I’m currently in central Mexico, where the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations are in full swing. Here the dead get remembered in strange and wonderful ways. Visiting the graves. Building alters in the home that are full of symbolism—and the favorite food and drinks of the deceased. Making special rolls and candy skulls. And women getting dressed up like walking skeletons, complete with fancy hats and dresses.
Meanwhile though, this is a time of festive celebration. So how about some cocktails? These come from the people at Espolón Tequila. Their reposado is made from 100% pure Blue Agave from the Los Altos region and is aged six months in American Oak barrels. This is a brand whose label is about as true to Mexico as you can get, with imagery related to Day of the Dead and the Mexican revolution. (At a retail price of $25, it’s also a great value.)
I’ve only tried the first cocktail below—I was missing too many ingredients for the others—but they all look like a fitting way to toast the dead.
2 oz. Espolón Tequila Reposado
1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
.75 oz. Orange Curaçao or Triple Sec
.5 oz. Light Agave Nectar
.5 cup peeled and chopped cantaloupe
1/8 tsp. Chile de Arbol powder
1 small edible marigold for garnish
Muddle cantaloupe, Agave Nectar, and Orange Curaçao in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients, excluding garnish. Add ice and shake very well for at least 10 seconds. Double strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with edible marigold.
Ashes to Ashes
Created by H. Joseph Ehrmann
Elixir, San Francisco
1.5 oz. Espolón Tequila Reposado
.5 oz. Pedro Ximenez Sherry
1 oz. Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Sweetened Cocoa Mix
.25 oz. Agave Nectar
1 pinch Ground Cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a mixing glass, fill with ice, cover and shake well for 10 seconds. Strain up into a cocktail glass. Garnish with cinnamon dust.
Created by Thomas Waugh
Death & Company, New York
2 oz. Espolón Tequila Blanco
.5 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
.75 oz. Simple Syrup
1 small strawberry
10 whole black peppercorns
Splash of Absinthe
Muddle strawberry with black peppercorns. Rinse a cocktail glass with absinthe. Shake all ingredients with ice in a shaker and fine strain into the rinsed cocktail glass.