Drinking Made Easy
Tequila To Kill Ya

Tequila To Kill Ya

October 12, 2011 7

Sure, tequila shots are great and margaritas can’t be beat – but seriously, once you’ve had a Tequila Sunrise, is that all there is when it comes to tequila-based cocktails?

Recently, I took a class called “The Cocktails That Made Tequila Famous” with mixologist Elayne Duke at The Astor Center of New York City and happily, I can report that the answer to that question is a resounding “HELL NO!”.

Upon entering the class, we were greeted with our first cocktail of the evening, The Sangrita — 2 oz. Jose Cuervo Reserva Platino with Served with a 2 oz. shot of fresh sangrita mix, which is made as follows:

  • ¾ cup tomato juice
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon of onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, chill in the fridge before serving.

In the course of introducing us to different tequilas and different tequila cocktails, Duke also educated us on the history of tequila.  It turns out that before the Mexicans learned how to make tequila, they accidentally stumbled upon another type of libation derived from the same agave plant that gives us tequila.  Pulque is fermented agave nectar; it was discovered when a lightning bolt split and cooked an agave plant.  The result of the yeast being added to the sugar of course produced a rudimentary drink which contained anywhere from 3-4% alcohol.

The Spanish, with the knowledge of wine making, came to Mexico in the 1500’s and a pot still with the agave to create something that would come to be called vino de mescal.  This, it would turn out, would be the origin of what would become the tequila that we would know today, before its manufacturing process was refined and improved upon over the years.

Next, we made what you might call a “healthy margarita” because it uses agave nectar instead of Triple Sec or Cointreau, both of which have a higher sugar content; the agave nectar, by contrast, has a lower glycemic index, maintaining sweetness while decreasing the actual sugar content.

Tommy Margarita

  • 2 oz. Don Julio Blanco
  • 1 oz. Lime Juice
  • 1 oz. Agave Nectar

Shake it with ice, then strain and serve in an ice-filled rocks glass with a lime wedge as garnish.

Next was perhaps the most refreshing drink of the evening …

La Paloma

  • 2 oz. Don Julio Blanco
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. lime juice
  • 1.5 oz. fresh pink grapefruit juice
  • 3 dashes of grapefruit bitters
  • Top with soda

Combine all ingredients (except the soda) into a cocktail mixing glass, shake with ice, strain into your glass filled with fresh ice; top it off with the club soda.  Serve in a highball glass rimmed with sea salt and garnish with a lime wedge and straw.

Our final cocktail of the evening was still made with Don Julio – but this time, using their reposado, which can be aged anywhere from a couple of months up to a year.

El Diablo

  • 1.5 oz. Don Julio Reposado
  • ½ oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • Ginger Beer
  • Top ½ oz. Crème de Casis

This one is stirred in an ice-filled mixing glass, then served in a highball glass and garnished with a lime wheel.

By the way, just in case you’d like to view the Powerpoint slides that accompanied the evening’s presentation, please be sure to follow this link: Tequila and the Cocktails That Made It Famous

Well, I guess that’s about it for now, Drinking Made Easy fans.  Until next time, please remember the words of the great French philosopher Rene Descartes, who said, “I drink, therefore I am!”


The Virtual Nihilist
New York City, NY



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  1. Lush October 13, 2011 at 4:47 am - Reply

    I’m a big tequila fan & tired these the other night….good stuff :)

  2. Lush October 13, 2011 at 4:49 am - Reply

    I’m a big tequila fan & tried these the other night….good stuff :)

  3. Ryan October 13, 2011 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Where the hell do you get agave nectar from? Other then that I’m making and trying everyone of these drinks!

  4. Ryan October 13, 2011 at 11:31 am - Reply

    P.S. FIRST!!!!!

  5. Lushington October 14, 2011 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Ryan, you can find agave nectar at most grocery stores. The one I see a lot is in a squeeze bottle (like honey). Its really sweet. I include a very small splash of orange juice when I use it just to keep that classic margarita flavor.

  6. Carl October 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    For the Agave Nectar…not sure if you have a Trader Joes near you…maybe even a whole foods, but I’m positive Trader Joes has it.

  7. Virtual Nihilist October 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Lush – Thanks for posting, glad to hear you enjoyed the cocktails!

    Ryan – I don’t know about your area, but I’m able to purchase it fairly easily here in NYC. There are several supermarkets in my neighborhood that carry agave nectar, but the section in which it’s located varies from one to another; therefore, I would suggest trying at least a couple of supermarkets near you first. If they don’t have it, try a health food store instead; agave nectar is carried by quite a few health food stores because it is considered to be a healthier alternative to sugar for use as a sweetener because it has a low glucose index (which makes it great for use by diabetics — some also use it as an alternative to honey).

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