We don’t drink a lot of hard liquor, but when we do, we’re definitely tequila people. I’ve gained a reputation for making a pretty great margarita. Which leads to the obvious rut — what else can we do with tequila besides margaritas?
Because I like high quality ingredients in everything I make, we have a good collection of liquor — artisans small-maker rums from the Caribbean and Havana Club rum smuggled in from Cuba (via Mexico) just for mojitos; fine handmade Kentucky bourbons and peaty aged Scotch; and at least five or six different special tequilas, many you can only get in Mexico. Many of these are sipping tequila — to put them into a drink would be a waste. However, on the next tier is my margarita tequila — usually Cazadores or Camarena — which make splendid drinks.
And so bored with margaritas this particular evening, I set about finding inspiration online for a different cocktail. We were having dinner with our pal Jon, who asked if he could bring something. Sure, I said, bring some tequila. He arrived with a bottle of rum. “Don’t drink that,” he said. “It’s cheap crap. Put it in a punch when you have a party.”
Thus advised, I proceeded to prepare my new tequila drink.
Mixology is a bit like baking — unless you really know what you’re doing, you don’t necessarily want to improvise. Once after blogging about a new drink I’d invented that I called Pontocho Road, I received a rather extensive treatise in my Comments section from a mixologist explaining to me proper cocktail rations, which apparently I’d bungled. My online research had led me to a website article on “15 Great Tequila Drinks That Aren’t Margaritas.” It featured several that utilized beer or ginger ale, a few that were very nearly margaritas with one or two additions. They all sounded delicious, but either weren’t what I was in the mood for, or included ingredients I didn’t have (black currant liqueur!? hibiscus syrup!?? Xocolati bitters!!???). Plus, they already all had names — which, if you’ve spent much time on this blog, you know is my favorite part of creating a new drink.
Taking a dash of inspiration from this drink and that drink, I invented my own based on what was at hand. Like many of the others, it could be considered a riff on the margarita — yet different enough to satisfy when you’ve got margarita burn out. I named it El Chapulín — “The Grasshopper.”
Some hip tequila bar pushing the culinary envelope in Hollywood or Miami would probably serve it with ground dried grasshoppers around the rim. But why ruin a perfectly good cocktail for the sake of shock value, I say.
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2 oz. reposada tequila
juice 1 large lime
1 oz. agave syrup
1 dash Pechaud bitters
3 or 4 thin slices jalapeño
Place all ingredients except carbonated water in a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake well. Pour over ice cubes in a large glass. Fill remainder of glass with carbonated water to taste (2 to 3 oz.)