Celebrate | National Margarita Day


La Pinta Pomegranate-Infused TequilaThe best days, I think, are when I come home to a liquor delivery on my doorstep.

What made last night’s delivery even better was that is was a new tequila to try out, just in time for National Margarita Day.

First things first, y’all know how much I adore good packaging and this bottle of La Pinta from Casa Tradición ultra-premium tequila line delivers that in spades.

But looks aren’t everything, how does it taste?

Smooth. Sweet and savory. The unmistakable scent and flavor of tequila and the tart, sweet taste of pomegranate.

I would (and did) drink this straight. And I don’t usually drink liquor straight.

It was that good.

But it’s National Margarita Day, so it’s time to put this tequila to work!

According to Margaritaville (and who better to ask), Jimmy Buffet’s favorite Margarita goes like this:

The Perfect Margarita (Jimmy’s favorite):

1 oz Margaritaville Gold Tequila
.5 oz Margaritaville Silver Tequila
.5 oz Triple Sec
.5 oz Orange Curacao
.5 oz Lime juice
2 Lime Wedges

Rim margarita glass with salt.  Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.  Squeeze limes and add to tin.  Shake vigorously and pour into a margarita glass and enjoy.

Now, we all know what I think about triple sec (just say no!) and I seemed to be somehow out of limes–the horror!

But when you have a fabulous tequila like the La Pinta around, a missing lime is so far from the end of the world it’s not even worth worrying about.

La Pinta Pomegranate MargaritaInstead, I concocted my own cocktail which I think shows off the tequila to great advantage.

La Pinta Pomegranate Margarita

1.5 oz La Pinta Pomegranate Infused Tequila
1 oz Cointreau
juice of 1 Clementine or Mandarin orange
salt for rimming the glass

Salt the rim of your chosen cocktail glass and add a few ice cubes to it. Combine all ingredients and half the clementine in a shaker over ice and shake like a maraca! Strain into the prepared glass and garnish with a wedge of clementine.

It’s got the sweet, it’s got the salt, it’s got the tart and that not-really-sour but more of an umami flavor that just says tequila and without which you can’t call it a margarita.

And if you don’t have La Pinta handy, combining a high quality tequila with some pomegranate liqueur and you might be able to get close.

How are you celebrating National Margarita Day?

I was provided a sample of La Pinta Pomegranate Infused Tequila for review, all opinions are my own.

Cocktail Gifts Galore


On Monday I told you about a fabulous trip that would make a romantic Valentine’s gift if ever there was one. If that trip is a little out of your budget (the way it is mine), here are some other gift ideas for the cocktail lover in your life that might not make your wallet faint:

Along the lines of Divino Tuscany, but a bit closer to home, if you’re near Paso Robles, California, or will be on March 31, 2012, consider gifting yourself or your loved ones the “Olfactory Evaluation of Wine” class led by Alexandre Schmitt at Niner Wine Estates. Learn exactly what all those notes about “noses” mean in this afternoon class for wine pros and enthusiasts alike. At $125 per person it’s practically a steal! Make sure to RSVP, though, as spots are limited.

Engraveable bottles of Double Cross Vodka
Prefer something a little more portable? How about an engraved bottle of premium vodka? Double Cross (seems like a dubious name for a Valentine’s gift, right? never fear, it refers to the double cross on the Slovakian coat of arms) vodka is offering just that for $39.99 (engraving may be extra  is free!). Email gifts@doublecrossvodka.com for specifics.

More from California, but this time from the comfort of your own home! The New York Times’ Knowledge Network (didn’t know there was such a thing, did you?) is offering a California Wines: Napa Cabernet course for the very reasonable rate of $65. A perfect gift for the online learner who’d love to know more about this very popular varietal.

Pop Chart Lab's Constitutions of Classic Cocktails poster

Got a visually-inclined cocktail enthusiast in your life? Consider this new (and very awesome, it’s definitely on my wish-list) print from Pop Chart Lab, Constitutions of Classic Cocktails, for a mere $36. It’s like a maze, with awesome drinks at the end–who wouldn’t like to solve that one?!

Glenfiddich 125th anniversary bottling

For the scotch lovers out there, be on the lookout for the Glenfidditch Cask of Dreams 125th Anniversary special bottling. Only 3500 bottles will be available, starting this month, at a suggested retail of $99. Get it while you can!

And, finally, if you’ll allow me a shameless plug of my own: You’ve seen the cocktails I create each Friday here at Sips and Shots, but did you realize that you can have your very own signature drink created just for you (or a loved one)? Character Cocktails are custom-designed cocktails based on the recipients personality and presented as a ready-to-frame piece of original art for $67, shipping included. Gift certificates (real, live, hold-in-your-hand ones as well as printables for you last-minute sort) are available at the Character Cocktail site.

50 Shots of America–Oregon

The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail

For the longest time I thought Oregon was more inland… somewhere more in the Idaho area, for some reason. I just couldn’t imagine it on the coast. At least I didn’t think it was an island, right?

What I *was* fairly sure of was that lots of people traveled to Oregon in the wagoneering days of the mid-1800s (back when you could die from a broken arm–way to scare kids, folks!). This knowledge came from the old computer game The Oregon Trail where you had to safely get your family from point A to point B in 200 or so days with very little money (even by the standards of the time) and a whole passel of children who liked to wander off as well as being accident-prone.

I got a refresher on this game when I found it on my cell phone. It’s been updated somewhat–more activities requiring coordination rather than just guess-work problem solving skills, but it’s still the same game I remember playing during “College for Kids” (gifted program in elementary school: one day a week we’d go to a college campus and get to take special, fun classes, like programming the triangular “turtle” of an Apple IIc to make pretty pictures on the screen).

But I digress.

Despite my earlier misconceptions, Oregon is actually on the West Coast of the US and became our 33rd state on February 14, 1859. Man, can you imagine the other states’ reactions?

“You gave Oregon statehood for Valentine’s Day, what did you get me? A lousy tax break? Harumph!”

But I digress. Again.

Let’s just get to the drink, shall we?

The Oregon Trail

1/2 oz Hazelnut Liqueur
1/2 oz Apple Brandy
1 oz Cola

Combine alcohols over ice and shake briskly. Pour in the cola and swirl to chill before straining the finished drink into a chilled cocktail glass.

Turns out, in addition to having lots of breweries and wineries and growing tons of hops, potatoes, apples and pears, Oregon is big in the hazelnut world–90+% of the countries hazelnuts right in the Pacific NW! Go Oregon! So, of course, I’m thinking ‘hello, Frangelico,’ and Applejack hasn’t been used in a while. The soda ensures that tasty caramel color, which I would imagine was what that trail looked like much of the time (though probably not as tasty as this drink!). Your first sip might remind you a bit of a rich root beer float, with just a kick from the apple brandy.


Did you know that today, October 1, is  National Sake Day?

I’ve got some pear sake on the bar and decided to give it a go in the Oregon Trail, in place of the Applejack. It’s not bad! Compared the the original, it’s a bit smoother (according to my helper-taster, Todd) with an almost unctuous mouth-feel. There’s the little tang of sake at the end, making it a somewhat complex taste but definitely satisfying.

If you’re feeling a little cross-cultural, why not give it a try and tell me what you think?