Barrio

2 oz Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz St. Germain
1/4 oz light agave syrup
Few dashes Celery Bitters (any non-citrusy bittters would work here)
Few dashes hot sauce

Shake with ice, strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with lime peel


Cinco de Mayo.  That wonderful holiday celebrating…well, uh…I honestly have no idea. It certainly gives St. Patrick’s day a run for its money when it comes to holidays appropriated by Americans for the purposes of drinking.  At least I have a vague idea of what St. Patrick’s day is about.  I wanna say it’s something about driving rodents out of a town in Ireland. Or was it snakes?  Maybe I’m confusing it with Whacking Day.  Anyway, I don’t know what Cinco de Mayo is really about, but that doesn’t mean I won’t eat some tacos and drink some tequila.

Before we get to the latter, let me offer an alternative to your margaritas and tequila shots for this celebration, in the form of the Michelada.  Ever since I had one at a swim up bar on my honeymoon in Costa Rica, I’ve been hooked.  They’re my preferred accompaniment to a plate of tacos or enchiladas in lieu of the usual margarita.  One could call it a beer cocktail, but that’s not entirely true since there’s no booze.  Basically, you combine a standard issue mexican lager (Modelo Especial is my cerveza du jour), lime juice, hot sauce, and maggi seasoning (a soy-less cousin of soy sauce, with similar umami flavors) over ice.  There are dozens of variations on the recipe – some people add tomato juice, others add clamato juice, even others might add some worcester sauce into the mix.  However, I prefer the straight forward approach, especially since the combination of beer and tomato juice can quickly veer off course if the proportions aren’t dialed in.

The no frills version offers a drink that is refreshingly savory.  Anyone who’s ever stuck a lime in a corona and inverted it knows that citrus and mexican lagers are close friends, and can be quite thirst quenching.  Add in the piquant punch from the maggi seasoning and the tingling from the hot sauce, and you’ve got a drink packed with flavors you’re more likely to see on a plate than in a glass.

That being said, it wouldn’t be Cinco de Mayo without a tequila drink.  I wanted something with flavors somewhat reminiscent of a Michelada, so lime juice and hot sauce were no brainers.  To balance out some of the heat, I brought in a touch of sweetness with St. Germain and a bit of agave syrup.  Celery bitters added a subtle savory element.  I was tempted to add a few dashes of maggi seasoning, but thought that might be too on the nose.

The Barrio had lots of complex spice on the nose from the hot sauce and celery bitters.  The bitters continued to peek out on the sip, which melded nicely with agave in the tequila.  Tartness from the lime made this an easy drinker.  The drink had a nice round body from the St. Germain and agave syrup, but didn’t veer into cloying territory.  Lots of untraditional flavors in play here, in a good way.  That seems about right given that we started with the equally odd-yet-delicious Michelada.

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