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Corzo Basilica Mexicana – A Peppery Cocktail

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Despite the heat of the desert, summer is my favorite season of refreshment. Part of the reason is that summer lends itself to parties, and thus occasions to enjoy drinks with friends. While beer is always going to be my alcoholic drink of choice, I am not averse to other drinks. I make efforts not to be a beer snob, to avoid any kind of prejudice or elitism. Indeed, appreciating the wide range of alcoholic beverages available seems to be the mark of a cosmopolitan person.

Yeah, whatever, I like to drink.

On the long weekend a couple of weeks ago, the Memorial Day weekend, I was able to hold a little soiree where my friends and I consumed outstanding examples of fine craft brew (no mass-market swill allowed at our parties). And right after beer on my list of drinks is tequila. So in addition to our beer, we tried a cocktail from cocktail consultant and bartender Jonathan Pogash. It's made with Corzo tequila and jalapenos, among other things. It was the jalapenos that initially intrigued me about this drink. No, it was the tequila. No, it was the jalapenos. Whatever. I'm glad I tried it. Forgive me, Bernard DeVoto.

Here's the recipe:

Corzo Basilica Mexicana

* 1 1/2 parts Corzo Reposado Tequila
* 1/2 part Green Chartreuse
* 1/4 part Agave Nectar
* 1 thin slice jalapeno pepper
* 1/2 part fresh lime juice
* 3 large basil leaves

Process: In a mixing glass, muddle the pepper and basil in the agave nectar and lime juice. Add remaining ingredients and shake well with ice. Strain over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish: basil leaf “flag” and jalapeno pepper.

Now, my best friend is not one who eats things that are green. No vegetables, etc. This drink has a distinctly vegetal smell due to the jalapenos. I wasn't sure how he'd react. But it had tequila in it and he is a fan of that, so he tried it. He basically said afterward, "If you keep giving me drinks like that I may start liking jalapenos." So thank you, Corzo and Jonathan. We may have a new convert in the works.

I made the drink more specifically for my wife. She loved it (because I made it for her, of course) and proclaimed that it should replace the hot toddy. Another attendee at the party had the same opinion. It's a hot drink, to be sure (maybe I overdid the jalapeno, it's not important). And so this cocktail clears the sinuses and feels good on the throat. The confluence of agave nectar, lime juice, and jalapeno is quite impressive, spicy but not overpowering, with a sweet hint of a cocktail behind the fire.

Now, I have to be honest here. I loved the drink as we had it, but I didn't strictly adhere to the recipe. Green chartreuse is called for, you see. It sounds like a magical liqueur but it's $32.99 for a small bottle and, well, at the time I just didn't have that kind of money to spend on that bottle. I'm sorry Jonathan. There was just too much else going on for my kids. From what I've read about this chartreuse stuff, though, I'm certain it will add an enigmatic character to this drink.

The Corzo tequila itself is quite good. First, a few notes about tequila if you're not familiar with the drink. Some tequila is made from 100% agave (this is good!). If this is the case, it will say so. If it's a tequila, or a mixto tequila, the drink is fifty-one percent agave sugar and forty-nine percent other sugars. Then there is the aging category. Here are the two best tequila categories to purchase:  reposado, which refers to a tequila aged at least two months, but not longer than twelve; if it goes twelve months or more it is referred to as anejoClick here for some more information on tequila. 

We tried the Corzo Reposado by itself since we do all like tequila and the response was favorable. It has a very even flavor, not too harsh, not fiery and a good nose. I've been drinking a lot of Don Julio anejo and Cazadores reposado of late and Corzo fits well with them. It is a tequila I will seek out.

Enjoy summer!

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