|Photo by T.J. McLachlan|
In honour of Cinco de Mayo, let us present another feature cocktail, the Tamarindo. Essentially the tamarindo is a variation of the classic margarita, a cocktail which has been a constant on my list of favorites since I first experienced the drink with my brother Ben and great friend Aaron at Colorado's Rio Grande restaurant. The Rio is well known in Colorado for its delicious steak burritos and margaritas. The restaurant would close down every afternoon for a siesta, but without fail people would line up down the street waiting to do battle with the Rio's infamous three margarita limit, a battle in which there can be no true winner.
Although the recipe of the Rio marg is a closely guarded secret there was much speculation (often tequila fueled) as to its makeup, and we spent many summer nights trying to recreate the alchemists blend of strong, sweet, sour, and salt. For awhile we added tree top applejuice to tequila, triple sec, and lime juice in an effort to balance the harshness of the low quality spirits we would often buy. I even recall having the brilliant idea of freezing the applejuice in ice cube trays so that we could make blended drinks without having unwanted dilution.
Alas, as time has passed, I've come to realize that the margarita is definitely a case of less is more. First of all, good spirits are absolutely necessary: the better the base ingredients, the better the cocktail. Start with 2 parts 100% agave tequila. For our first event this weekend we'll be using the excellent Cazadores Reposado tequila, a 100% blue agave spirit that is rested for a minimum of two months in new American oak casks. To that add 1 part Cointreau, the original Triple Sec for which there really is no substitute. To balance the sweetness of the Cointreau, add 1 part freshly squeezed lime juice - from a lime, not that green bottle hidden somewhere behind your soya sauce and thousand island dressing.
So how do you improve perfection? You add tamarind.
Our cocktail is named in honour of Jarritos Tamarindo soda, which also pairs exceptionally well with burritos. To the above mixture of 1 1/2 ounces tequila, 3/4 ounce Cointreau, and 3/4 ounce lime juice, we add 3/4 ounce of our homemade tamarind simple syrup. The syrup maintains the balance of sour and sweet which is crucial to the margarita, while adding the distinctive flavour profile of tamarind. The final step to this drink is to add 1/2 egg white. This produces an incredible velvety frothiness to the cocktail, almost a middle ground between the frozen and rocks versions of the margarita.
And you don't even have to freeze any apple juice...