Category Archives: tequila

Angel Wings featuring RumChata

angel wings cocktail

I love challenging myself to come up with creative new ways to mix RumChata, and the cinnamon-and-cream deliciousness always mixes very well with other items in the bar.

Because Fall is coming soon, I’ve begun thinking about seasonal flavors I can mix with RumChata, and decided on a spiced concoction that turned out really beautiful and really tasty. I’ve named it the Angel Wings because of the deceptively pink-ness of the drink, which is surprisingly strong. Here’s how to make it:

Angel Wings (by Greg Mays)

  • in a cocktail shaker, combine:
  • 1 oz RumChata
  • 2 oz reposado tequila
  • 1/2 oz herbal liqueur (like Jägermeister)
  • 1/4 oz Grenadine
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with cherries

The spice and the tequila balance very well with the spices in RumChata and make for a bright, flavorful and tasty cocktail.

Special thanks to our sponsor RumChata.

Hornitos Plata and Hornitos Reposado

hornitos reposado and plata

Over half a century ago on Mexican Independence Day (September 16), Don Francisco Javier Sauza (yeah that same Sauza), created Hornitos tequila, an aromatic 100% blue agave experience that’s sweet and calming with a little bit of bite.

Hornitos Plata. This is Hornitos’ unaged tequila (“plata” is Spanish for silver). Plata has never made contact with wood barrels, so it’s a clear tequila. Because of its young age, Plata is more of an herbal and floral experience in the smell and taste. This is agave at its purest: very sweet, crisp and clean.

Hornitos Reposado. This “rested” tequila has an aromatic rush of blue agave, unexpected and exciting. The sting in the air that is immediately present in the nose of other tequilas is non-existent here. Instead, a sweet, calming waft of blue agave gets your attention. The flavor is mellow and very smooth, with a bit of welcome spice. Not a tequila I would associate with taking shots, Hornitos Reposado is smooth enough to sip, and enjoy the warmth in your chest of a nice, aged tequila.

Hornitos Reposado will run you $25 and Hornitos Plata, $20. The flavors of both are subtle, and though they’d be fine cocktail tequilas, I will likely enjoy Hornitos Reposado more often as a sipping tequila. The Plata is a little more floral and herbal than I’d prefer.

Hornitos Spiced Honey

hornitos spiced honey

Clearly, there are waves and trends that hit the liquor companies over the years, and I understand the legitimate need to create something new and keep buying eyes on your brand. When I started this blog, flavored vodkas were at their peak, and I even reviewed (it’s true) some of the stranger among them.

That initial wave of vodka flavors has subsided, though there’s always room for pleasant-tasting vodkas. Now, they’ve been replaced by flavored whiskeys and, in the past year or so, tequilas too.

When Lisa and I opened Hornitos Spiced Honey for the first time (podcast link), we weren’t sure what to expect. In fact, we guessed it could be similar to American Honey Sting, Wild Turkey’s ghost-pepper-infused whiskey. Thankfully, it’s not. This Hornitos variation (only their second flavor offering) is a “spiced honey liqueur,” a warm honey-and cinnamon combo that’s more like a tea companion than the dare shot that American Honey Sting is.

Spiced Honey is sweet, yes, but still comes in at the 35% ABV level, which is expected from flavored liquor these days. The flavors are natural and rich, but not overpowering, and it’s surprising how little you taste the tequila, which I’m sure is the point. Hornitos Spiced Honey is worth a try, and it is something I’d imagine mixes excellent with a cinnamon liqueur like RumChata or Chila Orchata or just in a White Russian or other desserty drink. At $20 a bottle, you’re bound to find some clever ways to enjoy this tequila.

We tasted Hornitos Spiced Honey on the Simple Cocktails Podcast. Click here to listen.

Hola Harvey

hola harvey wallbanger

I’ve covered Galliano before, the famous electric-yellow herbal liqueur from Italy. It’s the critical ingredient that turns a simple Screwdriver into the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail. We’ve tasted it a few months back on the podcast, too (listen here).

For Cinco de Mayo this year, I found a tropical recipe that riffs on the Harvey Wallbanger that’s both easy and tasty:

Hola Harvey

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 1 1/2 oz blanco tequila
  • 1/2 oz Galliano
  • 1 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lime wedge

 Special thanks to our sponsor Galliano L’Autentico.

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.


Sauza Sparkling Margaritas

sauza sparkling margarita

Sparkling Margaritas are a line of pre-made cocktails from tequila brand Sauza, available in original, wild berry, mango-peach, and the newest flavor: watermelon. A bottle will run you about $12 for a 750ml, with alcohol is right at 10% for all of the flavors.

I expected these to be something like a wine cooler or Bacardi Silver, based on malt liquor or maybe wine, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the ingredient list: silver tequila, triple sec, carbonation, and flavor – those are the actual ingredients to a Margarita!

When I make margaritas at home, I usually include a splash of club soda, so this is a familiar experience for me, though I’d admit that the Sparkling Margaritas are sweeter than I’m used to. These are a great party drink though because they’re so easy to serve, and if you drink them on the rocks, it cuts the sweetness down a bit.

sauza sparkling margarita

As far as the individual flavors, we had a tasting party and Original and the Watermelon were the favorites of the bunch (which the photo above helps to illustrate). The interesting thing is that Original and Watermelon are flavored “naturally”, while Wild Berry and Mango-Peach eliminate the word natural from their label.

It’s rare that you find decent bottled cocktails in stores, but this one fits the bill as good as any I have seen yet. Sauza Sparkling Margaritas get the ingredients right and outside of the usual cocktails, beer and wine, they’re a nice option to include at a party, too.

We tasted Sauza Sparkling Margaritas on the first episode of the Simple Cocktails Podcast.

Tequila Sunrise

tequila sunrise

Let me just begin by saying it was almost irresistible to NOT make an Eagles reference here. A lyric, a joke, anything. Be strong, Greg, be strong……

A Sunrise is a classic tequila drink, and a good one to practice layering with. The Tequila Sunrise takes progressively heavier liquids and serves them together, unstirred, for a cool “sunrise” effect in your glass. Add the ingredients in the order I show below:

Tequila Sunrise

  • in a glass filled with ice, slowly pour:
  • 1/2 oz granadine
  • 2 1/2 oz orange juice
  • 1 1/2 oz tequila
  • garnish with a lime wedge

When you serve a Sunrise, give the drinker a stir stick or sipper straw so that they can stir their cocktail before drinking.

Jose Cuervo Cinge (Cinnamon Tequila)

jose cuervo cinged carmel aple cocktail

Jose Cuervo Cinge is a new cinnamon-infused tequila that retails for about $18. As you may know, Cuervo is the top-selling tequila brand in the world, and since vodka and whiskey have embraced the flavored liquor trend, it’s no surprise to see tequila flavors, too.

Cinge is sweet and spicy, though mostly spicy, vaguely reminding me of a Fireball candy. Because Cuervo isn’t a 100% agave brand, the mugginess of tequila is eclipsed by the cinnamon burn, and your lips will be left sticky and sweet. Cinge has a unique flavor that makes for some fun cocktail recipes, and since tequila mixes well with apple, here’s a recipe for you to try:

Firey Cinged Apple (by Greg Mays)

  • 2 oz Jose Curevo Cinge
  • 2 oz apple juice
  • 1 oz caramel liqueur (I used Lovoka)
  • stir and serve on the rocks

Tequonic Cocktail

tequonic cocktail

Tonic water isn’t just a handy mixer with gin (though that’s the most common). You can substitute any base liquor for gin and see how it works with tonic water. This cocktail is a fun variation on a margarita, as the tonic water takes the place of the sweet triple sec. Enjoy!


  • in an old fashioned glass filled with ice, add:
  • 2 oz tequila
  • juice and shell of 1/2 a lime
  • top with tonic water