Being in the mood for something different, I discovered this drink when I was looking through my trusty Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide for a new tequila cocktail. The jalapeño immediately caught my eye since I’d had my fill of sweet and bitter cocktails for the time being – something spicy would be just what the doctor ordered.
The Amante Picante (literally translates to “Spicy Lover”) is just perfect to cut the flavours between your staple Old Fashioned or Summertime Mint Julep. The classic Mexican combination of cilantro and lime is right at home with a good tequila. Add a savoury and understated cucumber flavour with a bit of simple syrup to smooth everything out. Finally, the notable kick of the jalapeño sauce brings the whole cocktail home and leaves a pleasant spicy aftertaste. This won’t be something that you want to drink exclusively, but once you’ve overdone the sweet drinks, this is going to be the perfect remedy. Here’s the original recipe:
The Amante Picante
2 oz tequila blanco
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
2 dashes jalapeño hot pepper sauce (see below for hot sauce notes)
3 cucumber slices
2 cilantro sprigs
Kosher salt (optional)
Optionally rim a chilled martini glass with kosher salt. Muddle two of the cucumber slices and the cilantro sprigs in a shaker glass. Add ice, tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, and hot sauce then shake well. Double strain (use your shaker’s strainer and pour through another sieve-style strainer) the resulting drink into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with the remaining cucumber slice.
Eagle-eyed readers have noticed from the pictures that I chose to use my current favourite, Don Julio’s Tequila Reposado, even though the original recipe calls for a tequila blanco. Really, this cocktail works with any type of tequila, but I thought I’d shed a bit of light on the differences. This topic certainly deserves a post of its own, but here they are in the meantime:
Tequila Blanco (translates to White, but also sometimes referred to as Silver Tequila): Tequila that has been distilled and bottled immediately, leaving it with a clear colour (which sort of explains the name “white”).
Tequila Oro (translates to Gold Tequila): This is simply tequila blanco that has had caramel and other additives added to it so as to make it appear aged.
Tequila Reposado (literally translates to “restful”, but means Aged Tequila): Unlike tequila oro, this is blanco that has actually been aged in oak barrels for up to one year.
Tequila Añejo (translates to Old Tequila): Usually the most expensive tequila you can buy, this is blanco that has been aged in oak barrels for a minimum of one year, but usually longer.
A Note about Hot Sauces
Once more you may have noticed that I’ve been a bad boy and I deviated from the standard recipe with my hot sauce as well, using Cholula instead of Jalapeño. I was looking for something a bit less spicy in this case, but I still wanted to stick to the Mexican flavour profile, so Cholula was my pick! That being said, you should feel free to experiment with any hot sauce you want, while keeping in mind that each sauce also has it’s own distinct flavour on top of it’s spiciness level. Here are a few popular sauces that I’ve tried and liked, ranked from most to least spicy by their Scoville Scale Rating. Adjust the amounts you use accordingly:
No matter which type of tequila or hot sauce you decide to use, you’re in for something that’s probably going to be very different than what you’re used to, but there are few things better than trying something new and finding a whole new category of cocktail flavours that you enjoy.
One final tip! Next time that you’re at a resort down south or on a cruise, befriend a bartender and ask them about these ingredients. Chances are, if they like you (read: if you tip well), they’ll be able to put this together for you to give you some relief from the all the slushy/sugary drinks you’re used to having on vacation.
Let me know in the comments if you end up trying this with any other sauces I haven’t mentioned and how that worked out – I’ve had my eye on some piri piri for a little while now.