I first spoke with Ian Smith, the bar manager at Las Palmas in Uptown, back in late February. Our online brunch guide—now on hold for obvious reasons—was almost finished, but I wanted to get more voice in there and definitely more booze fodder, too. (Day-drinking and brunch go hand-in-hand, right?) So, I tapped the bartending brains over at the Tex-Mex restaurant: bar lead Danny De La Sancha and Smith, who had just revamped their brunch drinks menu.
These guys weren’t just slinging the usual mimosa lineup. De La Sancha was was infusing tequila and vodka with bone marrow to give the spirits a gently savory, umami flavor, which would then meld with their fresh, housemade Bloody Mary mix. And Smith, who had been thinking about arroz con leche: a rice pudding his Mexican mother would make for him, but a cocktail version. While I personally can’t wait to drink such a dessert-like drink (and go to brunch again!), a girl’s still gotta drink. At home.
Long story short: I asked Smith to help me do that.
Each week on Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. I sign onto D Magazine‘s Instagram for a live session, and last week Smith came on to talk us through an easy cocktail, the Rose-Berry Smash. “A smash is essentially just a base spirit, sugar, mint or any other herb, and seasonal fruit,” says Smith. This one uses fresh rosemary (hence the “rose”) and strawberries. I made due with an herb-infused syrup and frozen blueberries I’d thawed out. We have to get creative in these times! If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, which you’ll need for this recipe, Smith suggests using whatever you’ve got on hand—a protein shaker, a tea strainer.
“Tequila smash—similar to a julep with the addition of season fruit, herb, spirit, and sugar—is so versatile, ” says Smith, which makes it the perfect at-home drink. “If you have lime juice or lemon, you could even use pineapple juice (just back off the syrup). You could even do bourbon.”
Yeah, we’re thirsty, too. Without further ado, you’re new favorite drink.
Rose-Berry Smash Cocktail
2 ounces tequila, blanco or reposado (Smith favors the latter for this recipe)
¾ of an ounce simple syrup or honey syrup
¾ of an ounce lemon or lime juice
Fresh seasonal fruit (a few strawberries or a hand full of blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries)
A couple sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary, mint, or basil)
For syrups, dissolve equal parts sugar or honey in hot water (so one cup of water with one cup choice of sweetener). Set aside and cool; store in the fridge for up to a week. Smith likes to use the honey syrup with reposado tequila to coax “velvety flavors of the reposado come out.” Place your berries in a cocktail shaker or shaker approximate. If using strawberries, give those a rough chop first. Then add tequila, syrup, juice, and a bit of fresh herbs (save some for garnish) to your shaker.
Muddle everything together with a muddler or whatever mashing tool you have in your kitchen arsenal. Get all those flavors nice and melded. Prep your glassware; Smith suggests a rocks glass. Add ice to your shaker full of happily mushed up ingredients, cover, then give it a vigorous shake—not too slow nor fast, or too long. You want to get everything nicely aerated to help the flavors balance. Smith’s pro-tip: “Bubbles at the top lets you know you’ve done a good job shaking.”
Pour into your glass. Garnish time! Grab some fresh herb, give it a little whack to bring out the aroma. Enjoy. Repeat. (And then repeat again for good measure.)
Rosin (pictured in top image, in the great earrings) and Ian (in the hat, at the Las Palmas bar top)
What do you want me to drink next? Leave a comment or drop me a line.