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JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Tequila has a bad rap, largely because of its association with hastily downed shooters followed by the trifecta of salt/saliva/lemon. "It's a shame," says Lauren Mote, the award-winning bar manager at The Refinery in Vancouver, "because tequila is really a sophisticated drink."

To give customers a sense of its subtlety, Mote has created a cocktail that "aims to deliver tasting notes of smoke, citrus and spice." But if it sounds complex, making the Toro is easy. Before the fiesta, two steps: Make a simple syrup, add raw green peppercorns and bruised lemongrass leaves and steep overnight, then create your own flavoured salt using guajillo chilies, kosher salt and a food processor. Once the custom components are ready, combine the cocktail ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake vigorously for 10 seconds and strain over ice into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with blanched pineapple leaves or lime peel. Salud!

Recipe

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1 1/2 ounces tequila

1/2 ounce Fee Brothers Lemon Bitters

3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

1 ounce lemongrass-and-raw-green-peppercorn syrup

1 pinch guaijillo chili salt

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About the Author

Deirdre Kelly is a features writer for The Globe and Mail. She is the author of the best-selling Paris Times Eight and Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection (Greystone Books). More

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