4 mins

3 boozy cocktails from Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula

From 'beer soup' to chili-infused margaritas, these Mexican cocktails are what Fridays are made for

Margarita (Shutterstock)


Makes 1 drink

A Michelada is one of those classic drinks with a thousand variations, every one of them definitive: the version you make is the right one, and all the others get it wrong. Basically, make a spicy, richly flavored base that tastes like bouillon spiked with Tabasco and lime, pour it into a glass filled with ice, and top off with a dark beer that has just enough backbone to stand up to it.

The drink changes minute by minute: you take a sip, the ice melts, you top up the glass with more beer, the Maggi seasoning and Worcestershire sauce become more pronounced. If you use a straw, the drink starts intense and mellows out; if you just drink from the glass, it starts clean and grows more potent.

A Michelada is like a frosty, spicy beer soup, which might sound weird, but it’s one of the great cocktails of all time. It’s best in a glass that has been chilled in the freezer. Brand names matter. You must use Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, Maggi seasoning, and Tabasco.

Kosher salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon Maggi seasoning
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cups crushed ice
One 12-ounce bottle Negra Modelo
A straw for serving

Moisten the rim of a glass and rim with salt. Add the Worcestershire sauce, Maggi seasoning, Tabasco, and lime juice and stir. Add the crushed ice, top off with beer, and insert the straw. Serve with the rest of the bottle of beer on the side.

Piña-Habanero Margarita

Makes 1 drink

Thick, fruity, spicy: this is a margarita with a lot of personality. It’s also a drink best made in batches. If you do your prep ahead of time (infuse the tequila with the habanero 36 hours before; puree fresh pineapple in a blender earlier in the day), you can mix together one round after another after your guests arrive.

A trick from behind the bar: Shake the drink and pour two-thirds of it into the glass, then shake the rest of the drink again before topping it off, so that the margarita has a slightly frothy head.

Table salt
Chile Lime Salt (see below for recipe)
1 scant shot tequila reposado
½ shot Habanero Tequila
½ shot Cointreau
½ cup pineapple puree (or substitute fresh pineapple juice)
Combine all the liquor and the pineapple puree in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into the glass and serve.
Habanero Tequila
4 ounces tequila reposada, 100% agave
1 habanero, halved

1. Pour some table salt onto a small plate and the chile lime salt onto another one. Moisten the rim of a glass and roll it in the table salt, then in the chile salt.

2. Combine the tequila and habanero in a jar, seal tightly, and let infuse for 36 hours. (You can go as little as 24 hours, or as long as 48 hours, depending on how much heat you want.)
Remove the habanero and reseal the jar.

Chile Lime Salt

Makes about 2 tablespoons

Our version of a finishing salt, this brings a note of intrigue to any dish. It’s simple to make: Toast dried árbol chiles in a cast-iron pan, pulverize them in a spice grinder, and mix in lime zest and salt. That’s it. The smoky, spicy, tangy salt is just the right flourish for grilled fish, but you can use it in or on just about any dish.

4 dried árbol chiles
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Grated zest of 3 limes

Toast the chiles in a dry cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Pulse the chiles in a spice grinder to a fine powder. Mix with the salt and lime zest. Store in a tightly sealed jar in a cool place.


Makes 1 drink

This drink makes a stunning first impression when you set it down. The choice of mezcal is important: you want it strong and smoky so the flavor comes through the sweetness of the mandarin juice. A mild mezcal will disappear.

1 cup fresh mandarin orange juice (or regular orange juice)
1 shot smoky mezcal
1 tablespoon brewed jamaica (hibiscus) tea (brewed from 1 teabag or loose dried hibiscus flowers), chilled
2 slices lime, for garnish

Fill a glass with ice. Pour in the orange juice and mezcal and stir to combine. Gently pour in the hibiscus tea so that it stains the top of the drink and slowly filters through the orange juice. Garnish with the lime slices.

These recipes are taken from Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry (Artisan Books, £27.99). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.

Main image: Margarita (Shutterstock)

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