You'll no longer have to buy a plane ticket to get in on the cocktails at Seattle's Essex: Owners Brandon Pettit and Molly Wizenberg (a.k.a. Orangette) will be sharing their favorite recipes with us, every other week. Drink up, people.
Today: What happens when a margarita grows up and meets new citrus.
It recently occurred to us that we haven’t yet talked about tequila, and that’s not right. But winter is citrus season -- and citrus goes very well with tequila -- so we can easily rectify the situation.
Our bar manager Niah has been geeking out lately on margaritas, reading up on their many variations. This week’s cocktail is the lucky upshot, though it’s essentially nothing like a margarita. It starts with blanco tequila (also sold sometimes as silver tequila), but rather than adding the usual lime juice, it veers off the path to grapefruit. And instead of Cointreau, Niah reached for a bottle of Lillet, the wonderful fortified wine with prominent citrus notes, because it goes nicely with grapefruit. And because Lillet also plays well with orgeat, a syrup made from almonds, sugar, and orange water, he threw in some of that, too. (We use B. G. Reynolds Orgeat, which is lovely and complex.) And to counter any possible sweetness, and because we think everything is better with a hint of bitterness, for balance -- he added a few dashes of Peychaud’s bitters.
More: Another drink with a hint of bitterness for balance? This Campari Shandy.
The result is a drink that Brandon named In My Solitude, after the jazz standard of the same name. (He’d been listening to the Ella Fitzgerald version on the day that Niah made up the drink; that’s all the explanation he can offer.) It’s refreshingly citrusy, the way a margarita is, but it’s more complex, more fragrant, a little floral. And it got us wondering: Maybe some of you like to riff on the margarita theme, too? We’d love to hear what you’ve dreamed up.
Grapefruit wedge, for the glass
Vanilla salt or kosher salt, for the rim of the glass
1 1/2 ounces blanco tequila
3/4 ounce Lillet blanc
3/4 ounce grapefruit
1/4 ounce orgeat
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Grapefruit peel, for garnish
Photo by Molly Wizenberg