Monday 18 September 2006

piña y menta

I think all those zany Mixologists in the northern hemisphere forgot about us southies when they developed this month’s Mixology Monday theme “Goodbye Summer”.

Hey guys, summer is just on it’s way for us!

I have decided to think of this theme as “Hello Summer” and I’m more than excited since I’ve recently plonked together a delicious drink – the Piña y Menta Fresca – which I plan to drink day-in day-out during this upcoming hot season.

I took a few bright green leaves from my tiny, long suffering mint bush and combined them with pineapple, lime, sugar and tequila. Add some star shaped ice cubes and Bobbito’s your uncle.

Simple but delicious!

Piña y Menta Fresca
Anna’s very own recipe. Makes 1.
1½ parts tequila resposado
½ lime juice
3 parts pineapple juice
1 teaspoon brown sugar
6 chunks fresh pineapple
2 mint leaves, shredded
1. Muddle pineapple, 1 shredded mint leaf and sugar in a shaker.
2. Add a little ice, lime juice, pineapple juice and tequila. Shake.
3. Pour into a tumbler with extra ice. Garnish with remaining shredded mint leaf.

When I suggest tequila to most people, the common reaction is “Oooohhh no, not tequila. I always feel sick from tequila. I got trashed on tequila too many times that I just can’t drink it anymore.” Or the second most popular reaction is “Tequila is disgusting”.

I just can’t relate to this. Tequila is probably my favourite spirit of all time.

When I was young I never got drunk on tequila. Fortunately for me I have no nauseous flash backs of university days, tequila slammers and self-inflicted overdoses.

I have also never drunk the common and potentially disgusting mainstream brands that turn most people off tequila for life.

My introduction to tequila came a few years ago when Roberto and Vicky brought a few prized bottles of the good stuff back with them after a trip home to Roberto’s family in Mexico. They allowed me to taste the different styles and qualities, and then whipped me up a few drinks so I could experience good tequila in action.

I was hooked.

When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico, the Aztecs were already making pulque, a type of beer made from the sap of the agave plant. The Spanish taught the Aztecs the art of distilling and the Aztecs started to make mescal.

Tequila is a superior form of mescal, having been distilled twice, and is subject to quality and production controls like most DOC liqueurs and wines.

Some tequilas mix sugar cane spirits but in order for a product to be called tequila, it must contain a minimum of 51% agave juice.

To make tequila, the leaves of the blue agave plant (which is actually not a cactus) are removed to leave the stem, heart or pina. This is steamed, chopped, pressed and then its juice fermented and distilled twice: first the same way as mescal and then a second time in a copper pot still. It is then matured in wood casks before bottling.

Like wine, the flavour of the tequila depends on the soil and climate where the agave grew (altering sugar and mineral levels). The production methods and processes also impact heavily on the flavour of the final product.

Tequila flavours range from earthy, sour, sweet, smoky and woody.

Joven / Blanco – bottled very quickly after distilling (aged less than 60 days), clear, sometimes golden, young flavour

Reposada – golden, aged in oak for 2-6 months, smoother flavour than blanco

Añejo – aged in oak for 12 months plus, rich golden colour

The agave juice is naturally very acidic, which is why tequila takes on a spicy, sour element. The addition of salt is said to enhance these natural attributes further.

In Mexico, where most foods contain significant levels of spice, tequila is an excellent accompaniment and is seen as a gastronomic drink as many European view fine wines or cognac.
Tequila absorbs flavours very easily and is a great spirit to use for flavoured liqueurs. Tequila blanco / joven can be combined with vanilla pods, cinnamon sticks, ginger, chilli, nuts and even fresh fruit to take on new and exciting attributes. This is known as tequila curados.

Tequila can be drunk in various ways: slammed with lime and salt, shaken as part of a margarita, mixed into a Tequila Sunrise or simply sipped along side a glass of sangrita.

Tequila is excellent paired with spicy and salty food and makes a great aperitif or beverage alongside a meal heavy with chilli or spice.

Be sure to check out the Mixology Monday VII recap at Paul's Cocktail Chronicles to see what summer sauce the northerners are bidding adieu and the southerners are welcoming in.



  1. It's been too long to even remember the last time i had tequila slammers.

  2. Great lookin' drink (despite no plastic monkay)...I bet some triple sec would be great in that too..maybe a splash?

  3. i'm led to believe pisco is going to be so hot this summer.


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