Cactus Juice

espelon tequila and cactus juice cocktail

It’s going to be a little hard to hold this one in, because I discovered one of the best tequila cocktails I’ve ever tried. Stay tuned for the recipe – first, let’s talk about Espolón Tequila.

Espolón is a 20-year-old tequila brand and produces the typical blanco/reposado/añejo portfolio of tequilas, but we’ll focus on Espolón Añejo for two reasons. First, it’s only recently available in the United States (you won’t yet find it on the company’s website, in fact). Second, the añejo’s aging is finished in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels. While bourbon barrels are not uncommon for tequila aging, I suppose the specificity of the fact that these are in Wild Turkey barrels makes it all the more interesting to me.

Espolón Añejo, at $35 a bottle, is a really nice experience. Many a tequila maker is trying to sway the reputation of their product from the “shooter” market, and highlighting the quality you’ll find in a fine tequila, and this is one of those. This is not a muggy, sour tequila experience, and while you will certainly taste tequila in your glass of Espolón Añejo, this is much more of an oaky, crisp, smooth-drinking experience. I replaced my nightly glass of whiskey with it for a few days, and found it to be an equivalent experience, though somehow wetter and more refreshing than the brashness (not an insult) of whiskey.

So here’s the deal: a quality aged tequila is different than even a quality unaged tequila, and your cocktail recipes should reflect that. I found the following recipe, which contains a small amount of the Scotch-based liqueur Drambuie, and between Drambuie’s smokiness and the grittiness of the granulated sugar, this is a very tasty cocktail to drink with an añejo tequila, particularly one with whiskey elements like Espolón Añejo. Try it out:

Cactus Juice

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 1 1/2 oz Espolón Añejo
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Drambuie
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • shake with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass on the rocks
  • garnish with a lemon slice

We make Cactus Juice on the Simple Cocktails Podcast. Listen here.


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