As I write this, I am sitting on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (well not really...I'm in the patio of our condo, where I can pick up a wifi signal). I was trying to come up with an article for this week, that had something to do with a quick getaway from my mountain home. Mexico is known for its' strong tequila, mezcal, and range of beers. Certainly we've all seen the Corona and Dos Equis commercials, and I've had a few already down here (not too much on the wine front in this part of Mexico, but we did go to a wine tasting on Monday, that was not very good...put on by the Tianguis Turistico). While Mexico certainly does make these beverages, it doesn't do justice to the sophistication of some of the tequilas or beers being produced. I will admit that Mezcal is still shaking off its "bad boy" reputation.
A year ago, I wrote an article about Tequila, and my trip to the Agave fields of Mexico. I've also written about the process used to make spirits, so I thought I'd take a look at some of my favorite "umbrella drinks"...you know, those drinks you only have when you are on vacation at the beach.
Obviously the first drink that comes to mind when in Mexico is a Margarita. There is a good recap of the history (maybe) of the Margarita at the Cactus Club website, however, I have also heard that the Margarita was created at Hussongs Cantina in Ensanada, Mexico. The best I can tell, the authentic recipe is pretty simple: Rub the rim of the glass with the lime slice to make the salt stick to it. Shake together ingredients (7 parts Tequila, 4 parts Cointreau, 3 parts lime juice) with ice, then carefully pour into the glass (taking care not to dislodge any salt). Garnish and serve over ice.
The classic umbrella drink while on a tropical vacation is the Pina Colada. The history of the Pina Colada appears to start in Puerto Rico. Here is a link to a good recap of the history. The recipe for a good Pina Colada is to pour 1.5 oz. rum, 2 oz. cream of coconut and 2 oz pineapple juice into a blender with one cup of crushed ice. Blend until smooth, and pour into a collins glass. Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a maraschino cherry, and of course an umbrella.
A similar drink to a Pina Colada is the Chi-chi. I can't find much history on the Chi-chi, other than it was a take off of the Pina Colada, but made with Vodka, even though there are a few more ingredients in the "authentic" recipes I uncovered....Put in a shaker that is filled with 50% ice: 3 parts Vodka, 5 parts pineapple juice, 2 parts Crème de Cacao, 1 tsp, grenadine syrup, and the juice of one lemon. Shake, and pour into a tall glass.
One of the oldest beach cocktails, appears to be the Daiquiri. History suggests that it was created in Cuba around 1901. The most authentic recipe I can find says to combine 2oz white rum, 1oz fresh lime juice and 1/2 oz simple syrup in shaker with ice and shake well. Pour drink in a chilled cocktail or martini glass and garnish with a lime wedge or mint leaf.
I always thought that the Mai-tai was an authentic Hawaiian drink, but according to history buffs... it looks like it was a California creation. Since some of the rums originally listed for making an authentic Mai-tai are not available anymore, here is the best/closest authentic recipe I could find: Hand shake all of the ingredients (1oz Jamaican rum, 1oz Martinique rum, 1/2oz orange Curacao, 1/2oz almond syrup, 1/4oz simple syrup, and the juice of one lime) briskly with crushed ice for at least 20 seconds. Serve the Mai Tai in a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish your Mai Tai cocktail with a fresh mint sprig.
Yeah, I know, these are the drinks the tourists drink. But, when you are walking around the mercado, and talking with the street vendors, there is always someone selling the traditional cold drinks of Mexico from carts on the streets. We have stopped for some coconut water, but didn't try the Juino Tuba (a fermented drink made from palm tree sap). The most famous are Horchata (made with rice, almonds, cinnamon, and sugar), Licuados (various fruits mixed with orange juice or milk then mixed in a blender), and Aguas Frescas (made with fruit and water and again. blended). Luckily, I'm one of those people with an "iron stomach" so I will dare to eat and drink anything. So far so good!