Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
It’s not like anyone needs a good reason to drink tequila, right? But if you do, July 24 is the holiday for you: It’s National Tequila Day!
The origins of this particular holiday are unclear. Did someone once do the most body shots in history? Drink the biggest margarita every mixed? Who knows. I’ve decided the best way to celebrate is to take advantage of the increasingly good tequilas—and their close cousin mezcal—at the places that specialize in them.
Here’s a generous handful of them. Now, go celebrate National Tequila Day.
Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Not long ago the folks from Portland, Oregon’s Salt & Straw stopped by the F&W offices, and there was much rejoicing. That’s because what Salt & Straw makes is ice cream, and when you bring ice cream to an office full of ravenous food fanatics, rejoicing and/or gorging is what happens.
What particularly intrigued me about Salt & Straw, though, is that it’s one of several artisanal ice cream producers involved in what you might call a “cocktail ice cream” trend. For their newly released Strawberry and Verbena Pimm’s Cup flavor, for instance, S&S cofounder Tyler Malek teamed up with bartender Ross Hunsinger of Portland’s Aviary bar to create a concoction utilizing strawberries, lemon verbena and a zingy gin marmalade.
5@5 is a food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
Editor's note: Robert O. Simonson is the author of "The Old Fashioned" and he writes about cocktails, spirits and bar culture for The New York Times as well as GQ, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Imbibe, Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn, and Time Out New York.
The thing to keep in mind about the Old-Fashioned - and the reason this drink keeps people fascinated, satisfied and frequently argumentative - is that it’s not just a great cocktail but that it’s also the cocktail. That is, it follows to the letter the blueprint for a category of drink - spirit, bitters, water, sugar - that was established more than two centuries ago.
That recipe structure, while as sturdy as steel, also happens to be endlessly welcoming of interpretation, embracing spirits well beyond the de rigueur whiskey. In fact, for a short period of time in the late-19th-century and early 20th century, a number of old cocktail books treated the Old-Fashioned not as a single drink, but as a branch of cocktails. (Gin Old-Fashioned, Brandy Old-Fashioned, etc.)
Today’s mixologists approach the drink with much the same mix of reverence and imagination, perfecting their ultimate expression of the classic drink with one hand, while messing around with the model with the other. The profit of this twin-minded attitude is that many of today’s cocktail menus include a classic Old-Fashioned for the purists and, for the curious, an in-house version that switches out the base spirit, the sweetener, the bitters and sometimes all three.
So, it you ever find yourself growing tired of the same old Bourbon or Rye Old-Fashioned (why this would happen, we can’t fathom), there are options. Try giving one of these differently spiritous iterations a spin.
5 Old-Fashioned variations for every spirit: Robert O. Simonson
(Travel + Leisure) No detail is too trivial for New York’s Empellón Taqueria, which stocks more than five types of salt just for its margaritas. One specialty salt is spiked with chiles and ground-up maguey; another, infused with ginger, tops off the spiced pear margarita.
America’s best margaritas, recommended by tequila experts and some of the country’s top mixologists, range from spicy to sweet, shaken to frozen. We wanted to toast the classics as well as quirky variations on the standard recipe of tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. What all these margaritas share with Empellón’s is a thoughtful commitment to quality—and complementary—ingredients.
The esteemed margarita at Tommy’s Mexican, a San Francisco institution, substitutes agave nectar (honey water) for triple sec with such success that it’s been replicated by bars across America.
Houston’s Pastry War supplies a bubble tea straw to suck up the whole pomegranate seeds in its frozen margaritas. In New Orleans, Tivoli & Lee draws on local inspiration, adding native hibiscus to its margarita. These versions don’t require limes, an advantage at a time when a lime shortage has been making headlines and raising prices nationwide.
Whether you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo or just the end of the workweek, fill your glass with one of the finest margaritas north of the border.
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