Espolón Holly

Spring really is here and, with it, my desire to escape the city and play by the river or to just sit on my sunny patio with a cocktail.  I realize that I’ve never posted a cocktail recipe here, and for a good reason: I never make them.  To me, a good mixed drink is some kind of magic, an alchemy that is best left to professionals.  But I got hit with spring fever this week and just couldn’t escape the urge to enjoy a somewhat irresponsible treat (responsibly, of course) at home.

For my maiden voyage into the world of cocktail-making, I wanted a recipe that would yield great reward without a lot of specialized ingredients.  While I love fancy liqueurs and aromatic bitters as much as the next person, I didn’t think it would do to have to buy several expensive bottles of ingredients for one little drink.  So I finally settled on an Espolón Holly, adapted from the Corzo Holly over at Imbibe Magazine.  The only differences between my drink and theirs is that mine has just a teensy bit less sugar and it uses a much more affordable tequila.  Of course, you can use any brand of tequila you would like.  My research pointed me in the direction of Espolón because it seems to be universally liked and is moderately priced.  (This website is great for people who don’t know their way around a liquor store and want to buy good spirits without getting suckered into spending too much money.)

Things I learned while making this cocktail:

1. This is just a really great drink.

2. Do your research before heading to the liquor store.  Make a list of well-reviewed products in your price range to take with you because the selection can be overwhelming if you don’t know your Jose Cuervo from Patrón.

3. A muddler seems like an unnecessary tool.  Until you need one.

4. Is it just me, or are limes really hard to juice?

5. Simple syrup is so easy to make.  Just use a 1:1 ratio with regular sugar and water and mix until the sugar is dissolved.  Presto, you’re a bartender!

6. Cocktails are much more exciting (and photogenic) when they are served in special glassware.  Something to add to my ever-growing list of things to buy when I’m out of school and gainfully employed!

I hope you are enjoying the change of season as much as I am.

Espolón Holly
(tip: an ounce is 2 tablespoons) 

– 1 1/2 oz reposado tequila
– 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
– 3/4 oz simple syrup
– 1/8 oz balsamic vinegar
– 3 fresh strawberries, quartered
– 3 fresh basil leaves

In a shaker, muddle the strawberries and basil leaves until juicy and aromatic.  Add remaining ingredients and shake well with ice.  Strain into a glass and garnish with an extra strawberry.