We asked beverage expert and 2010 JBF Awards spirits chair Steve Olson about the newest trend in spirits and how he slakes his thirst in the summer. You can learn more about his education and consulting company, aka wine geek, at akawinegeek.com.
Q: What do you drink to cool down in the summer?
A: I love a good, cold, handcrafted beer in the summer. I also enjoy aromatic white wines, like a Sigalas Assyrtiko from Santorini, and tall, cool cocktails, such as a Southside (made with Tanqueray No. Ten gin and mint) or citrus-based drinks like a caipirinha (made with cachaça and fresh limes).
Q: In this issue we’re featuring barbecue trivia. What do you like to drink with barbecue?
A: To me, barbecue is summer, so all of the drinks I mentioned apply! That said, when I actually have the ribs on my plate (and the ’cue sauce on my fingers), what could be better than a perfectly made margarita with 100 percent agave tequila (such as Chinaco), Grand Marnier, and fresh lime juice?
Q: We’ve read that gin is making a comeback. What other spirit is poised for a revival in the mixology industry?
A: The next hot spirit is authentic, artisanal mezcal from Mexico. I have been in love with this smoky and peppery elixir for many years, and it makes me so happy to see Americans truly beginning to appreciate it. Next time you feel like having a margarita, just add 1/4 ounce of mezcal, such as Del Maguey Single Village Chichicapa, to the mix—it is akin to adding the smoke and the spice to barbecue. I also love the mezcal cocktail called the Oaxacan Dream (recipe below).
Recipe: Oaxacan Dream
2 ounces Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal
1 ounce pineapple juice
3/4 ounce cranberry juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/4 ounce agave syrup
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice, cover, and shake vigorously. Strain the mixture into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a thin wedge of pineapple and serve.