Welcome To Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, House Tequila Rose!

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Welcome To Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, House Tequila Rose!

Props come from Malley's, the best chocolatier in Ohio.

Matthew Hooper

Greetings, Wonketteers! I’m Hooper, your bartender. It’s Valentine’s Day soon. Brace yourself. We’re going to take the worst Valentine’s Day drink ever and make it good. Let’s make some quality Tequila Rose. Here’s the recipe.

Strawberry Tequila Cream (Tequila Rose)

3 oz strawberry-infused El Jimador blanco tequila

2 oz strawberry jam syrup

1.5 oz simple syrup

2 oz half and half

1 dash orange bitters

1 drop vanilla extract

1 drop red food coloring (optional)

In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients except half and half over ice. Shake 8-10 seconds. Add the half and half and shake again, 8-10 seconds. Strain and serve in a small coupe or shot glass rimmed with chocolate ganache. Serves two.

Strawberry-Infused Tequila

3 cups (750 ml) El Jimador Blanco Tequila

1 pound ripe strawberries

2 oz agave syrup

Trim and coarsely chop the strawberries. Place the strawberries in a glass bowl or other nonreactive container and add tequila. Cover and let sit for 2-3 days. Strain into a bottle for later use.

The original Tequila Rose was first launched in 1997. It’s labeled as “Strawberry cream liquor with a hint of tequila.” Almost none of that is true. Tequila Rose does include dairy, but there’s no real strawberries in it and certainly no real tequila. McCormick Distilling manufactures this beverage. If you look through the liquor store, you’ll see McCormick’s name on large plastic jugs of … well, let’s be kind and call it “value-centric” vodka. Difford’s Guide’s description of Tequila Rose says it all — “there’s no accounting for tastes.”

Despite the baggage, I thought that the combination of tequila, fruit, and cream sounded appealing. It also provided a chance to talk about some techniques we can use later in the year. The end result is creamy and full of strawberry flavor, but the agave kick provides some unexpected tart notes. It’s a fun little drink, meant to be shared with a friend.

Let’s run down the ingredients and talk about technique:

Ingredient shot. The Tequila Rose vanished romantically, with the help of my wife, just after this photo was taken. Matthew Hooper

Strawberry Infused Tequila: Infusing liquor with fruit is awesome. It takes a few days of preparation, but the end result is magic. It pays to be patient with your infusions. The longer you let the fruit go, the more intense the flavor. Regrettably, the fruit you use for this infusion won’t be edible afterwards. [Unless you're doing tequila pineapple. — Editrix] The tequila will leach every last drop of flavor and color from the strawberries. But that’s the price for greatness.

Tequila and fruit are natural partners, but feel free to play with any liquor that appeals to you. Pineapple and rum work extremely well together. Apples and bourbon would be fantastic. I’m not a fan of vodka under normal circumstances, but it does take infused flavors wonderfully.

I’m using El Jimador for this infusion because it’s inexpensive, mild, and tasty. Don’t use a pricey liquor for your infusions, but don’t use something you wouldn’t drink neat. Soaking bad liquor in fruit won’t make it good.

Depending on the fruit you’re using, you may need to add a little sugar to the final product. Strawberries by themselves are pretty tart. I added 2 oz. of agave syrup to the infused tequila, and the strawberry flavor improved immensely.

Strawberry Jam Syrup: The jam boosts the color and flavor of the drink well, and adds a little more body to the drink. It’s nothing fancy: Two parts jam to one part water, heated until the jam dissolves. If you use jelly or preserves, strain the syrup before adding it to the cocktail shaker.

Simple Syrup: The jam syrup didn’t make the cocktail quite sweet enough. A 2:1 sugar to water syrup helped balance the cocktail.

Half and Half: Mix all the non-alcoholic ingredients before adding the half and half. The goal is to reduce the proof of the cocktail before adding dairy, to prevent curdling.

Orange Bitters: I didn’t feel the various elements were combining well enough, so I used bitters to smooth out the rough edges. Cocoa bitters would also be a great choice here.

Vanilla Extract: Use the best you have, but even cheap vanilla will be fine. A tiny amount will boost the cream flavor and help balance the cocktail.

Red Food Coloring: I don’t like using artificial ingredients in cocktails. But a single drop of red food coloring makes this cocktail look great. Without it, the drink is barely pink.

Garnish: The chocolate rim on the glass doesn’t just provide visual interest. The bittersweet chocolate keeps the sweetness of the cocktail from being overwhelming. I made a rough and ready chocolate coating for this: ¼ cup chocolate chips, ½ tsp vegetable oil, microwave until smooth. Roll the lip of the glass in the chocolate at a 45 degree angle. Let it cool and harden.

This basic recipe will let you make a home made version of any crème liquor you might buy at the store. Off the top of my head:

House Bailey’s: Un-infused Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, brown sugar syrup, half and half.

House Rumchata: Cinnamon infused white rum, simple syrup, horchata, half and half.

Dole Whip: Pineapple-infused tequila, strained pineapple jam syrup, simple syrup, half and half.

Likewise, if you’re looking for a NA version of this cocktail, it would be easy to swap the infused tequila for additional jam syrup. Just remember to make enough for two. A drink like this is meant to be shared.

In summary and conclusion, drink well, drink often, and tip your bartender — donate to Wonkette at the link below! And if you'd like to buy some bar gear or books from Amazon, please click here!

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Matthew Hooper
Matthew Hooper, aka Samurai Grog, turned 50 in 2021 and decided to have a midlife crisis by leaving a boring sales and marketing job to tend bar at the local country club. He's never been happier. He's also a fencer, a dad, a husband, and a punk music fan. Overall, he's way cooler than he ever thought he could be when he was 16. 

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