How to Make Mexican Cocktails Without Tequila

Mercadito tequila-free cocktailNecessity is the mother of invention. That, at least, is what I hear from the Tippling Bros., Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay, who were brought on to solve a problem at NYC’s Mercadito, and did so cunningly, if we can judge solely by the menu. Without a liquor license in place, they needed a way to craft a Mexican-inspired cocktail list using lower-proof products. Let them explain: “Realizing that certain high-proofed saké would create the perfect base, we started breaking down the general flavor and aroma profiles of our favorite tequilas. We then spent a couple of months creating tinctures to replicate these individual profiles, using everything from fresh and dried herbs to fruit peels, spices and chiles, and then began adding them together until we came up with the 'magic' formula. We're going to become parfumiers in our next venture.”

The results, based on tinctures and saké (Tanguay once worked as a saké sommelier), read with great curiosity: Mentirosas, made with “tric-quila,” include such ingredients as orange flower essence, epazote, morita chile and papalo, all part of the effort to imbue Mexican herbality and pungency often found in tequilas. I haven’t sampled these drinks yet, but like the direction the two took here. Bitter greens were once the stuff of poor folk, as was monkfish (“poor man’s lobster"), innards and, until recently, tequila itself. Good for the tipplers for turning lemons into lemonade.

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