2 oz Blanco Tequila <Lunazul>
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Few dashes Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
4 oz Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (any citrusy IPA will do)
Combine and shake everything but the IPA with ice, strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with 4 oz Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with lime wedge or twist.
This month’s Mixology Monday goes in the opposite direction of the previous one. Last time, we devised drinks to help brave the depths of winter. This go-round, we’re looking toward the future to warmer climes with the theme of Spring Break. Joe DiPippa of the Southern Ash blog describes it thusly:
Welcome to the 106th installment of Mixology Monday, the online monthly cocktail party! After the winds of winter blew through in January and we steeled ourselves against the cold in MxMO CV, February is bringing the end of (meteorological) winter! As we look past the frost in the air for the arrival of spring, I wanted to challenge you with the theme of Spring Break!
Aside from looking at the calendar and counting down the days to the return of warmer weather, the countdown is also on to Spring Break. The best part of Spring Break is that it means so many things to so many different people, so I have some high expectations this month. Yes, tiki-heads, I am looking at you.
I want all of you to dig deep, steeled by last month’s MxMO, and find your spring break drink! What sort of drinks do you enjoy when you start to break out of your winter shell? Do you crave a return to gin and tonics? Is there a drink that calls to you as the weather warms and the sun creeps through the sky longer and longer? Perhaps there is a drink that you fondly recall from your days of being a callow youth on Spring Break that led you down this primrose cocktail path? Do you turn to a specific cocktail throughout this blustery winter to keep your dreams of spring alive? Do you crave a new cocktail taking you away? This is the month to to share those warm weather finds!
A few things immediately jump to mind. One is the ubiquitous spring break destination of many-a-coed (myself included, albeit over a decade ago); Cancun. So something tequila based seemed only natural. Next my mind drifted toward one of the most simply delicious and refreshing warm weather sippers – the Paloma. There is something divine that happens when you combine these three modest ingredients. A long drink that is at home on the porch after a day at the beach or bright and fizzy enough to give you some energy to hit the dance floor at a club.
I decided to use this as my inspiration and draw on my love of craft beer to take it to the next level with the Bike Chariot*. Big, citrusy IPAs are all over the place these days, and one of these would make a perfect substitute for the traditional grapefruit soda. Taking the grapefruit flavors to heart, I went all in and used some Grapefruit Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing instead. Obviously tequila would still serve as the base spirit (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it), and lime juice would surely reprise its role. To compliment the hops’ bitterness, I went with some Aperol.
Things were progressing nicely, but there was something lacking in this drink. It still tasted like a less-good Paloma. Looking over the bar in search of an answer, I noticed my bottle of Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters. At first I thought maybe this was too on-the-nose given all the other flavors, but added a few drops anyway. Wow! What a difference. I mentioned in my Poppin’ Bottles post that cocktail bitters are basically like salt for bartenders. And this proved the point, making all the flavors lurking under the surface really pop. Bitter hops, citrusy grapefruit, the vegetal quality of the tequila were all now standing at attention. Even the maltiness from the beer shined through.
Finally, I had reached a beer based version of my beloved Paloma, something that may take the place of them this spring and summer (occasionally, as the original is just so damn good). Thanks to Joe for this month’s theme, and hopefully this and other entries will be the winter escape everyone needs.
* The name pays homage to an alternative word my friend coined for those bicycle petty cabs you see in various cities. After a night of Sculpins and some tequila shots at a work outing in San Diego (home of Ballast Point Brewing), said friend declared he wanted to charter a “Bike Chariot” in search of some late night grub. The term was too good to go unused.