Savor the Summer with Tequila: recipes

Chef Oscar making Tequilajito - a signature drink at Hacienda Tres Rios

Chef Oscar making Tequilajito - a signature drink at Hacienda Tres Rios

It seems that everyone has a tequila story.

But, for a moment, let’s forget the salt and lime, forget the margaritas, and take tequila seriously. As seriously as you would a fine scotch. Yes? Yes.

We’ll get to the scotch comparison in a moment. I want to share with you all my Tequila discoveries from my recent trip to Mexico.

Tequila by Day
In the heat of day on Riviera Maya in Mexico, refreshment is the most important function of a beverage. And that’s what the Tequilajito offered.

I’m not a fan of the Mojito. I find it too sweet and undefined. But the Tequilajito, which is the creation of Chef Oscar at the Hacienda Tres Rios (who were my hosts for this trip), is fabulous. Mixing crushed basil leaves with brown sugar and grapefruit juice, it is full of interesting flavor. Here’s the recipe and how to make one. Take note, in the picture above, Oscar is making a dozen at once.

Rachelle of

Rachelle of


Lime – 2 1/3 ounzes

Basel – 8 leaves

Brown sugar – 3 tablespoons

Tequila – 1 1/2 ounces

Fresca or grapefruit soda

I watched Chef Oscar make the drinks. Crush the basil leaves into the lime juice, mix in the brown sugar, add the Tequila and then the Fresca and you’re done.

I highly recommend them!

Tequila by Night
The next evening, we were encouraged to expand our understanding of Tequila at a proper tasting. There was no lime or salt involved but there was a lot of Tequila. A lot. We tasted at least 10 types starting with the young and harsh moving toward the mature and smooth.

Like Champagne, Tequilla cannot be made by just anyone.

Set up for the Tequilla Tasting

Set up for the Tequila Tasting

There are 355 Tequila producers in Mexico and they make over 1000 kinds of Tequila. Just as there are different production methods there are also taste and color differences.


We were first taught how to taste and appreciate Tequila. The Tequila does not burn when you follow these steps:

  • Pour a small amount – 1 to 1 1/2 ounces – into wine glass or snifter.
  • Swirl the Tequila in your glass to open the scent.
  • Hold your glass to the light to look at the color. Clear? Amber?
  • Rotate again, circling the Tequila high in the glass then hold it still to see how long it takes for the Tequila to fall back into the glass. As with wine tasting, you’re watching for how long it takes the legs to form which is an indicator of the sugar content.
  • Sniff the Tequila with your nose about an inch from the glass so you’re aren’t overwhelmed by the alcohol.
  • Take a deep breath.
  • Swallow the Tequila.
  • Breathe out.
  • Notice how the flavor affects different areas of your mouth.

Without doubt, by the time we tasted the high end Tequilas, I was enjoying a fine spirit as good as single malt scotch.

Cleansing the Palate with the Sangrita
While we didn’t use this typical drink for cleansing the palate at Tequila tastings between each one we tried, we did get to experience the refreshing Sangrita. This recipe makes one litre:

  • 400 ml Orange juice
  • 400 ml tomato juice
  • 50 ml Lemon juice
  • 30 ml Grenadine syrup
  • 20 ml Worcestershire sauce, Maggi and Tabasco hot sauce
  • Sale & Pepper to taste

Mix together and serve cold. Lasts in fridge 3-4 days.

  • Scott

    Got me thinkin’ tequila again 😉 . . . tequila is now very much like wine . . . the reposado’s and anejo’s – both aged in oak, so, why shouldn’t pick up some of the traits associated in the past with wine only. There are also tequilas that just run hot . . . for me, when I drank :) , I tended toward Herradura and a very few of the Cuervo Anejo’s – my Favorite being Riserva de la Familia . . . some, in my mind (and mouth) just run a little “hot” – whether they be reposado’s or anejo’s . . . I remember the first time I sat down – thoughtfully – with Riserva de la Familia . . . when I got hints of oak and vanilla, I knew this wasn’t “my daddy’s tequila” :)

  • Gina

    Going to have to try these recipes! I was just in the Riviera Maya a couple weeks ago and tried a Tequila, vodka, and jalapeno martini. It was intense! These tequila recipes sound much nicer for my tastebuds. :)

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  • solotraveler

    Such enthusiasm!!! Big thanks.

  • Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    One of my most favorite drinks I’ve EVER tasted. It’s even better when Chef Oscar personally makes it :)

  • Scott Hartman

    Oooooooh tequila . . . don’t even get me started . . . Ooops, too late :) If it’s possible to love a liquid, then tequila is It! I spent a vacation in the town of Tequila, Mexico(Yes!, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus) (outside of Guadalajara) . . . tequila is soooooo much more than Cuervo Gold, which is, in fact, not “real” tequila . . . there’s a bar/restaurant in San Francisco, up on Geary, called Tommy’s . . . Tequila at the bar, ONLY. They sell “shots” too, most range from $7 – $15, though there is a shot of Chinaco Black that goes for $350. They do sell Cuervo Gold at the bar, for $15 a shot (you can almost buy a bottle for that much), so you ask the bar tender why so much for Cuervo Gold? “If you’re stupid enough to think that Cuervo Gold is tequila, you’re stupid enough to pay $15 for it.” :) My All-Time Favorite – either Cuervo Riserva de la Familia or Herradura Anejo. Both smoky, with hints of vanilla (from cask aging in oak barrels). I also cook a mean tequila-marinated tri-tip . . . Oh, and those tequilas I mentioned are Absolutely sipping tequilas . . . not shot glass, and Heaven Forbid – No salt . . . a brandy snifter shows their range much better. Salud!

  • Rebecca

    My fave is now La Pinta, a pomegranate infused tequila. Can’t get it in Colorado, though-have to ship it in from Cali.

  • Kirsten

    My favorite way to drink tequila is straight out of the bottle, on a beach, in Mexico, at night. Shared with a friend, or more than a friend.

  • solotraveler

    Mmmm. Do you have a recipe for orange margaritas? I’ve never had one.

  • Pamela Wright

    Favorite tequila???

    Orange Margaritas. Unbelievably good.

    I also like to sip tequila and enjoy the flavor.

  • Craig Zabransky

    Great to see the Sangrita recipe too. Every place makes it different…if not different every time…but the one at HTR is (was :) quite good.

    stay adventurous, Craig

  • BigJohnBen

    I never knew there was a technique for savouring tequila. I normally just chuck it down my neck!

  • Abi

    “Take a deep breath” – a necessary part of drinking tequila, whichever way you do it!

  • Heidi Reyes

    Interesting! My dad, who is Mexican, prefers to drink his tequila straight. I prefer mezcal over tequila. I like the smoky flavor it has. Thanks for posting this!

  • lee

    great way to chill this summer