What do you need to come up with a simply great name like Tres Agaves? A trip to the Los Altos region in Jalisco for an amazing outdoor fiesta certainly helps. And if you’re lucky you’ll get some inspiration from the view. Tres Agaves Founder Eric Rubin explains…
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
Shrimp dredged in Tequila, garlic and lime. Yum!
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.
Sweet Walnut Crust:
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.
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Cut bananas into ½ rounds.
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
What can I say? Eric’s a master with a food processor.
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
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.)
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
And saving the best for last, this audience favorite and winning entry was flown in from Vegas. Fresh and delicious!
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.
Today I digress.
Yesterday in the office we were bantering around the word “bourgeois”. I had to admit I really didn’t know the precise definition. There was some shock and awe expressed. I retorted, “Do you know how many words there are in the English language? It’s a lot to keep track of, which is why we have dictionaries. Feel free to use them.”
Look up the word I did. (I’m aware the above word is actually French. Sarcasm intended.)
–noun 1. a member of the middle class. 2. a person whose political, economic, and social opinions are believed to be determined mainly by concern for property values and conventional respectability. 3. a shopkeeper or merchant.
I also didn’t really know how many words there are in the English language. (I didn’t really know a lot yesterday.) Turns out I’m in good company. Nobody seems to know but it is indeed a lot. Get a load of this nugget from Wikipedia:
The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (OED2) includes over 600,000 definitions, following a rather inclusive policy: It embraces not only the standard language of literature and conversation, whether current at the moment, or obsolete, or archaic, but also the main technical vocabulary, and a large measure of dialectal usage and slang (Supplement to the OED, 1933). The editors of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged (475,000 main headwords) in their preface, estimate the number to be much higher. It is estimated that about 25,000 words are added to the language each year.
So to distill it down: at least 1/2 million words, growing at a rate of 25K a year. It is indeed a lot to keep track of. And I’m even disregarding such terms as “frienemy” and other fluffed up terms that have been recently added. FYI, while the English language has no governing body that keeps official track of official words other languages like Spanish and French have such bodies.
Comparatively there’s about 1/2 as many words in the Spanish language which could mean a couple of things: the governing body is more rigorous or restrictive and/or English speakers are more verboise. My guess is it’s probably both.
After my hosting duties were completed, I got to hang out with the 400 plus folks who attended and compare my creations with the experts. As a reminder here’s the drink list.
I sampled everything but The Zapata, which was “out” by the time I got there. So I’m trusting the law of supply and demand and that it must have been pretty tasty. All the drinks were high on the yum scale. In my own biased opinion my versions stacked up well against the Fillmo’better, the Jalisco Blossom and Joplin’s Juice. This is not to say I prepared better drinks than these Bartenders – only to say that they weren’t signifcantly worse.
Sean McNeal’s 99 proof banana “frothing” on “Fillmo” was clearly on the money and on my lips. Mine was a little heavier in the glass – but still not bad. I preferred my version served up neat in a Martini glass. As you can see, though, I had no problem getting to the bottom of the glass. And apparently neither did anyone else as it was chosen the audience favorite. Congrats Sean!
The Redevelopment was clearly better and deLISH. It WAS the muddling of the Jalapeno. It made all the difference. It was spicier, better balanced. It was all at once sweet and sour with a pepper finish that made it come alive.
I was too focused on enjoyed this and not focused enough on getting a shot. Wish I had a picture to share but, alas, I do not. I did snap this clinking of glasses though. A perfect way to finish off a great evening.
Bay Area folks: If you want to know which pubs are featuring these drinks, click here or pop me a comment. Happy to provide!
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 ingredient
s 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Doing a little homework for this Wednesday’s Fillmore Street Holiday Cocktail Crawl, which is the Fillmore District’s (for you folks in San Francisco Bay Area) way to welcome the season and sample some tasty cocktails.
Here’s the plug for the event: It only costs 5 dollars and the “crawl” takes you to some of the hipper locales in the hood. Plus each pub will feature a special Tequila based cocktail that you get to sample. Plus all the registration money benefits the African American Art & Culture Complex. Yum and for a good cause. Sold?
Now back to my “homework”.
Here’s what’s I signed up for: making, tasting and sampling all the featured drinks. At the event attendees will have the opportunity to text in their favorite- so one of these drinks will be crowned the Fillmore Favorite. Why not do a dry run and then compare their results to ours?
Thanks to Nirvino I got all the recipes and held a little pre-tasting with some hip, swank and cool friends that I managed to scrounge up. Securing the location, time and date of the event was easy – my place a time of my choosing. 7pm on a Friday worked for both me and my friends.
A somewhat harder and more time-consuming task was securing all the ingredients for the cocktails. Here’s a run down of the cocktails that I had to the goods on:
These nifty Tequila drinks included some pretty exotic specifics: J. Witty Chamomile Liquor, Luxardo Marachino Liquor, Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters and St. Germain-an elderberry liquor-not to mention Tres Agaves Tequila. I was able to get all this plus the requisite cherries, pineapple juice and lemons in one or two stops. So far easy enough but not inexpensive. The tab for the liquor ran over 120 bucks not including the Tequila that I had in my stash.
I had two more ingredients on my list: Kashmiri Chili Agave Nectar and 99 Proof Banana Liquor. Getting any chile-infused liquor was going to be impossible and I was definitely out of time to make it myself. Thankfully, Lenny who created a drink that necessitated this ingredient, offered my up some. Danke Lenny! Lifesaver. The banana liquor was a bugaboo. I went to no less than five places before finding it at a local chain store. Want to know which one? Click here. I don’t know why I didn’t start there. While they didn’t have 750 ML size. They did have a trial size.
Note: Two minis were the perfect amount for the recipe and it saved me some bucks, too. So, if you’re thinking about doing something like this in the future. Good tip for all you out there who might be crafting up some specialty drinks this holiday season.
My shopping was completed and I ended up with a table full of liquors, mixers, garni and tools. Take a look at the haul:
In tomorrow’s blog I’ll explain what happened when we started creating, mixing, tasting and discussing.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records the largest cocktail ever recorded was a margarita made in Las Vegas, on October 15, 2010, by the folks at Ricardo’s Mexican Restaurant as a way to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the restaurant. Here’s a pic:
To achieve this feat they poured in a giant glass (ok, tank) measuring 14 ft. 10 in. tall and 10 ft. in diameter with 1,215 US gallons of Tequila, 750 gallons of sweet and sour mix, 396 gallons of triple sec, 187 gallons of lime juice, nearly 5,000 gallons of spring water and 20 lbs. of salt. (Note: I’d have gone for the simpler 2 part Tequila, 1 part agave nectar, 1 part lime recipe but I wasn’t in charge.)
The record breaking margarita “weighed” in at 7,627 gallons, enough to serve over 80,000 individual margaritas! Now that’s a party!
(FYI, the previous record, at merely 7,038 gallons, stood for nearly 10 years.)