Today I share some new ideas for using tequila in refreshing drinks from the seminar presented by the Patron brand at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen in June.
"We're going to have a 45-minute tequila lesson today," said David Alan, manager, trade education and mixology expert for The Patron Spirits Co. "Instead of starting with the lesson, let's have a cocktail immediately."
That's when we mixed a Coralina Margarita using the bar setup at each of our seats. In front of us were a coupe glass, Patron Reposado Tequila, simple syrup, fresh lime, Patron Citronge Orange Liqueur, red wine, hibiscus sugar salt and a cocktail shaker.
"This is the margarita of the year," he said.
We rubbed the lime around the rim of the coupe glass and dipped it into a mixture of hibiscus sugar salt. I have loved garnishing cocktails with preserved hibiscus flowers, but I was unfamiliar with dried hibiscus. I've found dried flowers at my go-to spice place, Savory Spice Shop downtown, so I have a margarita glass garnish at the ready. But I digress. Back to the lime.
"To squeeze the juice from the lime, place the lime cut side down in the squeezer," he said. "Might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how often I see the lime in a squeezer with the cut side up - go figure!"
Once the tequila, liqueur, simple sugar and lime juice were shaken with ice and strained into thecoupe, the red wine was carefully floated over the drink. It was elegant, delicious and, as promised, refreshing.
Next up, we made an old-fashioned - with tequila.
"This is the next drink for tequila," he said. "It's a breakout drink. You can say you heard it in Aspen."
His tip: Use the biggest ice cubes you can find for an old-fashioned and gently stir. "You don't want to dilute the cocktail too fast," he said.
While this was a good-tasting drink, I prefer the lighter margarita. It didn't seem to have the higher alcoholic finish.
Patron markets several styles of tequilas. One you won't find in their lineup is tequila bearing the label "agave spirit" on it. This wording indicates the tequila wasn't made in Mexico. All Patron tequilas come from Mexico. We sampled various ages of Patron tequila in the seminar, including the Gran Patron Burdeos.
"This is a very limited edition and sells for $400 a bottle," he said. "It's aged in bourbon barrels and distilled three times."
Here are the recipes for your sipping enjoyment.