Grand Magazine - - CONTENTS - Ains­ley Szvitak’s Pop­corn Jalapeño Mar­garita

Ains­ley Szvitak’s Pop­corn Jalapeno Mar­garita

There could never be a more per­fect sum­mer cock­tail than a mar­garita. It’s sweet, sour, bit­ter, salty and es­thet­i­cally pleas­ing. A mar­garita has it all. When I cre­ate cock­tails, I try to find things that in­spire me, even if it is the small­est flavour, colour or smell. West­wood Green­houses in New Ham­burg re­cently brought mi­cro­green sam­ples of pop­corn shoots to our restau­rant and they were so de­li­cious I had to build an en­tire cock­tail around those flavours. Pop­corn shoots have a gor­geous pale yel­low colour, with a mildly sweet flavour and un­der­tones of anise.

I be­gan think­ing of what spir­its would work well with these flavours and was drawn im­me­di­ately to te­quila. Te­quila has great struc­ture, mak­ing it per­fect for the be­gin­ning of a cock­tail. It’s sweet, bit­ter, savoury and just won­der­ful all around.

Se­lect­ing a brand of te­quila was not a chal­lenge. I love to use lo­cal prod­ucts as much as pos­si­ble, but there is no such thing as Cana­dian te­quila. The next best thing is to use a te­quila that has an On­tar­ian part­ner at­tached to the brand, so Tromba be­came my choice.


Blanco: White te­quila is bot­tled im­me­di­ately af­ter dis­til­la­tion with no ag­ing in oak bar­rels. It is al­ways crisp, clean and great for light cock­tails. I love Blanco te­quila for Palo­mas or a fun Cham­pagne cock­tail.

Anejo: This te­quila is aged for a min­i­mum of one year in wooden bar­rels. It is per­fect for sip­ping with a small amount of dis­tilled wa­ter added or on a large ice cube, some­times with a lime zest. Anejo te­quila should be en­joyed the same way you en­joy a scotch or bour­bon. Use it in a cock­tail that doesn’t have too many ingredients, al­low­ing the te­quila to be the star. Anejo te­quila could be used for a fun spin on an Old Fash­ioned or Man­hat­tan or, if you pre­fer cock­tails with a bite, even try it as a Ne­groni.

Re­posado: Its name means rested and it spends a min­i­mum of two months in wooden vats or oak bar­rels. This is what gives this te­quila its beau­ti­ful sig­na­ture golden colour. Ag­ing in oak also gives the spirit more struc­ture and flavour, mak­ing this my choice of te­quila for mar­gar­i­tas.

The Tromba Re­posado te­quila in my mar­garita is aged for six months in Amer­i­can whiskey bar­rels, which re­ally el­e­vates the smooth, easy drink­ing qual­ity. This te­quila has an ar­ray of scents and flavours, such as ca­cao, pineap­ple, toasted

nuts and or­anges, fin­ish­ing with smoke and charred wood. POP­CORN IN­FU­SION

To re­spect the time and love that has gone into cre­at­ing such a beau­ti­ful te­quila, I want to en­hance cer­tain as­pects to cre­ate a very spe­cific craft cock­tail. This is where the pop­corn comes into play. It el­e­vates the toasted notes on te­quila and adds a light but­tery as­pect.

I re­ally en­joy in­fus­ing spir­its, not nec­es­sar­ily to change them but to play on the flavours they are lend­ing to the cock­tail.

In­fus­ing is in­cred­i­bly easy. The longer you leave the spirit in con­tact with what­ever your in­fus­ing in­gre­di­ent is the more con­cen­trated the flavour will be­come. It can take one hour or a few days.

For pop­corn te­quila I re­ally just want a mild flavour, so no more than three hours is needed. Do­ing an in­fu­sion on a spirit also makes it feel more like it’s your cock­tail be­cause you are cre­at­ing those flavours. LIME LIQUEUR

Mak­ing my own ingredients has its chal­lenges, but the re­wards are al­ways worth it. There’s a lot of trial and er­ror, but once you’ve fig­ured it out it’s very easy.

I de­cided to make my own lime liqueur for my mar­garita. Tra­di­tion­ally, mar­gar­i­tas are sweet­ened with Coin­treau or, if you want some­thing more el­e­gant, Grand Marnier. How­ever, homemade liqueur is al­ways fun to brag about in front of the guests you are en­ter­tain­ing. Or, if you are en­joy­ing this on a sum­mer day off, then it al­most makes it more en­joy­able know­ing that you put so much work into this de­li­cious bev­er­age.

To make your own liqueur, you need an in­ex­pen­sive vodka. You are dras­ti­cally chang­ing the flavour, so the qual­ity of the spirit does not play a role in this part of the cock­tail. I rec­om­mend start­ing with a small amount since you are only us­ing half an ounce per cock­tail when it is fin­ished.

For ev­ery 500 millil­itres of vodka, you will need three to four limes. Zest the limes en­tirely. I al­ways use a potato peeler be­cause it al­lows me to get only the zest of the fruit. You don’t want the pith – the white part be­tween the flesh and the skin. It is very bit­ter and can de­stroy a cock­tail in an in­stant.

Al­low the lime zests to sit in the vodka overnight or, if you want it re­ally con­cen­trated and you plan far in ad­vance, you can leave it for up to three weeks.

Next, you need syrup to sweeten your liqueur. It’s as sim­ple as equal parts sugar and wa­ter. Heat un­til the sugar is dis­solved. Then re­move from heat and al­low to cool be­fore adding to the lime vodka. For ev­ery 500 ml of vodka, I use 250ml of syrup. If you like your cock­tail sweeter, feel free to do equal parts lime vodka to syrup.


You can’t have a mar­garita without salt. This is where all of the bal­ance of the sum­mer treat comes from.

I al­ways en­joy a lit­tle bit of spice in pretty much any cock­tail, so I de­cided I would make a jalapeño salt to rim the glass. Mar­gar­i­tas should al­ways be rimmed with sea salt, or a higher-qual­ity salt – ta­ble salt just doesn’t do the job. You’ll need the juice of one small jalapeño, which can be ex­tracted by plac­ing it in a blender and strain­ing the seeds and skin. Add a lit­tle bit of jalapeño to your sea salt and stir, al­low­ing the salt to dry be­fore us­ing it. It will re­crys­tal­ize af­ter be­ing left for a half hour or so.

If you do not like a lot of spice, an­other op­tion is to add a lit­tle bit of sumac to your salt. Sumac is a re­ally beau­ti­ful flo­ral spice and I en­joy it with all kinds of cock­tails.

Ains­ley Szvitak is the bev­er­age man­ager at Red House restau­rant in Water­loo.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.