In the shaker: Getting creative with cocktails


Murray Slater explores some fresh and fruity twists on the ultimate tequila cocktail

Tequila, as we all know, is not made from a cactus. It is made from the agave plant, which is a member of the lily family. But the popular misconception, married with the truth, stands as quite a nice metaphor for this much-maligned spirit, which started out with a reputation for being harsh, wild and spiky, and is now evolving into something rather more sophisticated and elegant. Nonetheless, ‘tequila is not just for chucking down your throats’ is still a relatively new phrase in the bartender’s vocabulary. But if you want to spread the word about the agave spirit, then the Margarita is the most important weapon in your war against ‘consumption for inebriation’.

Blueberry & Ginger Margarita

Glass: Martini/Rocks
Garnish: Blueberries
Method: Muddle ginger, add all ingredients, shake and double strain.

  • 50ml El Jimador Blanco tequila
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • Barspoon blueberry jam
  • Two barspoons of finely chopped ginger
  • 5ml blueberry syrup

Origin: Own creation

Fuego Manzana

Glass: Martini
Garnish: Chilli pepper
Method: Shake and double strain.

  • 2cm red chilli pepper, chopped
  • 5ml sugar syrup
  • 50ml Herradura Añejo tequila
  • 15ml fresh lime juice
  • 25ml cloudy apple juice
  • 15ml green apple liqueur

Origin: Danny Smith

Beet & Thyme Margarita

Glass: Martini
Garnish: Sprig of thyme
Method: Muddle beetroot, add all ingredients, shake and double strain.

  • 50ml Arette Blanco tequila
  • 1 baby beetroot, cooked and diced
  • 10ml sugar syrup
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Origin: Pier Paulo Dante

Surprise Me

Glass: Martini
Garnish: Lemongrass
Method: Muddle lemongrass, add all ingredients, shake and double strain.

  • 40ml Ocho Blanco tequila
  • 12.5ml Licor 43
  • 5ml agave syrup
  • 12.5ml lemon juice
  • Lemongrass

Origin: Henrique Figueiredo

Peppered Pineapple Punch

Glass: Martini
Garnish: Ground pepper and pineapple blade
Method: Muddle pineapple, slap and rip basil leaves, add all other ingredients, shake and double strain.

  • 50ml Herradura Reposado tequila
  • 15ml lime juice
  • 10ml sugar syrup
  • 25ml pineapple juice
  • 3 chunks of pineapple
  • 10 grinds of black pepper
  • 6 basil leaves

Origin: Captain Wozza

Morning Margarita

Glass: Old-Fashioned
Garnish: Grapefruit spiral
Method: Shake and single strain over cubed ice.

  • 50ml Gran Centenario Plata tequila
  • 10ml Cointreau
  • 25ml pink grapefruit juice
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 2 barspoons of orange marmalade
  • 5ml agave syrup

Origin: Margarita Rocks (see below)

  • I like to use a combination of lime juice and lemon juice as they work in different ways. The lime cuts through the tequila and marries the flavours of the other ingredients, while the lemon juice draws the strong earthy flavours of the tequila to the forefront.
  • It’s good to understand the taste profiles of individual tequilas. You can then add ingredients to draw out particular characteristics.
  • Always half salt the rim as it gives the customer the choice.
  • Some argue that a Margarita should not be double strained as it’s supposed to be a ‘rough drink’. I disagree. I’m keen to avoid the small flakes of ice that break off during shaking and will ultimately dilute the cocktail.


Margarita Rocks by Henry Besant & Andres Masso

This is a book for those who love Margaritas and for those who don’t yet know they love Margaritas. It is a succinct, smart and sassy ode to the queen of cocktails. Put together by two of the most respected exponents of the Margarita – Henry Besant and Andres Masso – it gets the ultimate stamp of approval in a foreword by tequila ambassadors Julio Bermejo and Tomas Estes. The book begins with a brief telling of the ‘story of tequila’, followed by an inventory of Margarita-making techniques and equipment. It then launches into an array of classic cocktails with a tequila twist: the Gin Bramble becomes a Scramble, while the Cosmopolitan becomes just plain Rude. A range of original cocktails is also included, divided into fresh and fruity, spicy and aromatic, and sweet indulgence. The cherry on top – or should I say the lime twist – is a flavour-mixing chart that highlights the versatility of tequila.

Available from from £5.99


The Home Bar

Some might say that bringing your work home with you is to be avoided, but for us bartenders it’s something to work towards. And on they’ve got home bars for every budget, ranging from a simple chrome-framed stand (£319) to mobile caddy bars (£2,495), bars that look like the bonnet of a car (£1,398) and even a completely over-the-top Victorian canopy bar – which at £6,747 will require a big budget, not to mention a humungous front room. On your precious days off you won’t have to go out at all – superb.

Editorial feature from Imbibe Magazine – September / October 2009

About Author

Since its launch in March 2007, Imbibe magazine has established itself as the UK’s leading publication for on-trade drinks professionals. Imbibe’s editorial coverage takes in all the main drinks categories, from wine to water, spirits to soft drinks.

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