From Kitchen to Cocktail

Chantico Margarita

It’s no surprise that, when seeking the perfect summer fruit to inspire his entry in the third annual Lake Las Vegas Margarita competition, Rob Crawford reached for peach.

The Washington, D.C., native began his career in the kitchen at 15, apprenticed with French chef Michel Richard and later graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., before he ever became the digital activation manager at Wirtz Beverage Nevada.

“Being able to apply my culinary and unique creativity toward flavor combinations and taste make mixology a perfect fit,” Crawford says. “I pride myself in truly understanding the ingredients I work with. Plus spirits, wine and beer fascinate me.” Crawford’s Chantico Margarita—named for the Aztec goddess of volcanoes and the family hearth—took first place in the Labor Day weekend competition, which featured Jose Cuervo Tradicional reposado and silver tequilas and benefited Aid For AIDS of Nevada.

“Fresh, flavorful, balanced and executable” are the four pillars of Crawford’s cocktail philosophy.

“I think the general consumer is scared to make a drink from scratch,” Crawford says. “But it’s really not difficult.” His advice: “Just grab some fresh fruits or veggies and make sure you have a good balance.” Acid can be any citrus or acidic juice. “Try using jams and preserves as the sweetener, and always keep some simple syrup on hand to balance it, if necessary.”

In a cocktail shaker, combine 1½ ounces Jose Cuervo Tradicional silver tequila, ½ ounce DeKuyper peach schnapps, ¼ ounce Los Nahuales mezcal, 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, ¾ ounce house-made vanilla bean-infused simple syrup (4 ounces sugar, 4 ounces water, 1 chopped vanilla bean pod, 1 tablespoon dried chopped orange peel; boil, simmer 20 minutes, cool and strain) and 1 ounce fresh peach purée (or Perfect Purée of Napa Valley; Shake over ice and strain over fresh ice into a highball glass. Garnish with fresh lime and peach slices.