To accompany our 6-week long series on mixology and the art of tending bar, each of our featured guests has created a special summer cocktail just for our readers. Let’s face it: Milwaukee has a (well deserved) boozy reputation, and more often than not the typical Friday night plan is to get, uh, messed up. No judgment, naturally, but then again all things in moderation. Much like enjoying a fine meal, imbibing a good beverage should take time.
But you don’t always have to go to a specialty lounge to have a well-rounded craft cocktail. Check back each Friday for new recipes and ideas to mix up your normal happy hour routine. Maybe you can even impress your friends with your new skills behind the bar! This week’s recipe comes from Daniel Dufek of the Hi-Hat Lounge, offering “El Vencedor,” a fragrant and spicy variation on the the classic Margarita.
1.5 oz cilantro/jalapeno-infused Milagro silver (see recipe below)
.75 oz Senior orange curacao
.5 oz Sombra mezcal
.5 oz St. Germain
.75 oz fresh lime juice
.25 oz simple syrup
2 dashes Bitter Truth grapefruit bitters
Cilantro sprig for garnish
Build all ingredients in a pint glass without ice. Add ice. Shake well. Strain over ice in a collins glass. Garnish with cilantro sprig.
Cilantro/jalapeño infusion recipe
1 liter Milagro silver tequila
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeño, halved, seeds removed
*Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive container for 24 hours. Agitate every few hours. Strain cilantro and jalapeno from the infusion through a cheesecloth.
The name is Spanish for “conqueror,” in the same vein as “conquistador.” I basically just researched cilantro a little bit, since that’s one of the main flavors in the drink. I found out that cilantro/coriander was brought to Mexico by the conquistadors, thought it was a cool name, but realized it was taken, and went with Vencedor instead, which I actually like better.
Was the recipe inspired by a traditional cocktail?
The drink is really just a variation on a margarita. I’ve been making margaritas with a bit of mescal for a while now, and really enjoy the smoky finish of it. Then I started making them with the cilantro/jalapeno-infused tequila, which we use for one of our specialty cocktails at Hi-Hat. The last thing I added was the St. Germain. It really rounds the drink out and tones down the heat from the jalapeno and the smokiness of the mescal, which I think makes it a bit more accessible to someone who wouldn’t necessarily go for a spicy tequila. For someone who really enjoys tequila and likes a little spice, I’d probably make it without the St. Germain. That said, though, I really like the way that the mescal and St. Germain interact, and I’m working on a drink right now based on those as the two main flavors.(Sorry that was so long-winded.)
In general, I think tequila is very summery. Along with gin and rum, it’s one of the spirits that people really associate with warm weather and tropical places. A margarita is really a perfect summer drink, balancing citrus with just enough sweetness. It’s meant to be drank out in the sun.
What’s your personal beverage of choice?
It varies depending on mood and season, but generally I gravitate towards gin or bourbon. A Vesper Martini made with a quality gin is about as good as it gets for me in summer. The rest of the year it’d be a rye or bourbon Manhattan with a nice vermouth.