SG + SHG Gift
It's seis de Mayo, and if you aren't recovering from a tequila hangover, or have already completed your recovery and are ready for more, then I have another tequila cocktail for you. In fact, I'm flirting with the idea of keeping it tequila for the entire month of May, as my way of paying tribute to the country that has given us so much (tequila, Mexican food, lucha libre, Swine Flu). Besides, I've neglected the Angel of Agave for much too long and it is proper time to give props.

Tequila is made from the fermented nectar of the Agave plant which grows naturally in certain regions of Mexico. Premium tequilas are made from 100% Agave and the bottles will often denote such, but lesser forms have other types of fermented sugars mixed in. After distillation the tequila is either bottled with minimal aging (less than 3 months) and sold while still in its clear form (called "blanco," "plata," or "silver") or it is set aside in barrels to age, where it attains a darker color and smoother flavor. The most common types of aged tequila are "reposado" (aged anywhere between two months and a year) and "anejo" (aged anywhere from one to three years). Jose Cuervo Gold is a notable exception, which despite not being aged, manages to attain a color that both looks and tastes like hot buttered piss, because of the addition of God-knows-what (probably hot buttered piss).

As the title indicates, today's cocktail is called La Rosita, created by Robert Hess of Drinkboy for the legendary Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle. I chose this cocktail because it deviates from the standard trifecta of sugar, lime, and salt that has become the fallback for tequila drinks and instead incorporates vermouth and Campari--ingredients which don't often find themselves in the same company as tequila. This drink is essentially a tequila-based spin on the Negroni--and of course I am a fan of the Negroni. I did however make a few minor adjustments that I found preferable, by decreasing the tequila (from 1.5 oz to 1 oz), increasing the Campari (.5 oz to 1 oz), and adding a dash of bitters.

La Rosita
1 oz tequila
1 oz Campari
.5 oz sweet vermouth
.5 oz dry vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters
orange twist for garnish

Tools: bar spoon, mixing glass, strainer

Glass: chilled coupe (pictured) or cocktail glass

Fill mixing glass (essentially a pint glass) with ice plus all liquid ingredients. Stir briskly for about 20 seconds (make sure not to overly aerate the drink while stirring) and strain into chilled glass. Twist orange peel over drink to release oils and drop into drink.

On paper the ingredients appear like an unlikely combination when paired with tequila, but the bitter orange notes in Campari are a thoughtful and surprising accent to citrus-friendly tequila. I also enjoy the drink much more with a dash of the Angostura than without it.

As far as tequilas go, it certainly should go without saying that you only need consider those made from 100% Agave. For this drink I prefer a silver tequila, though you can certainly use a reposado if you wish. I don't particularly recommend an anejo in this cocktail, as it would tend to overpower even the strong flavor of Campari. I used Herradura silver because it is smooth yet has a sweet pungency that stands up to Campari.

And one final word regarding vermouths: a good quality vermouth makes a huge difference in drinks such as this which have only a few ingredients. If you can find the Dolin brand of vermouths in your area, I highly recommend it for both the sweet and dry vermouths. If not, Carpano Antica is also great for your sweet (red) and Noilly Pratt will suit for your dry (white). Either way, please throw out the Martini and Rossi until they decide to come out with a better product.

Feliz seis de Mayo! Salud!

Come back every Wednesday for Paystyle's weekly Happy Hour column.

Photography by Vanessa Bahmani
Column: Happy Hour


  • I also hear that Alembic makes a kickass Mint Julep (per last week’s HAPPY HOUR). Gotta get there stat.

    kayoko on

  • adivivelerock – If you’ll be at Alembic, you should also try the Vieux Carre if they still offer it. The name translates to “Old Square,” which is what some call the French Quarter in N’Orleans, and it’s basically a Sazerac meets a Manhattan.

    Paystyle on

  • Oh, this looks so good. I believe Alembic in San Francisco makes this cocktail well, so good thing I might be dropping in this weekend

    adivivelerock on

  • Which reminds me, SF Cocktail Week starts on Monday!!!

    kayoko on

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published