El Moderno (aka Tequila Old Fashioned)

diycocktails-modernoThe Old Fashioned is the original cocktail … but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying a bunch of variations on the drink. Using the same ratio as an Old Fashioned only with different spirits is a great jumping off point for creating your own cocktail. (My book goes into this in detail!)

Here I’ve taken tequila and paired it with agave syrup (a natural partner, since tequila is made with agave) and grapefruit bitters (grapefruit and tequila are also BFFs).

El Moderno

1 1/2 ounces tequila reposado
1 teaspoon agave syrup
3 dashes grapefruit bitters (I used DIY grapefruit bitters)

Pour the agave syrup and bitters into an old-fashioned glass and stir with a bar spoon. Add ice, then pour in tequila and stir. Optional: Garnish with slice of grapefruit.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman

Cranberry Margarita

cranberrymargaritaIn honor of Thanksgiving, I got together with Savvy Housekeeping for a turkey-day-appropriate cocktail: the Cranberry Margarita! Aside from the gorgeous, deep red color, this drink has a refreshing tartness that is just the thing for a holiday built around heavy savory foods.

We used 100% cranberry juice for that true cranberry pucker. However, if you like things a little sweeter you can either add a little simple syrup (or agave) or you can use sweetened cranberry juice cocktail. Hey, this could even be a job for cran-apple, cran-raspberry, or another cran-juice.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Margarita

1 1/2 oz cranberry juice
1 oz tequila
1/2 oz triple sec

Shake ingredients over ice, then strain into a cocktail glass. Spear fresh cranberries for garnish.

Fresh Cherry Margarita (and Camarena Tequila review)

CherryMargaritaFamilia Camarena sent me some tequila to review, along with a cute little cocktail tool kit. All I could think when I saw it was “Margarita time!” But all the summer fruit around made me want to get a little more creative than that. Since I couldn’t get Margaritas off my mind, I mixed up some Cherry Margaritas. I made this a little strong, since I like to taste the tequila and this is nice tequila. You can adjust the tequila and lime to your tastes.

(After the recipe, I’ll give my thoughts about Camarena Tequila.)

Cherry Margarita

12 cherries (pitted)
1 ounce light agave nectar
2 ounces silver tequila
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice

Muddle the cherries and the agave nectar at the bottom of a shaker or mixing glass. Add the tequila and lime juice along with ice and then shake vigorously. Strain into rocks glass with fresh ice.

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Cinco de Mayo Cocktails

Michelada from T Magazine

Michelada from T Magazine

Margaritas are the usual go-to cocktail for Cinco de Mayo. But if you’re looking for a different kind of Cinco de Mayo drink, here are a few fun ways to celebrate.

Michelada ~ Perfect for sipping all afternoon, this is a spiced beer cocktail that goes well with Mexican food.

Beer and a Smoke ~ Here’s another beer cocktail, only this one’s made with smoky mezcal for more oomph.

Rhubarb Rita ~ Rhubarb is in season, and it’s a great buddy for tequila. Slightly tart with a hint of sweetness, this is a refreshing Spring twist on a Margarita.

El Guapo ~ You can use tequila or mezcal in this spicy cousin to the classic Margarita. Bring on the heat!

Cilantro Tequila Lime Spritzer ~ If you want something light, this herbed spritzer will do the trick. Add jalapeƱo slices for a little kick.

Grapefruit Margarita


Grapefruit is an ideal cocktail ingredient, so I don’t know why everyone (including me!) doesn’t pour it into the shaker more often. Savvy Housekeeping and I rectified that problem right away by mixing up this fantastic Grapefruit Margarita. Seasonal and delicious!

The drink is a nice bridge between a tart and strong traditional Margarita and the sweet and fruity Margarita variations, like a Strawberry Margarita. It’s lightly sweet with just the right amount of citrus kapow. Be sure to use silver tequila—an aged tequila will overpower the grapefruit and doesn’t have the same grassy flavor of the clear stuff. We couldn’t stop ourselves at just one.

Grapefruit Margarita

1 1/2 ounces silver tequila
1 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
2 1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
1/4 ounce lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake thoroughly, then strain the drink into a glass. Optional: garnish with a grapefruit slice.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

The Heartbeet Cocktail

It can be a challenge to find the right Valentine’s Day cocktail, so Savvy Housekeeping and I got together to make a drink that wasn’t your usual chocolatey sugar affair. Because of their gorgeous deep red color, beet juice was the main ingredient of choice. Not only was it pretty, but it gave the drink a lightly sweet, bright flavor with an earthiness that matched well with the agave notes of tequila. To romance! Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Heartbeet Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces tequila
2 ounces beet juice
1/4 ounce pomegranate liqueur
1/4 ounce lemon juice
Lemon twist to garnish

Juice a beet, either with a juicer or a blender, or buy beet juice from the store. If you’re using the blender method, chop the beet, run on the finest setting, and push through a sieve. Be careful with the juice—it stains.

In a cocktail shaker, combine all liquids over ice and shake thoroughly. Strain into a glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Tequila Fresa Punch

Even though Spring has sprung, it will still be a while before a lot of fruit is in season. So let’s enjoy one delicious fruit that’s ready now: strawberries!

This berry is a great companion for many spirits, but I particularly like the way its sweetness accents the lightly smoky notes in a tequila reposado. Reposado is aged, so it is the lighter amber-colored tequila. Be sure to use 100% agave tequila and not a “mixto,” which may be the same color but isn’t the same thing.

Here’s a recipe for the infused tequila and the punch. (You can scale up the punch recipe to serve more and make the tequila infusion with equal parts tequila and strawberries in whatever quantity you’ll need.)

Strawberry-Infused Tequila Reposado
1 part tequila reposado
1 part chopped strawberries

Steep for about five days.

Tequila Fresa Punch
(1 serving)

1 1/2 ounces parts strawberry-infused tequila reposado
1/2 ounce triple sec
3/4 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
2 ounces grapefruit soda
1 dash orange bitters
Sliced strawberries for garnish

Shake all ingredients except the soda and strawberries in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into chilled old fashioned glass with several ice cubes. Add the soda on top of the strained liquid. Garnish with strawberries.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman

Rhubarb Rita

I used to think of rhubarb as “that vegetable people put in strawberry pie for some reason.” But then I tried some and discovered a tart and refreshing ingredient that’s ideal for a cocktail. Aside from being a bit sour, (which we know is a good quality in a cocktail ingredient) rhubarb has a mild, grassy flavor that you won’t find in citrus or other sour fruits. It has a long growing season and grows in a variety of places, so you’ll see fresh, pink bunches of it from April through September.

Rhubarb pairs well with the agave notes in tequila, so I jazzed up the “Life of the Party” Margarita recipe using some rhubarb. I developed this recipe for a Patron project about fresh ingredients via Liqurious.

Rhubarb Rita
1/2 stalk rhubarb, chopped into half-inch pieces
1/4 of a lime
2 ounces silver tequila
1 1/2 ounces rhubarb syrup (recipe follows)

Vigorously muddle the rhubarb and lime at the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila, syrup and ice cubes, then shake for 20 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Rhubarb Syrup
(makes 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups water
5 stalks rhubarb, chopped into half-inch pieces
3/4 cup cane sugar

Bring all ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. The rhubarb will separate and turn into mush. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep for 10 more minutes. Strain out the solids through a fine-mesh sieve or cheese cloth. You can use the mush in baking. Keep the syrup in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

A note about rhubarb: Always discard the leaves, as they are not edible.

Midnight Blue Margarita

Blueberries don’t actually make for a blue drink, so a little blue curacao makes this cocktail a lovely deep shade of midnight blue. A lovely wintery take on the margarita.

Midnight Blue Margarita

1.5 ounces tequila blanco
.5 ounces blue curacao
.75 ounces blueberry syrup*
.5 ounces meyer lemon juice

Shake ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker, then serve in a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with blueberries speared on a cocktail toothpick.

*Blueberry syrup

.5 cups water
.5 cups sugar
.5 cups blueberries

Bring ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool, then strain out blueberries.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman