This fresh cocktail balances light citrus and herbal notes from the infused syrup with bubbly club soda and smooth blanco tequila. Substitute gin for a more prominent botanical flavor.
August is the laziest month, in the best possible way. It seems to move a little slower than the other months of the year—in theory because of the heat, in fact because so many people are on vacation. It’s sluggish, languid even, but always welcoming. (After all, it’s far more fun to be lazy with friends.) All of that makes August, in my mind, the best month for leisurely dinners outside, for grilling in the backyard or by the beach or the lake, for cooking unfussy food. This means, of course, that it’s also prime frozen cocktail season.My most recent slushy obsession is a tequila, cucumber, and coconut water creation, blended up with cilantro and lime and rimmed with a mix of chili powder, sumac, and salt. It’s an ode to my favorite Mexican street snack: fruta con chile y limón, little bags of sliced mango, cucumber, and jicama usually sprinkled with Tajín, a spicy and sour snack seasoning. I make the icy concoction in big batches, and it never lasts very long, but a little advance prep and direction empowers my guests to blend more themselves without disturbing my valuable chill time. I peel and chop several cucumbers in advance, portion them out, and freeze them before guests arrive; squeeze lots of lime into a bowl; and chop an extra-big bunch of herbs on the side. The chili-salt mixture sits on a plate on the counter for people to sprinkle and rim as they please. And any extra doubles as seasoning for crunchy veggies, grilled corn on the cob, or a platter of watermelon. It’s August at its best.
If you blithely follow the interwebs, you may have come to the conclusion that tequila is a miracle drink. In the past year, stories have bounced around about the wonders of Mexico’s most famous spirit: It’ll help you lose weight, improve the bacteria in your gut, lower blood sugar levels, fight cholesterol and even reduce your chances of developing dementia. Most of these claims, unfortunately, are boneheaded. And, honestly, declaring any 80-proof liquor to be “good for you” is mighty suspect in the first place.However, there is a tiny shred of truth to the idea that tequila won’t damage you as cavalierly as some other spirits might. One hundred percent blue agave blanco tequilas—which, unlike reposados or añejos, aren’t aged in wood—are low in congeners, the chemical impurities that are hard for your system to process and can exacerbate hangovers. Also, since these tequilas are made solely from a succulent plant and not a grain, the gluten-averse among us can relax. But will tequila make you thinner? Well...it has no fewer calories than any other spirit of equal strength. But if you drink it straight, at least you’re not adding any calories. And our favorite bottles, featured here, all taste fantastic in a glass by themselves, with a rock or without. —Ray Isle
Vital for margaritas, for palomas, and for the occasional shot, blanco tequila is a workhorse; your liquor cabinet isn’t complete without it. So for National Tequila Day, we’re bringing you our favorites. Lightly aged reposado and long-aged añejo are entirely different animals, but for the moment, we’ll concentrate on the best unaged tequila. Here are twelve of the best. —Carey Jones