Thursday, March 24, 2016

El Centro's Red and Smokey

What an amazing drink. You won't find the Red and Smokey in any bartender's guide--it's a restaurant original. The thing about tequilerias like El Centro is that they have so many tequilas and mescals that they don't need any other spirits to produce varieties of flavors. They have to be especially inventive with their cocktails, though, because it is easy to have a cocktail menu made up entirely of margaritas.

The Red and Smokey is the antidote to this problem. It's deep and syrupy and full of hibiscus flavor with a smokey burn and prickle on the sides of the tongue. It can be an easy slurping straw pint and full-bodied slow sipper at the same time, both refreshing and strong! There's just one catch: you have to do a lot of prep with some strange ingredients.

It is sweetened by chili ginger simple syrup. This is made by blending fresh ginger and chili powder and soaking it in boiling water for a while before straining out the solids. This will infuse the chili and ginger spice flavors without making it lumpy. Add sugar and stir to make a solution. Do this the same way I made my raspberry syrup.

Then you need to make the hibiscus puree--which is a simple matter of blending dried hibiscus flowers in water until fine. Strain it to remove the solids. (I haven't done this, but this is how I am told they do it at El Centro, and it sounds easy as long as you start with a little water--less than 50 percent to the amount of flowers).

Once you have the hibiscus puree and the chili and ginger syrup, you are ready for mixing.
  • 1 1/2 oz. El Silencio Mescal
  • 1/2 oz. chili ginger simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz. hibiscus puree
  • 1 oz. lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour into a highball glass.

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