Summer cocktails you might have missed

Brian Rung

    The beaches are empty, it's baseball and football season, and depending on where you live, fall may or may not be in the air.
    The change of seasons is officially upon us as we mark the end of summer on Sept. 22. Does your drink of choice change with seasons? Mine certainly does.
    My summer is mostly rum and tequila cocktails while cool fall and winter nights are made for bourbon, Scotch and Irish whiskey.
    Since I know that I will be taking a break from light rum and tequila for a few months, this is the time of year when I like to enjoy a few of the cocktails that I have either missed this year or cocktails that I have never tried before.
    I'll bet that you have a shot or two left in that bottle of tequila from your August pool party, or perhaps you have some rum leftover from those July 4th Daiquiris.
    This week we are going beyond the margarita and the Daiquiri to make four delicious rum and tequila cocktails to toast the end of summer. All four of this week's cocktails are simple to make and easy to enjoy. In fact, any or all of these drinks would be great “first” cocktails for anyone new to mixology.
    Before we get into the cocktails, let's lay a few ground rules for selecting your tequila. Always, and I mean always, use tequila that is labeled 100 percent agave. Read the label carefully. “Made from agave” is not the same as 100 percent agave. Legally speaking, tequila can be 51 percent tequila and 49 percent artificial coloring, flavoring, preservatives, etc., and will meet the legal definition of tequila.  
    Tequilas of this variety are called “mixtos” and you would be surprised just how many famous brands are not 100 percent agave tequilas. I will not spoil the surprise for you. Read some labels in the tequila aisle on your next trip to your local spirits retailer.
    By the way, the “other stuff” in your mixto tequila is guaranteed to give the worst of the worst when it comes to hangovers. If you had a horrible tequila experience in college I'll bet that it was a mixto loaded with artificial gold and caramel coloring, and I'll bet that his initials were JC.
    A good 100 percent agave tequila will set you back around $20. The best labels at the entry level price point are Hornito's, Altos, Jimador, EL Padrino, Tierra Fertil and Milagro.
    Rum production on the other hand is fairly consistent anywhere north of the $10 price point depending on you state and local taxes. Cruzan light rum is one of the best values in the spirits world, and Flor de Cana is even better for a buck or two more.
    Bacardi light rum is fine for mixing, but will bring a tad more ethanol burn and less sweetness when compared to other light rums. That's not a knock on Bacardi. Remember that Bacardi is actually a Cuban recipe and is designed to be stronger on the palate than the Virgin Island rums.
    Let's start with our tequila cocktails. The Mayan Mule is a Moscow Mule with a tequila twist and calls for ginger beer. Ginger beer is non-alcoholic, more of a spicy, ginger soda. Fever Tree, Cock'n Bull and Gosling's all turn out quality, widely available ginger beer.
Mayan Mule
    The Mayan Mule is built and served in a Collins (tall) glass.
    Add 2 oz. 100 percent agave tequila, blanco or reposado.
    Add 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice.
    Add 2 dashes Angostura bitters.
    Add 3 oz. ginger beer.
    Stir and garnish with lime wheel.
    The Matador Cocktail is built in a shaker and served in lowball glass.
    Fill shaker with ice.
    Add 1 oz. tequila.
    Add 3 oz. Dole pineapple juice.
    1/2 oz. fresh lime juice.
    Shake and strain into glass over fresh ice.
    The rum cocktails are also straightforward recipes. I prefer Bol's orange curacao in the El Presidente, but any orange liqueur will work so long as it is labeled curacao as opposed to triple sec.
El Presidente
    The El Presidente is built in a mixing glass, served in a cocktail (Martini) glass.
    Fill mixing glass with ice.
    Add 1 1/2 oz. light rum.
    Add 3/4 oz. dry vermouth (Noilly Prat is my favorite).
    Add 3/4 oz. orange curacao.
    Add dash of grenadine.
    Stir and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Monkey Wrench
    The Monkey Wrench cocktail is built and served in an Collins (tall) glass
    Add ice to glass.
    Add 1 1/2 oz. light rum.
    Add 3 oz. fresh grapefruit juice.
    Add dash of Angostura bitters.
    Stir lightly and serve.
    Until next week, enjoy responsibly.