Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

El Colibrí

Here is an easy tequila cocktail that features honey and liqueur. We like a good tequila recipe, but if we are honest, it is not the first base spirit we think about when the clock strikes five. When a simple recipe comes along that encourages us to explore the cabinet inventory a bit too, we take notice. We also appreciate a drink that uses honey. The floral aspects always elevate—and what could be more appropriate than that? The name of this drink is Spanish for hummingbird, after all.

It is such a great name for a cocktail, we figure there must be a reason. Created by Vince Lund of Beretta in San Francisco, we found the cocktail some years ago in The American Cocktail Book by Imbibe Magazine. Inspired by local apiaries and the flavor of raw, organic honey, the name is a nod to the tiny bird which, like bees, also collects nectar from the flowers it frequents. We like to think that it may also be a reference to the sound they make since, after a few of these you too will be buzzing.

El Colibrí
2 oz reposado tequila
1.5 lemon
.75 ounce 2:1 honey mix
.5 creme de cassis

Shake with ice. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Reposado means “rested”, referring to the fact that this is an aged spirit. For the bottle to bear reposado on the label the tequila must be barrel aged for up to a year, whereas añejo tequila has rested for at least that long. In any case, we are starting with an aged spirit which is always a good thing, as this brings color and flavors from the barrel.

The honey is a 2:1 mix with water—an important step because honey has problems dissolving in cocktails on its own. Adding a little water helps the process—otherwise, you would have a cold glob stuck in your shaker after you pour and the balance will be all out of whack. Many recipes that call for honey use a 1:1 ratio, probably because it is just easier to combine equal proportions, but some bartenders like 3:1. The rich mix used here helps to emphasize floral notes especially with honey made from orange blossom or wildflowers.

The cassis liqueur is blackcurrant which pairs surprisingly well with good honey. Blackcurrant has a floral nuance reminiscent of violets that differentiates it from blackberry. If you have ever had dried currants in a salad for example, you can detect some of those flavors in the liqueur. Yet, in the cocktail, it builds upon the character of the honey without overwhelming the balance. Sweetness is kept in check given the full ounce and a half of lemon. Unless you over shake this drink or let the ice melt too long before straining, all of that acid will help make this cocktail a little tart which is just what you want with a robust agave spirit. Shaking and double-straining will leave a thin layer of bubbles swirling on the surface (thanks to the honey) and a wide lemon peel garnish ensures an aromatic effect for a cocktail that is lovely and refreshing—perfect for summer.

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