Liquidity: Spicy Like Sunday Morning
By Andrew Bender
Brunch, booze, the gays -- a longstanding tradition. But while we've always supported hair-of-the dog decadence, waking up with the same old mimosa every Sunday is a bit like waking up next to the same old trick. Fortunately, mixologists and bar tenders have gotten as bored as we have. The result? A new breed of spicy brunch cocktails.
The day-after drink of the moment is the Michelada, a Tex-Mex fave and the guy-next-door of the bunch. It starts out like a Bloody Mary (lime, pepper, Tabasco, Worcestershire, soy sauce, salted rim), but beer replaces the vodka and tomato juice. Erin Lindsey, bar manager at the lesbian-owned Hotel San Jose in Austin, Texas, says it's best served with Mexican beer (though none of the other ingredients are authentically Mexican).
At Red O in Los Angeles, chef Rick Bayless's first foray outside Chicago, the brunch beverage of choice is the Alacr'n, a sassed-up margarita of medium-aged reposado tequila, orange liqueur, VeeV a'a' spirit, limonada (lime juice with simple syrup), and chili-mint syrup brought to you by the restaurant's resident drinkslinger, Steven Calabro. The glass arrives dipped in Taj'n, a seasoning made of dried chiles, salt, and dehydrated lime juice.
Richard Sandoval's Zengo restaurants (in Denver, New York City, Santa Monica, and Washington, D.C.) fuse East Asian and south-of-the-border flavors, as does their signature brunch cocktail: a margarita with tamarind paste and Japanese seven-spice togarashi powder. If you like tequila but dumped the salted-back-of-the-hand-and-lime-wedge routine after that misbegotten spring-break fling, this is the one to try (plus, the togarashi is perfect for dipping cucumber crudit's). And for the really thirsty, Phil Ward of Manhattan's Mayahuel suggests a pitcher of Spicy Paloma Punch, in which grapefruit juice, lime juice, and sugar muzzle the bite of jalape'o-muddled tequila. Float club soda and a pinch of salt over the top for an extra spark.
Three to Try
Spicy paloma punch (pictured)
Mayahuel, New York City
24 ounces Espolón Tequila Blanco
6 ounces sugar
6 small jalapeños, halved
12 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
9 ounces fresh lime juice
12 ounces club soda
⅛ ounce salt
Muddle sugar with jalape'o seeds and tequila. Add juices and shake with ice. Strain into rocks glass. Top with club soda and a pinch of salt.
Hotel San Jose, Austin
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Mexican beer (preferably Modelo Especial)
Rub lime on the rim of a 20-ounce glass. Dip rim in salt. Fill glass two-thirds with ice. Add lime juice. Add three grinds of pepper, three shakes of Tabasco and Worcestershire, and a splash of soy sauce. Pour beer into glass. Garnish with lime wedge and straw.
Zengo, multiple locations
1 ounces el Jimador tequila
1 ounce tamarind pure
2 ounces sour mix
Shake well and pour into a togarashi salt-rimmed cocktail glass.