Pastel Cinco Leches was the final delicacy of the evening. It was paired with the El Santo (frozen Micorita made with Herradura Silver, house Sangria and Herradura Ultra). Herradura Ultra is the most recent addition to the Tequila Herradura family. It is an traditional Añejo tequila blended with premium Añejo tequila that creates a very smooth, subtly sweet tequila.
To cap off the evening, guests sampled the Extra Añejo, Selleción Suprema de Herradura, which is Tequila Herredura’s highest quality tequila.
Whether it is warranted or not, very few spirits get the same bad wrap that poor old tequila does. Most of us know exactly why, too. Flashback to college … ahh, the good ole college days. To make a long (and messy) story short, there was usually tequila involved. Unfortunately, my buddies and I didn’t always go for the good stuff … we were drinking the bargain basement stuff like Montezuma and whatever else we could get our hands on (cheaply). Do I even need to go on and say that many a night ended badly? More than once, we learned the hard way that drinking the cheap stuff never was a good idea.
Good thing those days are over.
I was fortunate to be invited to one of Cantina Laredo’s new high-end tequila dinners via Susie. This 4-course dinner was at the Addison location and featured drink pairings that featured Tequila Herradura. Founded in 1870 in Amatitán, Jalisco, the brand has consistently produced high quality tequilas from the beginning. They insist on using traditional methods and 100% agave. The brand controls 30% of the tequila market in Mexico … so they must be doing something right.
There were three glasses of tequila to welcome us at our place settings. (That’s the way to start things off on the right foot!) We took things slow and sipped these over the course of the dinner, as one should with fine tequilas. Our first course was a Sope de Brisket, a delicious and tender beef brisket served in a flaky pie-like crust. The appetizer was accompanied by a Paloma cocktail. This was a simple but refreshing combination of Herradura Blanco tequila and Fresca soda. (OMG how I’ve missed Fresca!)
This was followed by a Mango Salad. While I am not normally a fan of fruit in salads, I actually didn’t mind this. The mango melded well with the dressing and queso fresco, and the jicama added in a nice crunch. It was fresh, light and colorful. The SantiagoCocktail comprised of Herradura Blanco shaken with Midori, grapefruit juice, grenadine and sweet and sour mix. It was enjoyed by others, but it was simply too sweet for my taste.
We had a choice between two main dishes … the Seabass Oscar with Chili de Arbol Sauce was excellent. The fish was perfectly cooked–tender, flaky and not overdone–and the sauce that accompanied it was the perfect mixture of spicy and sweet. This was definitely the better of the two options, but you couldn’t have gone wrong with the filet either. Here we enjoyed a classic Margarita with Herradura’s Reposado Tequila. You can’t beat a margarita made with top-shelf tequila, that’s all I will say… the Dia y Noche Flan was a nice finale to the dinner and was served with an Old 43 Cocktail. The Old 43 is a dangerously delicious mix of Añejo Tequila, Licor 43, Kahlua, half & half and fresh brewed coffee topped with whipped cream and a cherry. An awesome alcoholic, cinnamon-y hot chocolate drink.
I am constantly flailing around with some sort of diet or disproportionately ambitious exercise plan. It’s just an unhappy fact of life. Unfortunately for me, I love food- and BOOZE- as much as the next gal (ok…possibly more than the next gal); an inconvenient truth at best. I hate undoing all of my hard work at the gym with liquid calories (even if they are delicious). In light of my recent introduction to Skinnygirl Vodka, I was excited to learn Skinnygirl has rolled out two new products for our guiltless imbibing pleasure: Skinnygirl Pinot Noir and Skinnygirl Spicy Lime Margarita. I was even more excited when I was informed that I would be receiving a bottle of each, for my sampling pleasure.
First, let’s talk about the Skinnygirl Pinot Noir. I had never tried a “lightened up” vino prior to this occasion, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Skinnygirl’s pinot has the aroma of dark cherries and bursts with cherry flavor to match, along with notes of toasty oak and vanilla. This is a very smooth pinot with a soft, silky mouthfeel. I am not a great drinker of reds, but this one was light enough for me to genuinely enjoy – to the point where I would buy it for myself. Let’s talk calories. (Wait – what? Buzzkill!) Skinnygirl’s Pinot Noir touts 100 calories in a 5oz pour. For comparison’s sake, a “conventional” 5oz glass of pinot noir contains about 125 calories. At first, you may think to yourself, “So, I’m saving 25 calories? Big deal”. But, think about this, friends: A typical bottle of wine contains about five 5oz pours. Multiply those 25 calories/glass you are saving by 5, and it totals: 125 calories. So, think of if this way: if I were to drink the entire bottle of Skinnygirl Pinot Noir (not that…uh…I make a regular habit out of drinking an entire bottle of wine, or anything…), at a savings of 125 calories per bottle, it’s basically like getting a bonus glass of wine for “free”. Suhhh-weet.
I am a huge fan of cocktails with a “kick,” so I was super excited to try the Skinnygirl Spicy Lime Margarita. This is a ready-to-drink product, best served over ice, with a wedge of lime, or even a slice of fresh jalapeno if you’re feeling saucy. Skinnygirl’s Spicy Lime Margarita, made with blue agave silver tequila and triple sec, actually exceeded my expectations. These margs offer a beautiful balance of bright lime flavor, spicy chili, and that familiar tequila bite. This cocktail has an undeniable kick, but it doesn’t come close to approaching overkill. Really, it was just lovely. The margaritas paired perfectly with my little Monday night chips and guacamole fiesta, and my dude-fiancée repeatedly/unabashedly voiced his enthusiasm for his cocktail, “Skinnygirl” label be damned. He assured me that I can buy this one “any time”; I definitely see myself following through accordingly. Skinnygirl Spicy Lime Margaritas contain 100 calories per 5 oz serving. Sugar-laden margarita mixes frequently served at Mexican restaurants can contain in the upwards of 750 calories in one cocktail, so Skinnygirl Margs are basically a steal, calorically speaking! No brainer here, y’all.
Earlier this week, Jose Cuervo held a launch party for their Reserva de la Familia at Javier’s Cigar Room. The evening included neat pours of the delicious tequila, hand rolled cigars, tasty bites and bit of education about this incredibly unique tequila.
From the packing to the bottle to the tequila itself, Jose Cuervo’s Reserva de la Familia is truly a piece of art. Every bottle comes inside of a wooden box with artwork by Enrique Rosas, who was chosen by the Jose Cuervo family. The unique label on the bottle is accentuated with red wax deal with the Jose Cuervo family crest stamped into it. To top it off, the entire packaging is made by hand.
Being a seasoned whiskey drinker, I found very nice rich and mellow flavors of oak, nuts, vanilla and cinnamon which reminded me of a fine scotch or cognac. La Familia is aged three times longer than typical anejos, giving it a complex flavor. I would prefer enjoying it over rocks, but having neat gave us all the true flavors, aromas and visible colors.
I definitely suggest trying a bottle. Both tequila lovers and lovers of darker spirits will find attributes in Jose Cuervo’s Reserva de la Familia that you will fall in love with.
Jose Cuervo’s Reserva de la Familia is bottled at 40% ABV, and is available in the US at the suggested retail price of $125 for 750mL.