Recipe Gold at the Tres Agaves Tequila Holiday Cook-off

Last week to celebrate the year – and finish off our company sales meeting – our affable CEO Barry Augus had us all over to his place for a potluck of sorts. Chris Alvarez our VP of Sales had grill duty and was fixing up chicken and steak. Jamie Chilberg, our NorCal rep, was mixing up the Margaritas and “keeping them comin’”. The rest of the team was responsible for everything else. I say it was a potluck “of sorts” because there was one catch: each item had to contain at least one of our own products: Tequila, Cocktail-Ready Agave Nectar or Margarita mix. The company sprang for all the ingredients and all the cooking was done in real time. Prizes would be awarded. Let the cook-off begin.

We all carpooled over to Barry’s in the late afternoon and found a kitchen full of ingredients waiting for us. Sensing the potential for “crowded BART rush hour” conditions I strategically dove in early to complete my dish. 20 minutes later, my cooking was done and I could focus on my three favorite pastimes: eating, drinking and carrying on.

It was a great evening – 1 part Thanksgiving feast, 1 part kitchen laboratory, 1 part Tales of the Cocktail. While there was some winging it most everything turned out as planned. And some of the creations were down right yummy and worth sharing. Here’s some of the crowd faves:

Tequila-Marinated Shrimp (via Better Homes & Gardens) by Pamela Smith, Controller

Tequila marinated shrimp ala Pamela

Shrimp dredged in Tequila, garlic and lime. Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh or frozen medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, leaving tails intact
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Tres Agaves Añejo Tequila
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Preparation:

    Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Rinse shrimp; pat dry. Set aside. 

In large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat; add onion and garlic and cook about 3 minutes or until tender. Add shrimp and tequila; bring to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until shrimp turn opaque, stirring occasionally.

    Transfer shrimp mixture to a bowl. Add lime juice, cilantro, and salt; toss to mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Drain before serving. To keep these tongue-tingling shrimp well-chilled during a party, place them in a bowl nestled inside a larger bowl of ice.

    Makes 10 to 12 appetizer servings.

    Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare as above. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Drain before serving.

    Banana Cream Pie with Sweet Walnut Cream Crust (via Raw Epicurean.net) by Ned Cartmell, Marketing Manager

    OK, this looked a bit weird on the table but it tasted great. I would recommend a little whipped topping to dress it up.

    Also Phylum Husk powder is soluble fiber, which is a good additive if you want to stay regular; otherwise completely unnecessary here. The young Ned opted out of this ingredient.

    Ingredients:

    Sweet Walnut Crust:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • ¾ cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2-3 chopped dates
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • Cream Filling:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2 bananas
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon phylum husk powder (optional)
  • Topping:

  • 2-3 bananas, cut in to ½ inch rounds
  • Preparation:

    For Sweet Walnut Crust:
    Place the first three ingredients in the food processor and process into a moist meal. While the processor is running slowly pour in the agave until the mixture turns into a ball. Press sweet crust into a 9-inch pie dish to form pie crust.

    Set aside.

    For Filling:
    Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

    For Topping:
    Cut bananas into ½ rounds.

    Assembly:
    Pour the cream filling into the sweet pie crust. Top with sliced bananas in a circular pattern for a pretty presentation. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

    Avocado Chipotle Dip by Eric Rubin, Founder and Brand Director

    Chipotle dip to the max from Eric

    What can I say? Eric’s a master with a food processor.

    Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, and sliced
  • 1 cup sour cream (regular or light)
  • 1/2 cup mayo (regular or light)
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 chipotle chiles en adobo, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce
  • 2 medium green onions, sliced thin
  • Salt, to taste
  • Preparation:

    In a bowl or food processor, mix all ingredients except green onions. Transfer to a serving bowl and mix in green onions. Add salt to taste. Chill until flavors meld, about 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips and sliced cucumbers.

    Tequila Citrus Cranberry Relish by Parker Trewin, Director Marketing

    Tequila Cranberry Relish before chillin out

    I did a version of cranberry sauce recipe that my cousin Dana Towle Wigton gave me (thanks schweets!). I had it years ago while visiting her in Maine over Thanksgiving. I loved it and have been making it every year ever since. I mixed it up by substituting nectar for sugar and adding a kick of Tequila. (If you want to get really crazy add a teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper. Finishes it off with some heat.)

    Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 package fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup blackberry jam
  • ¼ cup Tres Agaves Cocktail-Ready Agave Nectar
  • 2 ounces Tres Agaves Añejo Tequila
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated orange peel
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • Preparation:

    Boil water. Reduce heat to at least medium. Add ingredients. Stirring frequently, wait for cranberries to pop and the mixture to thicken. (About 10 minutes.) Remove from heat. Chill to room temperature. Serve.

    Zesty Shrimp and Avocado Salad by Nicole Morris Vegas/Colorado Regional Market Manager

    The makings of a winner!

    And saving the best for last, this audience favorite and winning entry was flown in from Vegas. Fresh and delicious!

    Ingredients:

    Salad:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 ear corn, husk and silk removed
  • 2 zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 6 colossal or 12 extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 head butter lettuce, torn
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
  • Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Tres Agaves Cocktail-Ready Agave Nectar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups store-bought tortilla strips (recommended: Mission Restaurant Style)
  • Preparation:

    For the salad: Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. In a large bowl add the romaine lettuce, corn, zucchini, and shrimp and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill the romaine lettuce, turning occasionally, until crisp-tender and browned in spots, about 2 minutes. Coarsely chop the grilled lettuce and add it to a large salad bowl. Grill the corn and zucchini for 2 minutes on all sides until crisp-tender. Remove the kernels from the corn and add to the salad bowl. Chop the zucchini into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the bowl. Grill the shrimp until the meat is opaque and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Cool slightly and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the chopped shrimp, butter lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado to the bowl.

    For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and Tres Agaves Cocktail-Ready Agave Nectar until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Garnish the salad with tortilla strips and serve. Serves 4.

    Getting to your Proper Margarita

    Hey

    Today I was gonna write about the awesome home-cooked, holiday supper we had after yesterday’s sales meeting -each course featured a Tres Agaves product. But that will have to wait – check it out next week. Instead I’m reprinting a blog post done by Libation Lab’s Quinn Sweeney on the “proper” margarita.

    Thanks for the words, Quinn!
    ——————

    As much preacher as teacher, Eric Rubin is the agave evangelist from Tres Agaves Tequila who ran our Nirvino cocktail education event last week on making a proper margarita.

    Conspicuously absent were the corn syrup, sugar cane spirits, sour mix and orange liqueur. Rubin promotes a margarita comprised simply of 100% agave tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice and agave syrup. His preferred 2:1:1 ratio is a bit sweet for me, but the quality of the simple drink shines through regardless.

    The key to this recipe is the quality of the tequila. You get into trouble as soon as you pick up a bottle of “mixto” tequila, which is never indicated on the bottle with an honest “49% high fructose corn syrup” but simply by omission of “100% agave”. If the label doesn’t say “100% agave”, it isn’t.

    I believe that if you prefer a fruity or exotic margarita, there’s no rule against modification, but remember that quality and simplicity are crucial. Substitute sweet and fruity ingredients for some or all of the agave syrup or lime juice to to maintain balance.

    Rubin however, warns against frozen margaritas: “If you just blend up good ingredients with ice it both dilutes the drink and will also separate almost immediately due to no additives. The reason frozen ones with bad ingredients have such great texture is because they use corn starch or other thickeners to give it that milk shake smoothness.”

    He does allow for salt in moderation, and told me, “… it came about during a bout of Spanish influenza in 1919/20 in Mexico. Almost all doctors told their patients to put lime and salt with almost all of their food. That led to Mexican men preferring their beer this way, which led to the whole shot with salt and lime phenomenon as well as salt on margaritas.”

    So to recap, a proper margarita is the product of care, simplicity and purity as you will find in the recipe below.

    The Tres Agaves Margarita
    o 2 ounces Tres Agaves Blanco tequila
    o 1 ounce agave syrup
    o 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

    Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a glass with fresh ice.

    Taster’s Choice – Serving up the Final Three Cocktails

    Embarking on my mission to create and taste test all the featured drinks at tonight’s Fillmore Holiday Cocktail Crawl I’ve managed to make it nearly half way through quest. With the ingredients bought and two out of five drinks served we took a short break before delving into our last batch of Tres Agaves Tequila Cocktails. The evening was a hit so far. My friends were yakking -which mostly meant giving me a hard time- and enjoying the cocktails. So far, so good so on to the next set of libations.

    Jalisco Blossom by Lenny Gumm.

    Ingredients:

  • 1.5oz Tres Agaves Anejo Tequila
  • .25 oz Kashimiri chili agave nectar
  • .25 oz J.Witty Chamomile liqueur
  • 2 drops The Bitter Truth lemon bitters
  • Directions:

  • Stir ingredients with ice, strain into rocks glass filled with ice.
  • Twist a grapefruit peel over the drink, rub on the rim of the glass, and place into cocktail.
  • Jalisco Blossom

    Bartender notes:
    A thankfully easy drink to prepare. The ingredients were among the most exotic. Tried the Chamomile liqueur neat afterwards. Pretty dang good by itself. Would have been better and even great with a single cube of ice.

    Taster notes:
    Anne: “Ahhhhhh, a sipping cocktail. Smokey but surprisingly clean.”
    Dean: “The lighter side of Scotch. I’ll have this drink in one hand and a cigar in the other, please?”
    Yina: “I’d call it a Rusticini.”

    And then we headed to the 60’s hard-rock inspired Joplin’s Juice by Rob Albright.

    Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz. Tres Agaves Reposado Tequila
  • Dash of bitters
  • ½ tsp. Agave Nectar
  • 3 oz. Pineapple juice
  • Garnish pineapple and cherry
  • Step-by-step directions:

  • 1. Fill shaker with ice
  • 2. Add 1 full shot of Tres Agaves Reposado Tequila
  • 3. Add a dash of bitters
  • 4. Then add the agave syrup
  • 5. Fill shaker with pineapple juice and shake
  • 6. Strain over ice
  • 7. Garnish with cherry and pineapple chunk.
  • Joplin's Juice

    Bartender notes:
    Noticed in process that I didn’t have the amount pineapple juice written anyway. My third mistake of the evening. Winged it and went with an oz. which made the drink a tad too sweet and not as fruity as it was when I remade it the following night with the ingredients above. Yet, still everybody really like this.

    Anne: “Tastes like the Carribean. Good down way too easily.”
    Dean: “A Tequila Mai-Tai with a hint of Vanilla.”
    Yina: “A sweet and sour Martini.”

    The final drink was The Zapata by Barclay Spring.

    Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Tres Agaves Reposado Tequila
  • 1.5 oz Pomegranate mix
  • 3 Dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 1 Fresh lime
  • Dash of simple syrup
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • Directions:

  • Add all ingredients.
  • Shake.
  • Pour into a martini glass with a sugar rim (if you hold simple syrup).
  • Garnish with a lemon slice, lemon twist or cherry.
  • The Zapata

    Bartender’s notes:
    Received this submission too late to include in the party but wanted to include it here since it will be featured at tonight’s crawl. Not sure what Pomegranate mix was so substituted Langer’s Pom juice. Also opted for the non-sugared rim and lemon garnish. While I was hoping for a brighter show in the glass it was still pretty dang yummy.

    Tomorrow I’ll look back at last night’s event. Share some pics and announce the audience favorite. Stay tuned.

    Taster’s Choice – Serving Up the First Two Cocktails.

    With the shopping behind me I was pretty much set except I still had to secure my panel of judges. It was a given that the drinks were free – a definite recruitment plus – but part of my “homework” meant that I would be serving as “acting bartender”, which in some people’s eyes could be a bit of a minus. (As the evening wore on some of their apprehension on my bartending capabilities turned out to be somewhat justified. You’ll see what I mean as you read on.)

    With some emails and well placed phone calls I rounded up 7 friends who were game. We drew straws and narrowed it down to three for my un-official, un-professional but fun, tasting panel. Here’s a brief snapshot of my trio of non-experts:

  • Anne: Former NYC corporate executive. Chucked it. Moved to San Francisco. Current art school student. (Let’s just say she embraces change in her life.)
  • Dean: Six feet five inches of fun from the Oakland Hills and not afraid to let his Midwest roots show through.
  • Yina: Naturalized mainland Chinese. Pint-sized frame. Large personality. Want an opinion? Yina’s got one and is willing to share it.
  • I explained the ground rules and that I needed my tasters to offer an opinion on each drink. A few other notes: We cleansed the palate with some stone ground corn chips. A little salty but seemed to do the trick. We also decided to make the drinks in alphabetical order. I also prepared the drinks as close to instructions as possible.

    So we were off. What follows is a listing of the first two drinks, ingredients, directions, my bartender notes and the non-expert, non-official -yet animated- commentary of the drink.

    The first drink up was The Redevelopment created by Mathew Frantin.

    Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila
  • .75 oz Luxardo Marachino Liquor
  • 1.5 oz Pineapple juice 1.5 oz
  • .5 oz Lime juice
  • .5 oz Agave Nectar
  • 1 ring of a red Jalapeno
  • Directions:

  • Muddle the jalapeno in the shaker.
  • Put ice and ingredients into shaker, shake and pour into an old fashion glass.
  • Garnish with lime and put straws in.
  • The Redevelopment

    Bartender notes: The Redevelopment was originally named The Conquistador hence it was first on the list. My taster’s were impatient and wanted their first drink, ah like yesterday. I was derided because “everything” took way too long. “Thanks guys. I guess free booze wasn’t good enough?” Already feeling the pressure I realized that my shaker was too big which made it hard to muddle the jalapeno. Also make sure to muddle the jalapeno first! With a smaller shaker the jalapeno flavor would have come through better. Also I don’t normally “do” straws but they were helpful for sanity sharing of drinks throughout the evening.

    Taster Comments:
    Anne: “Could be dangerous. Tastes like Hawaii.”
    Dean: “Refreshingly frothy. Perfect for the pool.”
    Yina: “Fresh with a solid kick at the end. Just how I like it. Great hot weather drink.”

    Our second drink of the night was the Fillmo’better by Sean McNeal.

    Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila
  • .75 oz St. Germain
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • .75 oz agave nectar
  • .75 oz 99 proof bananas
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • Directions:

  • Build in a shaker glass.
  • Add the Tres Agaves Tequila, St. Germain, fresh press lime juice and agave nectar.
  • Shake the bloody living hell out of it, and strain. (My favorite instruction of the night!)
  • Top with the foam, which should be the consistency of irish coffee whipped cream (ie, should be able to be easily poured and layer)
  • More instructions for me to make sure I got it right:I like to use a flash blender, adding a pint of cream, 1.5-2 oz. agave nectar, and 3 oz 99 bananas- 99 proof banana schnapps (or to taste). In a flash blender whip for 2-3 seconds.

    In a whip cream siphon, of the liter size, proportion the mixture accordingly and fill to a liter and only add one NO2 charger. Shake and test pour, shake more if need be to achieve desired consistency. Again, it should be silken smooth and only firm enough to layer on the drink.

    Fill'moBetter

    Bartender notes: Apparently the “bartender” was sipping a bit too much of the Tequila and I didn’t exactly get it right. I forgot the lime juice. Called a mulligan and reshot the hole. Surprisingly good the first time but much better the second time out with lime to balance out the St. Germain and Nectar. I also didn’t spring for the NO2 charger. Whipped up the 99 proof bananas and whip cream and got what I think was the desired end result.

    Taster Comments:

    Anne: “Ah, Yum. Tart, sweet with foamy goodness. Like a Gin Fizz but way better.”
    Dean: “An adult banana split. I definitely Feel’mo Better”
    Yina: “Creamy, dreamy. Bananas emerge after lime infusion.”

    In tomorrow’s post we finish it up with the final three drinks.

    Tequila Talk: Batanga

    On our recent trip to Tequila we made the pilgrimage to La Capilla, a small corner bar that could be easily over looked except for it’s the birthplace of one of Mexico’s favorite drinks: The Batanga. Truth is the “streetside” view of the bar doesn’t display a lot of curb appeal.

    La Capilla in Tequila, Jalisco.

    But what happens inside is completely charming.

    The Batanga was created in 1961 by Don Javier Delgado Corona, now the octogenerian bar keeper at La Capilla. The Batanga is basically Mexico’s version of the Cuba Libre – substitute Tequila for Rum. Here’s a clip of Don Javier making his famous drink. And on our late Friday night excursion the master, while not tending bar, was the fixture of the establishment. While his family carries on tradition of mixing up Batangas, Don Javier sat quietly in corner chair, overseeing all and quietly accepting the well wishes of those who stopped by.

    Here’s his recipe:

  • 50ml Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila
  • 2 squeezes of lime
  • Top with Coca Cola
  • Rim with Salt.
  • Winning Recipes from Margarita Challenge

    Thea Sommers, who bartends at Carefree Station in Carefree, AZ was the winner of the Tres Agaves Margarita Challenge at the recent Arizona Taco Festival. Thea was clearly on her game with her Apple Pie Margarita and Sombero cocktails. She served them up with sass and class.

    Check out these photos.

    For those who want to make these winning cocktails here’s the secret to Thea’s success:

    Apple Pie Margarita
    1oz green apple puree
    1oz cinnamon simple sryup
    2oz Tres Agaves Tequila
    3 squeezes of lime
    sparkling cider

    Add all ingredients into shaker, shake well, pour into a tall glass with cinnamon sugar rim, garnish with apple and carmel.

    Sombrero
    1 slice red bell pepper
    2 cilranto leaves
    2 oz Tres Agaves Tequila
    1 oz Tres Agaves 100% Organic Agave Nectar
    2 lime squeezes
    Float of Mezcal
    habanero sauce(abourt 2 drops)
    Smokey Salt for garnish

    Muddle red pepper, cilranto, and agave nectar, add rest of ingredients, shake well, strain, pour over ice into a bucket glass, garnish with a smokey salted rim and a slice of red pepper.

    Sounds better than yummy, Thea!

    Drinking a Little True Blood

    During my recent “fact finding” trip to Mexico we had a couple of hours on Sunday to enjoy some of  Eric Rubin’s delicious Sangrita alongside a shot of Blanco.

    Sangrita is commonly confused with Sangria which is basically fruit-infused wine.  In Mexico, Sangrita (meaning “little blood”) is the traditional chaser that is served alongside a shot of Tequila.   It’s a blend of orange juice, tomato juice and a dash of hot sauce.  The flavor can run from citrusy sweet, to tomatoey tart.  I like Eric’s because I’m a fan of the tart side; the acidity complements the tequila and cleanses your palette.  And I love the kick.

    And while Sangrita is great with Tequila many also like it as a side to their favorite beer as well. So you might serve with a Pacifico or a Modelo.

    A nice presentation is on a small wooden tray with seasoned & regular salt plus lime wedges, or with sliced cucumbers with lime, salt, and chile de arbol.

    Here’s how you can make your own:

    Eric’s Spicy Sangrita:

    Ingredients:

    7 oz. fresh, seeded tomato juice

    2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice

    2 oz. fresh orange juice

    2 oz. fresh lime juice

    1 oz. Valentina or Tapatio hot sauce

    1 oz. Tres Agaves agave nectar (which is optional but it does a nice job of balancing the heat)

    1 fresh jalapeño or serrano pepper, sliced lengthwise (serranos are best as the seeds tend to not release from the pod)

    1 tsp. black pepper

    ½ tsp. salt

    Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir until the salt dissolves.  Let the mixture sit until it reaches the desired heat level; usually 15-30 minutes.  Discard the pepper and refrigerate.

    Enjoy!