Articles in Cocktails

Sagatiba Pura Caipirinha. Credit: Courtesy of Campari America

Americans have always loved rum, but it tends to be pigeonholed as a party drink, the base for daiquiris and Mai Tais but not serious sipping. That’s changing as better rums come out to compete with the mega-brands we know so well, and rhum agricole and cachaça, two other sugarcane-based spirits, get in on the game.

Caliche Rum

Launched in 2012 by bar/lounge mogul Rande Gerber and Roberto Serrallés of Serrallés Distillery in Puerto Rico, Caliche has taken off in a big way, selling 10,000 cases in its first year. Named for limestone found around the distillery, Caliche is a crystal-clear white rum, smooth and slightly sweet in vanilla and caramel, with hints of spice. Unlike most white rums, it’s aged much like a sherry, with four layers of separately aged rums blended into one. Serrallés recommends that Caliche be sipped over ice with a slice of lime or mixed into classic rum cocktails, its age lending more complexity to even a simple mojito or Cali Libre (rum, Coke, cream and lime wedge).

Penny Blue Mauritian Rum

A single-estate, small-batch rum aged in cognac, bourbon and whisky casks, Penny Blue is a new addition to the lineup from Medine Distillery, which also has produced the popular Pink Pigeon rum since 1926. For Pink Pigeon, Medine distills sugarcane and then infuses it with hand-pollinated, handpicked bourbon vanilla from nearby rainforests, later adding orange peel for freshness. Penny Blue is the aged version, named for the world’s rarest stamp — the 1847 “Penny Blue” from Mauritius, which sold for $1.4 million at auction in 1994.

Phraya Rum

The most amazing thing about Phraya — other than the gorgeous gold adorning the bottle — is that it comes from Thailand, not a place usually associated with rum. Phraya alone may change that. It is an exceptional spirit, based on sugarcane from Nakhon Pathom province, in the center of the country. Aged in fired oak barrels for seven to 12 years, the rum is dark and exotically spicy, like Thai cuisine, rich in vanilla, honey and coconut and just right for sipping all night long.

Sagatiba Cachaça

Often called Brazilian rum, cachaça is made from sugarcane juice rather than molasses, using hand-cut sugarcane that is then fermented and distilled without additives, meaning that it’s usually pretty clear. It’s become a hot ticket in the United States, a smooth drink with the kind of herbal and botanical nuances that entice lovers of gin. It can also be aged, two to three years typically, bringing out the spirit’s darker, butternut squash and plantain notes. Aged cachaças are often enjoyed neat or as a chilled shot; the unaged go better in mixed drinks like the classic caipirinha below.

St. George California Agricole Sugarcane Rum

Made entirely from rare California-grown sugarcane, St. George’s agricole rum is akin to a sugarcane wine or eau-de-vie because of the way it is fermented. With a base of fresh sugarcane juice, it’s grassy, earthy and less sweet than rums made from molasses.

Sagatiba Pura Caipirinha

Courtesy of Campari America

Serves 1

Ingredients

Half a fresh lime, cut into wedges

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

2½ ounces Sagatiba Pura or other cachaça

Directions

1. Squeeze and drop lime wedges into a rocks glass.

2. Add sugar and muddle.

3. Add cachaça, fill with ice cubes and stir.

Note

You can get creative and replace lime with any fresh fruit for a unique twist on the classic caipirinha.

Top photo: Sagatiba Pura Caipirinha. Credit: Courtesy of Campari America

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Cucumber Mint Rickey.

Your backyard garden is a treasure trove of inspiration for creative cocktails that don’t take hours of infusing or scouring for obscure ingredients known last to pre-Prohibition times.

Follow the lead of restaurants and bars like the Forty Four bar at the Royalton Hotel in New York, currently featuring a garden-to-glass cocktail menu of fruit, herb and veggie-based drinks.

The Royalton’s drinks include the Down and Dirty Rosie, a mix of rosemary-infused Absolut vodka, spicy pickle brine and sriracha bitters served in a coupe and garnished with a house-pickled cornichon.

To get started you need only a few items — fresh fruit, herbs, limes, a muddler and Cointreau, a fantastic summer alternative to rum or vodka. Cointreau works well as a base spirit for your garden cocktails, as it adds a balanced amount of sweetness and its natural orange flavor is a smooth complement to the fruits and herbs found in your summer garden.

Cointreau cocktail and spirits expert Kyle Ford has many other ideas for what to do with the elixir, including the Cucumber-Mint Rickey featured below.

Cucumber-Mint Rickey

Courtesy of Kyle Ford, Ford Mixology Lab

Serves 1

Ingredients

2 ounces Cointreau

1 ounce fresh lime juice

3 to 4 ounces club soda

4 slices cucumber

5 mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish

Directions

1. Muddle 3 slices of cucumber and the mint  leaves in the bottom of a highball glass.

2. Add the remaining ingredients with ice.

3. Stir briefly.

4. Garnish with a slice of cucumber and mint sprig.

 

Top photo: Cucumber-Mint Rickey. Courtesy of Couintreau

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The World's Best Margarita. Credit: Nancy Zaslavsky

We met more than 20 years ago in a bar in Guadalajara. It didn’t matter that Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city, sitting square in the middle of the state of Jalisco. Or even that the city is famous for charreada, rodeos where powerfully costumed cowboys, or charros, display high-velocity horsemanship for a legion of adoring fans. In the West Central highlands, what matters is pride — pride in the long tradition of the charros, the universal symbol of this place. Pride is was what I remember most about Bo-Bo, that and his magnificent margarita.

Bo-Bo (short for Bonifacio) was a bartender in Tlaquepaque, a section of Guadalajara now considered the sweetheart of interior decorators because of their warehouse-sized shops and overstuffed galleries. But in those earlier days, things were not so precious. On one night, I wandered around El Parián, a festive city block ringed with casual cafes designed for good times and late nights. Looking around, it was difficult to choose where to go; every place was enticing. Laughter and candlelight and brightly colored clothing made each space seem more provocative than the last. The locals found it easy, as they warmed up to the place where family members waited tables or perhaps had visited for generations. I just let the spirit of the night guide me, and I walked through the next doorway I saw.

I could not have guessed from its modest entrance all which would appear before me. The otherwise dimly lit space opened up to an open-air patio, with a large gazebo where a full mariachi band played. Later I would hear that some of the best musicians in the country frequented this spot, and over the years I would raise a glass to many of them as trumpets and voices filled the space.

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World's Best Pomegranate Margarita. Credit: Nancy Zaslavsky

That night, I must have really looked out of place, a wide-eyed gringa, overstimulated with all the sights and sounds, and Bo-Bo extended a hand and a smile. He took me on a tour of El Parián, pointing out the places with the best tacos and bar snacks. He showed me where I could grab a table under shady porticoes and pull up an equipale, the locally made, rustic leather-and-wood barrel chair, and stay for tequila and music. We paused near the gazebo stage to watch the mariachi wail “Guadalajaaaaara” wearing the same traditional outfit as the charros: skin-tight pants and jackets with heavy silver-studded adornments and huge, elaborately detailed sombreros. Here, Bo-Bo told me, “Weekend afternoons have remained unchanged for generations, and nights are forever young.”

As we wandered back to his bar he proudly proclaimed that he served, “the world’s best margarita, hands down.”

Smiling at my proud guide, I said, “OK, prove it.”

And he did.

World’s Best Margarita

Makes 1 drink

Guadalajara is known for tequila. The actual town of Tequila is about an hour to the west, and it is the place where Mexico distills its finest in countless factories. Tequilana Weber blue variety agave plants (Agave tequilana) run up and down kilometers of hillsides in perfect blue-gray waves of neat rows from the lowlands to the nearby mountains. Ancient volcanoes in the distance provide the background where they push against sapphire skies.

Bo-Bo’s perfect storm of spirits is still the recipe I use today. Here is his original formula with my alternate ruby-red suggestions. But first, a few rules of a great margarita:

1. Use only 100% agave tequila because others are mixtos, cheap blends of 49% something else — mostly cane alcohol and/or sugars. My preference is clear (aka silver, blanco, white) because of its clean agave flavor unaltered by aging.

2. Never use a pre-made, artificially flavored and colored, headache-inducing, neon chartreuse “margarita mix.”

3. No slushy blender drinks. Serve “on the rocks” in an old-fashioned glass or “up” shaken with ice and strained into a martini glass.

4. Serve with or without a salted rim, but without is like a kiss where the lips never touch.

Ingredients

1 lime wedge

A few tablespoons slightly coarse sea or kosher salt on a small plate

Ice cubes

1½ parts 100% clear agave tequila

½ part Cointreau

1 part freshly squeezed Mexican (aka Key) limes

Simple syrup or bartender’s super-fine sugar, if needed

Directions

1. Moisten the rim of an old-fashioned glass (or martini glass) with a lime wedge. Dip in the salt to coat the rim.

2. In a small pitcher, mix the tequila, Cointreau and lime juice. Stir and taste; if it’s too sour stir in a little sweetener, but the drink should be sour.

3. Either fill an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes and then pour in the tequila mixture or pour the mixture into a cocktail shaker with crushed ice, shake 10-15 seconds and strain into a martini glass.

Ruby-Red Pomegranate, Cranberry or Jamaica Margarita

Makes 1 drink

Ingredients

Thick slice off lime end

¼ cup slightly coarse sea or kosher salt

Ice cubes

1½ parts 100% clear agave tequila

½ part Cointreau

1 part unsweetened, sour pomegranate juice, cranberry juice or strong-brewed jamaica tea (pronounced ha-MY-ca, dried flowers of the hibiscus family, found in Mexican markets)

Simple syrup or bartender’s super-fine sugar to taste

Directions

1. Moisten the rim of an old-fashioned glass (or martini glass) with a lime wedge. Dip in a dish of salt to coat the rim.

2. In a small pitcher mix the tequila, Cointreau and juice. Stir in sweetener to taste, but keep it sour!

3. Either fill an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes and then pour in the tequila mixture, or pour the mixture into a cocktail shaker with crushed ice, shake 10 to 15 seconds and strain into a martini glass.

Like it hot? Quarter a fresh green jalapeño chile, remove the seeds and then slide it into the drink. Like it smoky? Float 1 tablespoon Del Maguey mezcal on top of the finished drink. !Salud!

Simple Syrup

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Directions

Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Store in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up to one month. Makes about 1½ cups.

Top photo: The World’s Best Margarita. Credit: Nancy Zaslavsky

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Aloha Mary cocktail from Ocean Vodka. Credit: Jessica Pearl

Hawaii has always had a cocktail culture — as evidenced by such drinks like the Mai Tai, Piña Colada and Blue Hawaiian — but one based not as much on quality as on packing a colorful and potent punch.

To many mainlanders, that’s because Hawaii is for them vacationland, a place to enjoy the mildly tropical weather and have drinks served in coconut shells with a tiny umbrella. It’s an image of Hawaii that dates to when Elvis was alive, thin and young.

But just as with food, the attitude toward Hawaiian spirits is slowly beginning to change in the islands. As chefs like Ed Kenney of the restaurant Town in Honolulu have shown, there is a way to please diners by emphasizing locally raised greens and meats rather than the traditional gravy-covered mounds of rice.

And small distillers are starting to make better rums, vodkas and other spirits from local ingredients, accenting a sense of history by reclaiming former sugarcane and pineapple plantations.

Ocean Organic Vodka is one of them, a multigenerational family-run, 80-acre farm and distillery on Maui making vodka out of sugarcane.

Kyle and Diana Smith and their kids Shay and Sye were looking for a way to bring sustainable agriculture to Hawaii and make a non-perishable product. Cocktail aficionados who love to experiment, they settled on vodka, the base of their favorite martinis and more.

To make the vodka, they source seawater that originates 3,000 feet below Hawaii’s Big Island and surfaces near the Kona Coast. High in potassium, calcium and magnesium, the water is then purified and desalinated through reverse osmosis and mixed with fermented sugar cane that they grow.

The result is a crisp, clean-drinking spirit subtle in high-toned citrus notes. Open for tours, Ocean Vodka plans to expand into making rum and whiskeys in the coming years.

Haleakala Distillers is also on Maui, a craft rum distillery run by Jim and Leslie Sargent that makes dark rum, gold rum, 155-proof “Extreme” rum, pineapple-flavored rum and Okolehao. That’s a spirit made from ti root, a Hawaiian herb that Sargent says reminds some people of amaretto, and it goes into a drink called Leilani’s Tsunami, blended with passionfruit, orange, guava and lime juices and Sprite over ice.

A few ‘back’ stories on Hawaiian spirits

Father-son team Maui Distillers produce Old Lahaina Rum in an old sugar mill in the town of Paia. Driven by frustration over the fact that most “Hawaiian” rums were made on the mainland, they were able to source a special molasses from Maui’s Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar, the last operating sugar plantation in Hawaii. Maui Distillers launched in 2004, becoming the first distillery on Maui in 20 years, making dark, silver and gold rums.

Haliimaile Distilling Company is another Maui vodka maker, producing small batches from extra-sweet Maui pineapples, while Maui Brewing founder Garrett Marrero is expanding his brewery in the central part of Maui to soon distill bourbon and spirits based on local breadfruit.

And there’s Kauai, where it is believed Captain James Cook was accompanied by barrels of rum when he first made landfall in 1778. It is the home of Koloa Rum Company, the first and only licensed distillery on the island. Koloa Rum was named for a once-vibrant sugar plantation and mill. Now it is growing its own sugarcane and experimenting with using fresh-pressed cane juice instead of processed sugar. Koloa is devoted to single-batch white, gold, dark and spice rums; its spice rum is rated highly by F. Paul Pacult’s “Spirit Journal” and others. Koloa runs a tasting room and company store from its historic Kilohana Plantation location.

Aloha Mary

Courtesy of Ocean Vodka

Serves 1

Ingredients

2 ounces vodka (for example, Ocean Vodka)

3 ounces tomato juice

½ ounces fresh lemon juice

3 dashes Worcestershire Sauce

2 drops Tabasco

Directions

1. Pour ingredients into shaker over ice.

2. Shake vigorously and pour in a tall glass.

3. Salt and pepper to taste, garnish with fresh vegetables.

Top photo: Aloha Mary. Credit: Jessica Pearl

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Apps

These app reviews will teach you to become a vegan in 21 days or to mix perfect cocktails from sight alone. There’s also a complete guide to garden herbs (perfect for a farmers market) and finally, a tool to identify the hottest peppers. Enjoy!

Eyeball those cocktails

Clinq takes a strikingly different approach to the cocktail recipe. Instead of listing shot measures, Clinq shows you the ratio of ingredients, each represented by a different color. The idea being, whether you’re making one drink or 20, you’ll get the measures right without counting shots. The stunning yet simple visuals add to the app’s appeal. The home page gives you a choice of five different spirits (gin, vodka, whiskey, bourbon and rum) spelled out in stylish black typeface on a white background. Once you touch the screen to make your choice the screen slides to the left, revealing the outlines of four different glass shapes (highball, martini, hurricane and lowball). Choose your glass and you are given a choice of cocktails — there are over 140 listed. Once the color-coded ratio is shown, you can press the screen for a few seconds and the ingredient names are revealed, then hold it again for a few more and the cocktail making procedure is shown. It may take a few times to get used to the controls, but this has to be one the more creative apps around. Happy mixing!

99 cents on iTunes

Help for the Virgin Vegan

Just how does one become a vegan? The first step is probably the most difficult, but if you want to take it, 21-Day Vegan Kickstart might just be the app you need.  Designed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the app provides you with daily food lists and recipes to help you along your vegan route. You are able to see what ingredients you’ll need a week in advance, then each day you are given a plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a snack (one I imagine you will look forward to each day).  Click on the meal and the page flips, providing you with the recipe and nutritional information.  All in all, a very resourceful app that is simple to use and follow. It might just change the way you eat, forever …

Free on on iTunes

How hot is that pepper?

Say you’re cooking up a vindaloo curry or making a salsa, and you want to calibrate the heat that you’ll be bringing. When you’re talking peppers, you need to know one word: Scoville. That’s the name of the scale that measures a pepper’s spiciness.  Every pepper has a Scoville rating, from the slightly sweet bell (0 units) to the burn-your-head-off habanero (100,000 to 350,000 units).  The scale was invented by Wilbur Scoville a century ago — and no, he didn’t assign the heat levels by chomping his way through the world’s chilis. He got other people to do it for him. Scoville the app lists pretty much every pepper in existence, its Scoville rating, and tasting notes or other background information.  The “Jamaican hot,” for example, has flavors of apples, apricots and citrus (under a furnace-like heat on your palate, one presumes) and is mainly used for hot sauces in the Caribbean. In fact, after a quick browse, it seems that everything higher on the scale than the habanero has some sort of health warning and can only be eaten in the tiniest of quantities, with a pint of milk at the ready. One of the hottest peppers, the terrifyingly named Naga Viper, has a Scoville rating of up to 1,382,118 units. It is usually dabbed on food with a toothpick, so as to only use a tiny drop – that is hot to the point of pain!

$1.99 on iTunes

Apps field guide to kitchen herbs

Most of us can tell the difference between rosemary and basil … but to the untrained eye (especially my own), telling lavender from sage can sometimes prove difficult. That’s where Herbs+ fragrantly wafts in. This app would be particularly good for finding fresh herbs in the wild. The entry for each herb offers gardening tips, culinary ideas, medicinal uses and an image to help you identify the herb.

There’s also a handy link to Wikipedia, which you can access without leaving the app.  In the “Herb Garden,” you’ll find basic guidelines for how to launch your garden successfully as well as sections on harvesting, preserving, propagating and winterizing your herbs. There are also useful tips — did you know dill doesn’t grow well if planted near fennel? No, neither did I.  All in all, a very good app to spice up your phone and quite possibly your next dinner too!

$2.99 on iTunes

Top image, clockwise from top left: logos for Clinq, Scoville, Herbs+ and 21-Day Vegan Kickstart.

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Elderflowers bloom in the French Alps for only four to six weeks each spring. Credit: Cooper Spirits International

I first tasted St-Germain in 2010, while attending a wine and spirits trade show in London. There, amid hundreds of booths offering samples of every conceivable alcoholic elixir, a statuesque Belle Epoque bottle caught my attention. Once I tasted the delicate elderflower liqueur inside, I knew I’d stumbled onto something truly different.

St-Germain is made in France, but the idea for the liqueur was born in England. While visiting London on business in 2001, a young American named Robert Cooper tasted a cocktail made with elderflower syrup, and became intrigued by its unique flavor. As it happened, Cooper was in charge of marketing for Chambord, the French raspberry liqueur, which was developed for the U.S. market by his father.

Cooper returned to the States with the idea of creating an elderflower liqueur, but soon found that the process was more challenging than he’d imagined.

“I began vigorously working on the project in 2003, and it was not in marketing until early 2007,” Cooper said. By then he’d left the family spirits business to launch his own operation, Cooper Spirits International. “It was quite difficult to make the macerations from something as volatile as a fresh flower.”

St-Germain is made from the blossoms of wild elderflowers that bloom on the hillsides of the French Alps for just four to six weeks in early spring. Once the flowers have been hand-harvested, the race is on to process the fresh blossoms before they lose their delicate aroma and flavor.

Mixologist Mike Henderson of Denver's Root Down loves the versatility of St-Germain. Credit: Root Down

Mixologist Mike Henderson of Denver’s Root Down loves the versatility of St-Germain. Credit: Root Down

They’re immediately macerated to preserve their freshness, and each day’s macerations are successively combined until the blooming period is over.

“We make the maceration once a year, much like a wine, surrounding the elderflower harvest,” Cooper explained. That means there’s only one chance each year to get it right.

The ‘bartenders’ bacon’

Cooper’s dedication has resulted not only in a wonderfully delicious liqueur, but something of a cocktail revolution.

Each St-Germain bottle has the "vintage" of the elderflowers used to make the liqueur. Credit: Cooper Spirits International

Each St-Germain bottle has the “vintage” of the elderflowers used to make the liqueur. Credit: Cooper Spirits International

In the six short years since its release, St-Germain has become a key player in U.S. artisan cocktail movement.

“St-Germain came on the market when the whole mixology and cocktail scene was really starting to catch fire,” said mixologist Mike Henderson of Root Down, an upscale Denver restaurant known for its creative cocktails.

“I think one of the reasons it’s been so successful is that it’s got a unique ability to go with just about everything,” he said. “It works equally well with vodka, gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, scotch and Champagne. It’s joked about in the cocktail community as being ‘bartenders’ bacon’  – it just makes everything a little bit better.”

Henderson includes St-Germain in three of Root Down’s signature drinks, including the Hummingbird (with Prosecco and sparkling water), the Spanish Estate (with rum, sherry vinegar and bitters) and the Pepper Blossom (with vodka, jalapeño syrup and citrus juices).

The complexity of St-Germain’s flavor, he said, is the secret to its versatility. “When you taste it, you get a lot of notes of lychee, pear and tropical fruit, and there’s some citrus in there,” Henderson said. “Because it’s got that depth and variety of flavors it has the ability to bring out whatever flavors it’s mixed with. For example, if you make a cocktail that’s got pear in it, St-Germain has this ability to bring out more pear. If you make a cocktail with kiwi in it, it has this weird ability to bring out more of that kiwi flavor.”

Global domination on the horizon

The wild popularity of St-Germain among cocktail devotees on both sides of the bar led liquor giant Bacardi to buy the brand from Cooper Spirits earlier this year, with the intention of turning it into an international brand “icon” à la Grey Goose vodka, purchased by Bacardi in 2004.

Although Cooper continues to work with Bacardi as St-Germain’s “brand guardian,” I can’t help wondering if global domination will mean a compromise in the liqueur’s artisan production process.

“I have been working diligently for the past three or four years on growing our capacity,” Cooper told me. “So long as we can procure the flowers in sufficient quantities, we can make more St-Germain.”

Pepper Blossom

The Pepper Blossom is one of Root Down's most popular and creative cocktails. Credit: Tina Caputo

The Pepper Blossom is one of Root Down’s most popular and creative cocktails. Credit: Tina Caputo

This spicy-sweet cocktail was created by Mike Henderson of Root Down, in Denver.

Serves 1

Ingredients

1¼ ounces vodka

1¼ ounces St-Germain

¾ ounce lemon juice

½ ounce grapefruit juice

½ ounce jalapeño-infused simple syrup*

2 basil leaves

Directions

Combine all ingredients except basil in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.

Strain liquid into a lowball glass and garnish with basil leaves.

*To make jalapeño-infused simple syrup, add 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water and a fresh jalapeño (cut in half with seeds removed) to a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Let syrup cool and remove pepper before using. Will keep in the refrigerator up to four weeks.

Top photo: Elderflowers bloom in the French Alps for only four to six weeks each spring. Credit: Cooper Spirits International

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Sangria. Credit: iStockphoto

Sangria is a simple concoction of fruit, sugar, water and wine and a staple in sunny, tapas-minded Spain. Grown-up fruit punch, it’s refreshing and versatile, taking on more savory lemon and lime tones if that’s the fruit you choose, or slightly sweet if peaches are your preference.

But if you can’t be bothered to make your own, increasingly bars are making inventive versions, and good bottled versions abound.

Eppa SupraFruta is a bottled sangria, available in both red and white versions, made from organically grown Mendocino County wine grapes.

The red combines Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with a base of organic pomegranate, açai, blueberry, blood orange and lemon juices, while the white mixes Chardonnay with mangosteen, white peach, mango and blood orange juices. After the wine and fruit juices are blended, the sangria is left in stainless steel tanks for a few weeks before bottling.

Slices Sangria is the new creation of Mike Kenton, the founder of OFFbeat Brands. Kenton spent much of his career at Codorniu in Spain, where he fell in love with the traditional drink.

He uses wine made from Spanish grape varieties such as Tempranillo and Verdejo, blended with fruit juices such as orange, lime and blackberry (for the red); or lime, lemon and pineapple (for the white).

“Sangria has been on my family’s dining table for as long as I can remember,” said Slices’ Spanish winemaker, Miguel Gúrpide.

Gurpide also makes a sangria rosé (the fruit used includes lime, lemon and strawberry) and two sparkling sangrias, one rosé and one white.

Relatively light in alcohol (usually under 9% alcohol by volume), sangria is an easygoing cocktail to make for one or for a crowd, doused in club soda or given a couple of cubes of ice.

Eppa-phany Punch

Courtesy Eppa Sangria

Serves 1

Ingredients

2 to 3 cardamom pods

½ ounce lemon juice

½ ounce simple syrup

1 ounce fresh pineapple juice

2 ounces Eppa SupaFruta Sangria

Pineapple leaf, for garnish

Directions

1. In a tin, muddle the cardamom pods.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients.

3. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.

4. Double strain over ice in a wine glass.

5. Garnish with a pineapple leaf.

Spanish Tortilla

Courtesy Tara and Les Goodman, Adafina Culinary

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 onions, Spanish or sweet, sliced ⅛-inch thick

6 to 7 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, sliced into ¼-inch rounds

2 cups Spanish olive oil

6 large farm eggs

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Place the onions and potatoes in a medium mixing bowl, and toss with a couple pinches of kosher salt.

2. Place a 10- to 12-inch nonstick pan over medium-high flame, adding the onions and potatoes.

3. Pour in the olive oil and stir to coat.

4. When oil begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, turning frequently, until potatoes are fork-tender but not browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.

5. Remove pan from heat and strain the oil from the onions and potatoes.

6. Set aside oil and reserve for another use.

7. Cool onions and potatoes to room temperature, and adjust for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

8. Beat the eggs and add them to the cooled potato mixture.

9. Return pan to medium heat and stir the tortilla mixture as it cooks until eggs are slightly set.

10. Spread mixture out evenly and reduce heat to medium-low.

11. Cook until bottom is golden brown and eggs are set, about 10 to 12 minutes (you can place pan under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes if needed to set the top).

12. Remove pan from heat and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

13. Place a plate face down over the pan and flip tortilla over — bottom side up. Let cool for a half hour or so, and slice into wedges.

14. Serve with Spanish pimenton (paprika) aioli, crunchy sea salt, and a glass of chilled sangria — or a sangria cocktail.

Top  photo: Sangria. Credit: iStockphoto

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Silver Coin margaritas. Credit: Courtesy of Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe

Cinco de Mayo is a pretty straightforward holiday — no gifts, no elaborate rituals — but that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to the same old margarita. Instead, try a couple of variations with festive flair.

The first combines the standard one-two punch of tequila and Cointreau, plus helpings of lime juice and sugar syrup. But it provides a jolt to the tongue with the addition of muddled jalapeño. (Unless you like your heat register set to high, remove the seeds.)

The second is closer to the traditional: tequila, lime juice and Cointreau, with a clever combination of lemon and lime juice mixed with sugar to taste. The addition of salt around the rim and ice make it the perfect drink to enjoy poolside or at the beach, a tangy elixir of savory and sweet.

Jalapeño Margarita

Created by Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a Rosewood Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Serves 1

Ingredients

Jalapeño margarita

Jalapeño margarita. Credit: Courtesy of Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a Rosewood Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

1 muddled jalapeno, seeds removed

1½ ounces tequila

¾ ounce Cointreau

1 ounce lime juice

¾ ounce sugar syrup

Lime slices to garnish

Directions

1. Muddle the jalapeno.

2. In a margarita glass rimmed with salt and filled with ice, add muddled jalapeno, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and sugar syrup.

3. Garnish with a fresh slice of lime.

Silver Coin Margarita

Created by Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Serves 1

Ingredients

1½ ounces tequila, preferably El Tesero Platinum

½ ounce Cointreau

2½ ounces fresh lime, lemon and sugar mix

Lime slices to garnish

Directions

1. Combine fresh lime and lemon juice with sugar to taste.

2. In a rocks glass rimmed with salt and filled with ice, add the Tequila, Cointreau and lime/lemon/sugar mix.

3. Garnish with a fresh slice or two of lime.

Top photo: Silver Coin margaritas. Credit: Courtesy of Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe

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