El Pepino

As served at Munchbar, Caesars Palace, $10

Despite the idea being to taste the tequila straight, Vegas-based Milagro brand ambassador Gaston Martinez wasn’t having it. For him, last month’s Spirits of Mexico festival in San Diego was a chance to not only show off the Milagro tequila portfolio (blanco, reposado and añejo) but also to show off Milagro’s incredible mixability in cocktails such as the Freshest Margarita and El Pepino.

Martinez, who has an extensive culinary background, has long been amazed that more bars don’t take advantage of the array of flavors available to them from their respective kitchens. So he decided to concentrate on “culinary cocktails,” that is, cocktails that pair well with food and have culinary ingredients in them. “This is a great one that not only pairs well with fresh Mexican food but also with shellfish and sushi,” Martinez says. “It is also a great poolside refreshment.”

“You definitely need to like spice to like this one,” he says of El Pepino’s jalapeño kick. “But the freshness of this cocktail appeals to all people.” Also, while Martinez prepares his El Pepino without it, at Munchbar, bartenders add a bit of Combier Triple Sec orange liqueur. Like all things, it’s just a matter of taste.

  • 2 ounces Milagro Blanco tequila
  • ¾ ounce Combier Triple Sec orange liqueur
  • 2 ounces fresh margarita mix (1 part freshly squeezed lime juice, ¾ part agave nectar, ¼ part water)
  • 4 slices fresh cucumber, plus one for garnish
  • 1 sprig fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 small jalapeño, sliced

Muddle cucumbers, herbs and jalapeño slices. Add remaining ingredients. Shake with ice and double-strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a cucumber slice and fresh cilantro sprig.

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