First, full disclosure: I am cooking up this brunch at a pop-up event sponsored by Feastly this coming Sunday, May 3rd in The Mission, so for those of you who were just waiting for a chance to taste my food, this is it!. There will be a tortilla-making class first, starting at 10 a.m, then brunch at 11, with bottomless Mimosas, an all-Tequila bar and lots of great locals. Come through! (Ticket info at the very bottom of this post, follow link to Feastly for brunch menu)
In Mexico, the birthplace of Tequila (in the region named Tequila where you can drive for miles and miles surrounded by rolling hills of agave), this is, naturally, the alcoholic beverage of choice. And one of the very best choices is something you may be less familiar with, an unaged Tequila.
Unaged Tequila! What is that?
This superior Tequila is available through Casa Noble, where the process begins with carefully selected mature Blue Agave plants, which have met strict requirements for water and sugar content. While most Tequila producers harvest their agave within five to seven years, the agave used in unaged Tequila is harvested only when it reaches full maturity, which may take up to fourteen years. Traditional methods, employed by Casa Noble, an award-winning produced of this specialty Tequila, involve slow-cooking the agave piñas for thirty-eight hours in stone ovens. Then, using only the core and hearts of the agaves, the sweet nectar is extracted, followed by a fermentation process that is 100% natural. This process allows the tequila to be influenced by the character of the agave, fruit trees and other plants that surround the Casa Noble hacienda, where the Tequila grows and is produced. The final aspect of the processing that results in this superior product is this: All tequila must be distilled twice. Casa Noble Tequila is triple distilled, resulting in a tequila that has garnered awards here and in Mexico, Casa Noble’s Unaged Silver Tequila including San Francisco’s World Spirit Competition where it won a Double Gold Medal F
Sangrita, the Way to Savor Your Tequila like a Mexican
A great Tequila should be sipped, not taken in shots, and the taste should languish on the tongue and palate. Alternating sips of Tequila with Sangrita is the best way to do this. Sangrita (not to be confused with Sangria) is an accompaniment to Tequila, whose fruity tones are meant to cleanses the palate and highlight the peppery undertones of the Tequila. Its not a chaser, but rather is meant to be enjoyed before your Tequila to cleanse and wake up your taste buds.
Tomato vs. Pomegranate Juice
Sangrita translates as and translates as “little blood”. And that, the blood red color of this sidecar to a shot, is where the confusion seems to have begun. Born in the Lake Chapala region of Jalisco, Mexico, Sangrita was not well-known outside of Guadalara (the state in Mexico where Jalisco is located) and certainly not outside of Mexico until Tequila started to gain popularity in the 1990’s (yes, there was a time when we didn’t drink Tequila widely here in the U.S.). As the alcoholic beverage caught on, so did its partner, Sangrita. In an attempt to replicate the blood red color, mixoligists came up with a recipe which used tomato juice, along with orange juice and something with a kick, which varies from recipe to recipe: Tapatio or Tabasco or chile powder. While this has become the customary way to prepare Sangrita, it may not be the original recipe: a more authentic Sangrita can be made with Seville orange, lime and pomegranate juices and a hint of ancho chile, garnished with a couple of jalapeño slices.
Our recommendation is that you master the tradition, and sip with a Casa Noble Crystal Tequila, slowly so as the savor the way the two play off each other. Try variations on Sangrita and discover what you think is the best combination.
Casa Noble Sangrita Recipe (modified, recipe is for a pitcher which is enough for a handle of Tequila)
• 32 oz tomato juice
• 16 oz. orange juice (freshly squeezed is prefereable)
• 4 oz. hot sauce like Salsa Valentina, Tapatio or Tabasco or substitute fresh minced Japapeños to taste
• 4 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
• Jugo Maggi, Worcestershire and salt to taste.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who writes a blog on bartending and mixology and is author of the Bar Book, “worked up a [Sangrita] recipe [based on the flavor profiles of the original] that should approximate the flavor of this spicy little sour orange and pomegranate chaser while still providing an authentic experience.”
Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Sangrita (recipe is for a single shot)
• 1 oz orange juice (freshly-squeezed)
• ¾ oz – 1 oz lime juice (depending on the sweetness of your oranges)
• ½ oz real pomegranate grenadine
• 3 dashes hot sauce or ¼ tsp pasilla chili powder
Mix ingredients (if using chili powder, we recommend a blender or shaker, so a to allow the powder to mix well) , chill, and serve.
Another way to go: Verdita
• 32 oz pineapple juice
• 1 bunch cilantro coarsely chopped
• ½ bunch fresh mint , chopped
• 2-3 jalapeños (add one at a time as you are blending, to taste)
Mix ingredients in a blender, strain, chill, and serve.
The Casa Noble Ritual
In honor of the huge celebration that Cinco de Mayo has become, here, in the U.S. (much more of fiesta than it is in Mexico, where it is primarily celebrated in Puebla, the site of the battle it commemorates, follow link for more on the history of Cinco de Mayo, plus some great Carne Asada recipes), Casa Noble Tequila is introducing The Ritual, a special way to enjoy your tequila. This is a cocktail in three parts: a shot glass of Sangrita, a Shot of Casa Noble Crystal and Corona Extra. All three should be sipped in exactly that order and repeated until you need refills – no shots allowed!
For a chance to enjoy the Casa Noble Ritual and a great Cinco de Mayo Brunch, (and you can learn to make tortillas by hand!) join Feastly and Chef Gray (full disclosure, that’s me!) in the Mission this coming Sunday, May 3rd. For full menu, including an all-Tequila bar and tickets through Feastly (advance sales only).