Good-quality tequila, which is to say 100% agave tequila (look for it on the label), should not require salt, or margarita mix, or a blender to make it palatable. I spent last week in Mexico visiting seven tequila distilleries and had just two Margaritas, but I wasn’t complaining: Tequila is one of my favorite spirits for sipping.
I’ll take the untamed sweet potato flavor of an unaged blanco, the peppery notes and refined structure that come through on a lightly-aged reposado, or the caramel woodiness that can define a well-aged anejo: Who needs mixers when the tequila is good?
This isn’t to say I don’t also love a tasty tequila cocktail. Just the other week in fact, I had a tequila cocktail so great that I knew I’d have to bug the bartender until he gave me the recipe to share. Luckily it didn’t take much bugging.
This drink is wonderfully light and refreshing, with soft green tea and apple juice lengthening the fresh and slightly fruity notes in the Don Julio blanco tequila. The touch of jalapeno is a nice surprise.
With the Dragonwell Punch as well as with many good cocktails, the goal is not to hide a low-quality spirit with a mess of sugary mixers, but to build on the base spirit to create a new merger of flavors. If the liquor is not good enough for drinking on its own, you might want to reconsider putting it into your cocktail.
By Daniel Hyatt of The Alembic bar in San Francisco
1.5 fl. oz. Don Julio Blanco Tequila
1 fl. oz. Green Tea and Jalapeno-Infused Apple Juice (see below)
Mint leaf for garnish
Add liquid ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf.
Green Tea and Jalapeno-Infused Apple Juice
1 liter Apple Juice
4 tablespoons Dragonwell Green Tea
3 Jalapeno peppers, deseeded and juiced
Add tea to apple juice and allow to cold infuse for two days. Strain out the tea. Add juiced jalapenos to the blend. Store in the refrigerator.