Tequila riffs on classics
Tequila riffs on classics


Tequila riffs on classics image 1

Tequila riffs on classics

Words by Simon Difford

Our friends at Patrón Tequila gave us something of a challenge, "What classic cocktails work well with tequila instead of their original base spirit? "There will be loads", I confidently said, thinking that the Margarita is arguably a Sidecar with tequila and remembering that a Cosmopolitan made with tequila is a Rude Cosmo. Hence, I set about finding "rude" versions of the following cocktails.

1. Aviation

With tequila = Arte de Volar
Tequila replaces gin in this riff on an Aviation - 'Arte de Volar' is Spanish for 'Art of Flying. As with the original gin based classic, notes of maraschino and violet subtly influence with lemon juice freshening and adding balance.

2. Bloody Mary

With tequila = Bloody Maria
Tequila adds its own personality to the classic Bloody Mary.

Also with tequila = Slutty Mary
A Bloody Maria given extra spice with chipotle chilli.

Also with tequila = Vampiro
Something of a supercharged Bloody Maria with a hint of sweet grenadine.

3. Blood & Sand

With tequila = Gringo's Blood & Sand
A Blood & Sand made with tequila. A classic Scotch whisky based Blood & Sand is made with equal parts of all four ingredients, but the cherry brandy, vermouth and orange seem to overwhelm tequila when used in place of Scotch, hence the much higher proportion of spirit in this riff.

With mezcal = Velasco & Sand
Mezcal adds a faintly smoky note to this riff on the classic Blood & Sand. The proportion of spirit and orange juice is slightly raised from the usual equal parts formula - the extra nip of mezcal adds an uplifting kick to the drink while more orange adds zippy freshness and lightens what can otherwise be a heavy cocktail.

4. Brandy Alexander

With tequila = Tequila Alexander
Creamy tequila and chocolate this tequila based riff on the classic Brandy Alexander is deliciously indulgent.

5. Cosmopolitan

With tequila = Rude Cosmopolitan
Don't let the pink appearance of this Cosmopolitan (made with tequila in place of vodka) fool you into thinking it's a fluffy cocktail. It's both serious and superb.

Also with tequila = Rude Ginger Cosmopolitan
To quote Halo's cocktail list, the bar where we discovered this drink, "Looks like a cosmo, goes like a Mexican!"

6. Corpse Reviver

With tequila = Cadáver Reviver
The combination of tequila and triple sec make this riff on the classic Corpse Reviver remarkably Margarita-like, only with added complexity and subtlety due to the aromatised wine and faintest hint of absinthe.

7. Harvey Wallbanger

With tequila = Freddy Fudpucker
A Harvey Wallbanger made with tequila in place of vodka. Squeeze quality oranges just before making and you'll be amazed just how good this cocktail is.

8. Espresso Martini

With tequila = Jalisco Espresso
A tequila laced wake up call.

9. French Martini

With tequila = Mexican Martini
Tequila replaces vodka in this riff on the French Martini. Considering tequila is replacing vodka you'd think blanco tequila would work best, but after trying this and reposado we found añejo tequila works best with the tropical and berry fruits.

10. Gimlet

With tequila = Giblet
Tequila and lime are divine, and this riff on the usually gin-based original Gimlet is as good, although very different with the earthiness of the tequila adding an extra dimension which more than compensates for the lack of gin's botanical complexity.

11. Last Word

With tequila = Last Palabra
Tequila replaces gin in this riff on the classic Last Word with the amount of maraschino slightly reduced to accommodate the introduction of lavender syrup, which in turn is also balanced by a dash of lavender bitters.

Also with tequila = East Village Athletic Club
Essentially a Last Word with tequila instead of gin.

Also with tequila = The Bird Is The Word
To quote Fraser Campbell, the drinks creator, "influenced primarily by "The Last Word" with hints of "Yellow Parrot" ...and a tequila base."

12. Manhattan

With tequila = Mexican in Manhattan
I tried making my usual Sweet Manhattan but with añejo tequila as the base spirit and it was not half bad, but there's something about tequila that says 'white' rather than 'red' vermouth. I also started with my favourite addition to a Sweet Manhattan: a half spoon of syrup from the maraschino cherry jar, but añejo tequila is so much more suited to maraschino liqueur. So I switched sweet vermouth for bianco vermouth and Angostura Bitters for lavender bitters. (I love the combination of tequila and lavender.)

Also with tequila = Mexican Manhattan
You've tried this with bourbon, now surprise yourself with an aged tequila.

13. Tom Collins

With tequila = Jose Collins / Juan Collins
The classic long balance of sweet and sour with tequila adding Mexican spirit.

14. French 75

With tequila = Mexican 55
Suitably hard, yet surprisingly refreshing and sophisticated.

15. G&T

With tequila = T.N.T. (Tequila & Tonic)
A simple but very tasty way to enjoy tequila.

16. Mint Julep

With tequila = Jalisco Mint Julep
Given the use of tequila I initially opted for agave syrup over sugar syrup but I found the caramel notes that this added somewhat overwhelmed the mint. Instead, perhaps consider using demerara sugar in place of white cane syrup or a mix of the two.

17. Mojito

With tequila = Mojito de Cassa
A tequila based Mojito - simple as that.

18. Negroni

With tequila = Teqroni
Lighter and slightly sweeter than a classic gin-based Negroni with Campari. However, this Italian and Mexican trio make for pleasing cross continental bedfellows.

With tequila = Rosita
A bittersweet, tequila based, Negroni-like drink that uses dry and sweet vermouths.

19. Old-fashioned

With tequila = Oaxaca Old-fashioned
An agave based old-fashioned with a wonderful hit of smokiness from the mezcal.

Also with tequila = Estilo Viejo
The name of this drink literally translates from Spanish as 'Old Style'. It is basically a Tequila Old-fashioned.

Also with tequila = Almond Old-Fashioned
One to please fans of both tequila and the Old Fashioned drinks genre with amaretto adding the headline hint of almond.

20. Moscow Mule

With tequila = Mexican Mule
As the name suggests, this is a tequila based version of the Moscow Mule - simple as that. And very tasty.

Also with tequila = El Burro
Ginger spice and tequila soured with lime.

21. Pegu Club

With tequila = Tequila Club
The similarity of ingredients in this tequila based riff on the classic Pegu Club to the Margarita are obvious, so it's not surprising the finished drink is reminiscent of a Margarita, only lighter with the lime notes a lot subtler. As well as the tequila, orange curacao shines in this drink.

22. Porn Star Martini

With tequila = Estrella Porno Martini
A tequila (instead of vodka) based Porn Star Martini. 'Estrella Porno' is Spanish for 'Porn Star'.

23. Sex on the Beach

With tequila = Playa Del Mar
A fruity complex taste with a hint of tequila. The name translates as a 'Beach of the Sea'.

24. Vieux Carré

With tequila = Plaza Antigua
The sweet herbal punch you'll recognise from the classic Vieux Carré but somehow given extra life and fresh vitality by the addition of a shot of tequila. I halved the amount of cognac and bourbon usually used in a Vieux Carré to make way for the shot of tequila. I also tried using añejo tequila as the only base spirit, but while this drink was good it was straying too far away from what's recognisable as a Vieux Carré and my intention was to riff this drink rather than create something so different. ('Plaza Antigua' is Spanish for 'Old Square', while 'Vieux Carré' is in turn French for 'Old Square'.)

25. White Lady

With tequila = Dama Blanca
This tequila (in place of gin) based riff on a White Lady is basically a Margarita made with lemon rather than lime, softened and smoothed by egg white. This is a delightful drink. Go easy spraying the zest as this can overly dominate the drink. This drink works best with a light agave syrup as the darker versions affect its virgin-like hue and can add unwanted caramel notes. (Dama Blanca is Spanish for 'White Lady'.)