By Warren Bobrow
The time of year that we call winter may not be as dreary as once thought. Although the weather can get rather challenging, our choices for cocktails need not be. Our palate seems to crave citrus fruits at this time of the year even more so than in the summer. Apparently, citrus is king during the cold winter months with choices like the vividly colored blood orange, clementine, satsuma, tangelo and many others. There is nothing that I find more pleasurable on a cold day then to peel open a small, fat grapefruit and smelling the oils on my fingers while I tuck into the juicy, spicy fruit.
The first time I ever drank tequila was in prep school, where many of the parties sported those ubiquitous bottles of golden yellow colored firewater. This product was like a liquid anthem to my classmates, a horribly memorable hangover that made me want to skip tequila unless very thirsty.
It was on a vacation down in the Yucatan Peninsula during college that I sought out the refreshing and pleasurable qualities of Blanco Tequila. The variety of citrus fruits available for purchase on this trip to the historic regions of the Yucatan was truly astounding. Although it was winter up in Boston where I attended college, it was deep summer in the jungles surrounding the temples at Chichen Itza. With summer temperatures come warm weather thirsts and the citrus fruits of the region in my mind's eye, shine clearly to today. I remember coming across a fruit stand near the pyramids, possessing a massive thirst. As any good traveler to Mexico knows, "skip the ice, spare the stomach". They were pressing fresh citrus juices with an ancient lever operated juicing machine. Couldn't hurt, right? Fresh juices poured into a paper cup with no ice to contaminate my sensitive stomach? But what was that in the bottle over there? Why was the smiling woman behind the stand pouring large shots of a clear liquid into the fresh fruit juices? Was pouring tequila over the freshly squeezed juices meant to sterilize the cup?
Nope, it was supposed to make all the ingredients taste better! After a couple of these tall drinks I too began to feel less feverish in the brutal sunshine. The temples of Chichen Itza seemed to become visually fuzzy in the heat and I connected with the original inhabitants of this sacred place deeply.
The first time that I tasted Casa Noble Tequila it was in a style that I hadn't attempted in decades. I had not enjoyed a glass of citrus fruits and tequila since my visit to Mexico during the 80's or a bit after that. Drinking tequila had fallen off my radar because I didn't care for it straight up in a shot, nor lost in a Margarita filled with crushed ice, cheap triple sec and bottled lime juice. Suddenly I was thirsty for some freshly squeezed citrus fruits, strained into a tall glass with some Mavea "Inspired" filtered water ice, then a healthy shot or more of this highly expressive and gorgeous tequila poured over the top.
The next thing I did was to pour the glass of sweet, yet tangy liquids down my throat. Tequila and fruit juices are quite healing to the body, especially when fighting off the flu. The combination of citrus to the Casa Noble Tequila makes me feel that my sinuses and my mind had cleared immediately. And I got that dreamy feeling of being in Mexico at Chichen Itza all over again.
Chichen Itza Cooler
• 2 oz. Casa Noble "Crystal" Tequila Blanco
• 1 oz. each: FRESHLY SQUEEZED (Essential) lemon, lime, blood orange and grapefruit juices
• 3 - 4 shakes The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters
• 1/8th teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
• Sprigs of Fresh mint
• Filtered Water Ice (water is filtered through the Mavea "Inspired" water pitcher) then infused with hot chili peppers and lime zests (add 2-3 teaspoons of crushed hot chili peppers and an equal amount of finely chopped lime zests to a tray of Mavea "inspired" water, then freeze until firm)
1. Remove three infused-Mavea "inspired" ice cubes from the tray. Add them to a tall Collins glass.
2. To a Boston shaker, fill ¾ with regular ice.
3. Add the fruit juices.
4. Add the Casa Noble Tequila.
5. Add the Jerry Thomas bitters.
6. Shake for 30 seconds vigorously.
7. Strain over the top of the chili pepper and lime infused ice.
8. Garnish with fresh mint and sprinkle some fresh cinnamon over the top.
Cheers from DrinkUpNY!
Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.