Light, sparkling, fruity... those are some of the adjectives that have typically been used to describe popular summer cocktails.
Increasingly, though, ingredients from the savory end of the flavor spectrum are adding a touch of pique to this season's drinks. One of the most interesting options available right now? A jalapeño tequila made by Tanteo, which is showing up in cocktails all over the East Coast US. Later this month, Tanteo's bottles will be available around the country as the infused tequila begins to be sold in all 50 states.
Jonathan Rojewski, the Manhattan-based founder of Tanteo, spends much of his time in Tequila, Mexico, working to perfect the batches of the jalapeño tequila, one of three flavored tequilas Tanteo produces. Thanks to a law passed in 2006 that permitted tequileros to produce flavored tequilas for the first time, the variety and popularity of infused tequilas have been on the rise. There's prickly pear, lemon, and vanilla, to name just a few, but the jalapeño tequila Tanteo produces may be the spiciest on the market.
Besides the spirits themselves, ingredients that are common in Latin America are showing up more frequently in summer cocktails this year. There's an avocado-based cocktail at Area 31 Restaurant in Miami, which also serves a cocktail with a mouth-puckering pickle (see the recipe in our slideshow). Cilantro is increasingly popular, too, and has been paired with everything from cucumber and celery to pineapple and serrano chiles.
As the best-selling mixed drinks at these bars and restaurants prove, spicy and sabroso might be the new buzz words for this summer's favorite cocktails. And they're easy enough to make at home, too. Latino bartenders, managers, and owners of several top bars and restaurants have shared their favorite recipes with us. See all your options in our cocktails slideshow, then get out and gather your ingredients. Summer's calling.
Tanteo Jalapeño Margarita
Developed by the makers of Tanteo Jalapeño tequila, this cocktail has just the right amount of pique. It's served at the Court Bar at St. Giles-The Court Hotel in New York City, as well as at Roy's and Rosa Mexicano restaurants around the country. The tequila will be available for retail sale in liquor stores in all 50 states starting this month.
2 oz. Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila
1 oz. fresh lime juice
¾ oz. light agave nectar
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into an ice-filled, salt-rimmed rocks glass. Garnish with a jalapeño slice or a lime wheel.
Area 31 Spicy Pickle
Like the jalapeño margarita, the feature ingredient of the Spicy Pickle, developed at Area 31 Restaurant in Miami, is Tanteo Jalapeño tequila. Several of the restaurant's cocktails feature ingredients that may seem unusual, such as avocado; the pickle for which this cocktail is named is used as a garnish.
2 oz. jalapeño tequila
1 oz. agave nectar
1 oz. lime juice
3 slices cucumber
Pickle and/or lime slice
Muddle cucumber with all ingredients, shake well. Strain into a martini glass or strain over crushed ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with pickle if in martini glass. Garnish with saffron rim, pickle, and lime if in rocks glass.
Lantao Smoking Maguey
As its name suggests, the Smoking Maguey, developed at Miami's Lantao restaurant and social club , is a complex drink with savory notes balancing out the fruit of the cocktail. You can get as creative with your rimming salts as you can with the ingredients of the drinks themselves.
1 1/2 oz. Partida Blanco Tequila
1/2 oz. Del Maguey Vida
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. agave nectar
Smoked paprika rimming salt and lime wheel
Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and shake. Strain over fresh ice in a smoked paprika rimmed glass. Garnish with lime wheel.
Strawberry Pisco Sour
Flavored mojitos are so last summer. Now, bartenders have moved on to flavored modifications of other traditional favorites, like the pisco sour. This one was developed by Will Hadjigeorgalis, head mixologist at New York's Hotel Americano, the first US hotel in the Mexico-based boutique hotelier Grupo Habita.
2 oz. Pisco Porton
Equal parts lemon and lime juice
Simple syrup to taste
Half of strawberry for garnish
Mix all ingredients in a shaker and strain into a glass for serving; garnish with half a strawberry.
Angel of Harlem
The base liquor of this cocktail, developed at the hip and always-busy Corner Social in Harlem, New York, is Malibu Red, a fusion spirit recently released to market, blending rum and tequila.
2 oz. Malibu Red
½ oz. Crème de cassis
1 oz. Ginger ale
Shake Malibu Red and Crème de cassis. Strain into a Collins glass over ice and top with ginger ale. Garnish with a cherry and a lemon twist.
Have you ever had aloe in a cocktail? Talavera Cocina Mexicana in Coral Gables, Florida, blends aloe with hibiscus and tequila in this unexpectedly fresh cocktail.
2 oz. Tequila 100% Agave
½ oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. aloe vera juice
½ oz. simple syrup
1 oz. of hibiscus tea
Make a homemade simple syrup by combining equal parts sugar and boiling water. For a lower calorie version, substitute with Splenda or sugar alternative of choice. Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice and serve in a very cold martini glass. Garnish with lime wedge.
If you're looking to update the traditional sangria recipe or you want to mix up a large batch of drinks, Peacock Garden Cafe of Coconut Grove, Florida has shared its basil sangria recipe. This recipe makes a gallon.
Peacock Garden Café, Coconut Grove FL
2-3 bottles of white OR red wine
½ bottle brandy
½ bottle triple sec
¼ bottle peach schnapps
2-4 oz. lemon-lime soda
8 oz. orange juice
4 oz. lime juice
2 oz. simple syrup
2 oz. basil syrup (water and fresh basil leaves)
Fill your pitcher nearly to top with red or white wine. Top with lemon lime soda.
Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher or bowl. Serve in wine glasses and garnish with a basil leaf or a handful of fresh blueberries if desired.
Julie Schwietert Collazo is a freelance writer living in Havana.