I had my first Paloma in 1999 in Guadalajara during a trip to Jalisco to visit the Herradura distillery. We were staying at the beautiful Hotel Quinta Real Guadalajara, but everywhere we went, either for a meal or just drinks, it seemed folks were drinking Palomas.
Not only was it a delicious and refreshing libation, but there also appeared to be a wonderful ritual surrounding the preparation. A group would be served glasses with ice, a bowl of limes cut into quarters, sea salt, bottles of Squirt grapefruit soda and a bottle of tequila—which always seemed to be reposado. Each guest would then mix their own Paloma; making it perhaps the original version of the bottle service now common in Las Vegas nightclubs.
Reposado is the most popular category of tequila in Mexico, although it still seems to struggle for the same recognition here in the U.S. Reposado is the beautiful marriage of agave softened by the influence of oak, as it is required by law to be aged or “rested” for a minimum of two months to one year in any size oak container. According to my dear friend Julio Bermejo, “Tequila from the Lowlands of Jalisco are earthy when young and oaky when aged; whereas tequila coming from the Highlands are fruity and spicy.”
All of the following 100% agave tequilas share the similar thread provided by the terroir that contributes to the Highland Reposado style, yet each features their own individual characteristics which make them unique. And they all make a wonderful Paloma!
Nose: Tree fruits—apple and pear, citrus—lemon and bitter orange, cinnamon spice, oak and freshly cut grass.
Palette: Caramel, honey, buttercream and dark chocolate, with toasty oak giving way to a touch of cinnamon and black pepper spice. Nice acidity with a medium to long finish with a slight nod of smoke and dried fruits.
Nose: Very complex nose, bright citrus with hints of white pepper spice, light vanilla, ripe apricot, toasted nuts and slight green bell pepper.
Palette: Big agave flavor, with toasty oak and spiced notes of pepper, along with vegetal green bell and jalapeno peppers. Nice acidity with a long finish, ending with a touch of butterscotch sweetness.
Nose: Grassy and spice, soft nose with some peppery hints, toasty oak, caramel, ground nutmeg and allspice.
Palette: Intense agave flavor supporting flavors of cream soda and lemon citrus, cinnamon, roasted hazelnuts and oak. Nice acidity, with a dry finish that is medium in length with a touch of caramel sweetness.
Nose: Big agave, fresh-cut grass, citrus—bright lemon, toffee sweetness, toasty oak, cinnamon spice, ripe tree fruits with a touch of vanilla.
Palate: Vegetal notes of green bell pepper giving way to white pepper spice, toasted hazelnuts, sweet orange, leading to a warm, pleasant finish that’s medium in length.
Nose: Minerality—wet slate, vegetal notes of bell pepper and damp earth, stewed dark fruit, sweet orange and leather with herbal hints of sage and fennel.
Palate: Big blast of pepper spice leading to a smoky, caramel sweetness, ripe dark fruits and ending with a rather short, warm finish, with just the memory of bitter almond.
TEQUILA OCHO – SINGLE ESTATE
Nose: White pepper and anise spice, ripe pear and apple tree fruit, brown sugar to caramel sweetness.
Palette: Big, smoky agave flavor, almond nuttiness with marzipan sweetness. The finish is medium in length with very nice acidity and memorable notes of smoke and toffee sweetness.
Nose: Ripe agave, vanilla, cinnamon with white pepper, ginger and dried fruits, green apple, citrus, toasty oak.
Palette: White pepper spice right away, with honey/baked-agave sweetness, citrus and a touch of vanilla. Nice acidity, medium to long finish with a reminder of dried fruits and honey-nut brittle.
MILAGRO SELECT BARREL RESERVE BOTTLE #081
Nose: Oak and vanilla, rice pudding with cinnamon, orange zest, cookie dough.
Palette: Baking spices of cinnamon, clove, and ground nutmeg; unveiling notes of cocoa bean, sweet vanilla, and some bread pudding with raisins. A nice acidity with a warm, dry finish.
Tony Abou-Ganim is the founder of Las Vegas-based cocktail consultancy The Modern Mixologist and the author of The Modern Mixologist—Contemporary Classic Cocktails and Vodka Distilled.
REPOSADO TEQUILA COCKTAIL RECIPES
3 Amigos Smokey Margarita
1½ oz. 3 Amigos Reposado tequila
1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
1 oz. Fresh lime juice
4 oz. Water
1 oz. Agave nectar
¼ tsp. Chipotle puree*
1 scoop ice
In cocktail shaker combine ingredients with ice and give it 10 to 12 good shakes, or until very cold. Pour into Margarita glass rimmed with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
*For chipotle puree:
Blend ½ can chipotle peppers and 1 oz. agave nectar in blender until smooth.
The mixologists at 3 Amigos created these two recipes.
2 oz. Espolon Reposado tequila
1 oz. Fresh lime juice
1 oz. Triple Sec
½ oz. Fresh lemon juice
1 oz. Simple syrup
2 oz Strawberry puree*
Combine all into a mixing glass. Pack with ice and shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds. Strain into a Margarita glass with salt rim. Garnish with lime wedge.
*For strawberry puree: Combine 1 pint fresh strawberries, stemmed, and 2 oz. simple syrup (add more or less depending on sweetness/tartness of strawberries) in a blender. Blend ingredients until smooth puree forms.
Recipe courtesy of the Feliz restaurants in Philadelphia: Cantina Feliz, La Calaca Feliz and Taqueria Feliz.
¾ oz. Reposado tequila
¾ oz. Galliano L’Autentico
¾ oz. Bols Elderflower liqueur
¾ oz. Fresh lime juice
Dash of Angostura bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a coupe.
Sahil Mehta, bartender at Estragon in Boston, created this recipe.
1 ½ oz. Espolon reposado tequila
1 oz. Hiram Walker apricot brandy
Juice of one blood orange
2-3 Fresh basil leaves
Tear the basil leaves and add to a snifter. Pour in blood orange juice and muddle well. Add ice and pour in the tequila and apricot brandy and stir. Garnish with slices of blood orange.
Vicki Honerkamp, head bartender and wine steward at Jakes atop the Midnight Star in Deadwood, SD, created this recipe.