Hugely versatile, earthy and complex – it’s often assumed tequila is only enjoyable neat or as part of a traditional cocktail, like a margarita or paloma. But, when swapped in for other base spirits, the agave can bring a depth and new lease of life to familiar or overused recipes.

As Don Julio Brand Ambassador and owner of London’s dedicated agave bar, Deano Montcrieffe is of a certain disposition. Today, Deano shares some thoughts on the category and some of his favourite riffs on classic recipes.

A LIFE OF AGAVE

I’ve been specialising in agave spirits and tequila for over 10 years now and, as a bar owner and brand ambassador, I really believe tequila is the most versatile category out there.

Over the course of my career, I have had a strong desire to do something new and unique with agave spirits and tequila. I think the real drive has been from wanting to offer customers something new and exciting that will challenge their perception of tequila and really showcase the drink’s unique flavours. Classic cocktail riffs are a great vehicle to achieve this, as they hold some level of familiarity with most people and a fun way to introduce new folks to the story of tequila.

In my east London Agave bar, Hacha, (named after the axe that distillery workers use to cut the agave piñas into pieces before they’re roasted), we have several alternative tequila-inspired drinks including a Mezcal spritz, Mexican highball and a twist on an espresso martini (based on a Don Julio Batanga).

These riffs aren’t just about twisting classic recipes for the sake of it, but, more so, it’s where the quality flavours of tequila can enhance a recipe and make the drink more accessible. Additionally, the familiar grouping of flavours in classic recipes really showcases the unfamiliar component – in this case, tequila - and allows it to shine.

DON’T MESS WITH THE NEGRONI

As the European Don Julio Brand Ambassador, I was recently tasked with creating a new signature serve for Don Julio 70 (launching in Europe this year).

Immediately, I saw this as an opportunity to play with the anatomy of a classic cocktail and chose the classic Negroni as my vehicle. The result, calling for Don Julio in place of gin, gave a fresh, lighter twist on the classic with subtle vegetal notes. It went down so well it forced me to add it to my (already complete) menu and something else had to make way.

Launched in Mexico and the US in 2011, Don Julio 70 is the world’s first clear Anejo. It’s aged for 18 months and then undergoes a special filtration process. This removes the colour from the liquid, but retains the complexity of an aged sprit, making it a great fit for a Negroni.

Luxury tequila is growing at steady rates globally year on year, so it’s really evident that customers are willing to explore all the versatility that comes with tequila. It’s a great category to be part of and, the fact that Mexican culture is becoming more prevalent in global societies outside Latin America - and with the impactful of its design, hospitality and leisure - there is a lot connected to Tequila that will only see it continue to rise up the popularity stakes.

CLASSIC COCKTAILS WITH TEQUILA

If this has inspired you to twist things up with tequila, here’s a few recipes we’ve worked on at the bar to get started with.

This includes a Reposado Spritz, a white Negroni and a Casamigos Old Fashioned. Try them for yourself and get experimenting with tequila to discover the strength, subtlety and versatility of this amazing spirit. Invite customers to try something more adventurous and taste the unexpected!

CASA REPO SPRITZ

Casamigos Reposado has a silky texture that’s filled with cocoa, caramels and wood notes. These dense textures are carried by the bubbles, putting more length in the drink and setting it up to be a summer classic.

RECIPE

METHOD

(Alcohol content: 17.62g per serve)

DON JULIO 70 WHITE NEGRONI

A bartender’s favourite, the Negroni is a surefire classic and for good reason. This modern twist on the recipe honours the blueprint and bitterness of a Negroni, but tags in Tequila for more vegetal, earthy notes to make a short sipper that’s complex and layered.

RECIPE

METHOD

(Alcohol content: 18g per serve)

CASAMIGOS ANEJO OLD FASHIONED

The Old Fashioned goes south in this great recipe to showcase the qualities of an anejo tequila. A vanilla sweetness lifts the soft caramels and barrel spices of Casamigos Anejo in this cocktail that’ll make your whisky recipe look a bit old fashioned.

KEY TAKEAWAYS


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