When I was a student, way too many moons ago, tequila was your “one-for-the-road” quickie at the bar counter before stumbling home in the early morning hours. It was usually served with a sad slice of lemon, a heap of table salt gobbed onto your hand and lots of face pulling and accompanying sounds. Not anymore, my hedonistic friends. Like me, Tequila is now all grown up and comes to you in a little black dress, exuding sophistication and style.
Setting the Scene
I recently attended the Merriment & Co product range launch (you can read my blog on the launch here) where they introduced some exciting new lines of fine liquor hitting the Cape Town scene just in time for summer.
Of the ranges introduced on the launch night, I was most excited about Sierra Tequila. Having steered far away from the student experience for many years, although always harbouring a secret taste for the Mexican tipple, I was ready to try again; this time approaching it with a bit more maturity.
It was everything I wished for and more. The bottles are sleek, but bold; exclusive but fun. Sierra produces smooth sipping tequilas, without losing its cheeky party spirit and famous agave bite. I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite between Sierra Tequila Silver, Europe’s most popular choice or the award winning Sierra Reposado Gold. It was like greeting an old friend you’ve not seen for a long time; you recognise the face and features, but underneath the familiarity lies a different, more refined identity that speaks of a new sense of purpose; and a new life.
When Merriment & Co chose a tequila brand to market and distribute in South Africa, they were not prepared to settle for anything but the very best.
The Destilería Sierra, located on a historical Hacienda in Guadalajara, the capital of Tequila, is home of the award winning Sierra Tequila. The art and passion of production has been passed down three generations to the current Master Distiller who guarantees the exceptional taste of Sierra Tequila.
Needless to say, I was over the moon when I was asked to review the two tequila stars of my show: Silver and Reposado Gold. Now, living in Cape Town with summer knocking at the door, begging me to play outside, I decided tequila cocktails are the way to go.
I’m no barlady. I’m no mixologist, either. But I absolutely love pretty things. And tequila, of course! I’ve always gained great pleasure from being presented with a beautifully assembled cocktail, and I honestly see it as an expression of creativity and art. So, Google and I spent an inordinate amount of time searching for DIY cocktail recipes that will do Sierra Tequila due justice. I felt that the tequila needed to speak for itself, so I settled on two fairly simple, but classic, drinks with quality ingredients: a tequila sunrise and a margarita.
Fill a glass with ice and set aside.
Combine Sierra Reposado Gold and orange juice in a cocktail mixing glass. Add ice, stir, and strain into the prepared glass. Slowly pour in grenadine and let settle.
Stir before drinking.
I never follow anything by the book. I live to improvise. I decided on a novel handled beer-mug, instead of the traditional highball glass. I also rimmed my glass with Himalayan pink salt, because I do think the salt enhances a lot of the natural flavours of the tequila. I also used the best quality, freshly squeezed orange juice I could find. I added a touch of grenadine at the end.
I garnished generously with citrus and mint, but that was more for the striking colour contrasts, rather than for flavour. I wanted to add as little as possible that could interfere with the natural flavours of the tequila.
Sierra Reposado Gold is distilled twice in copper stills and then matured for nine months in toasted oak barrels to give it its distinctive gold shimmer. Its gorgeously caramel-y and gently fruity, with distinctly fragrant herbal notes. Even if you’re not a tequila lover, this cocktail is bound to chase away any summer blues you might encounter! It’s refreshing and vibrant, without being overpowering or overly strong. Definitely right at the top on my summer “to-drink” list!
For a classic Margarita, you need a whole lot of stuff that doesn’t just happen to sit in your food cupboard. You need Cointreau, triple sec or another orange liquer and freshly squeezed lime juice. Who has the time and inclination for that, right? Well, Merriment & Co has you covered. They also import a range of non-alcoholic cocktail bases, manufactured by Mixer. And, you guessed it, they do a margarita mix!
In 1990 Mixer conceived the concentrate puree mixes of fruit, as the ultimate evolution syrup for cocktails and it is nowadays the leading company in Europe in this market.
I’m sceptical about cocktail mixes at the best of times because of the artificial, plastic-y taste and all the added nasties. But the Mixer margarita mix tastes like a tropical island in a bottle; filled to the brim with juicy limes and just the right amount of tang and taste. I even drink it as a virgin cocktail on a hot day, mixed with sparking water and loads of ice, for the ultimate refreshing pick-me-upper.
But for all intents and purposes, I mixed it with the Sierra Silver Tequila. You will have to mix your cocktail to taste, but I mixed mine to a ratio of 1.5: 2, tequila to margarita mix. I shook it up with ice in a shaker and strained it into a stemless wine glass. I prepped the glass by rimming it with locally produced flaky sea salt. I added a few wedges of citrus and mint and oh my word. The best margarita, made in the comfort of your own home, without any fuss or frills. Now add a sun lounger, a snack platter and a magazine, and I’m a happy girl.
The Sierra Silver Tequila is just as smooth, but more elegantly understated than the golden Reposado. It’s milder; more delicate, but perfectly balanced when mixed with the slight acidity of the lime juice. Where Reposado is moody and alluring, Silver Tequila is fresh, light and reminds you of ripe pineapples with a cheeky chilli afterthought. It’s very obvious why it’s Europe’s favourite.
Merriment & Co is doing us all a huge favour; let’s face it. It’s bringing the best the world has to offer, right to the most Southern tip of Africa, just for our drinking pleasure. I think Sierra Tequila and the Mixer range are much needed additions to their ever growing portfolio of the world’s finest liquors, and it served as a welcome reminder of my love for this feisty, but festive, drink.
All in all, I think I’ve found my liquid anthem for the summer. I will be supporting Mexico all the way. I will be impressing my festive guests with classy cocktails, or wet their appetites with little tasters of neat Sierra Tequila. Dress it up with a dash of salt and a splash of mixer, or dress it down and sip it neat. Drink it with friends or share it quietly with a loved one. Pair it with a plate of beautiful chicken tacos or a grilled pork tenderloin. However you serve it, make sure to get your hands on the sombrero bottles. If it doesn’t wear a hat, it’s not all that!
The Little Hedonist has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, I do not assume any liability caused by errors.
**This post was sponsored by Merriment & Co who generously sent me the products mentioned above to review. All opinions are my own.