Cocktail of the Week: The CantaritoBy Brad Japhe
According to the scientists charged with these sorts of things, Spring has officially sprung. It’s time to start drinking like it. What does that entail, exactly? Think lighter, fizzier fare, with a crisp, refreshing edge. Or, ya know, the types of tipples Mexicans tend to enjoy year round. In desert-like climates south of the border, citrus and bubbles are always in high demand. Hardly a surprise, then, that this part of the world gifted us with the Margarita and the Paloma. But as widespread as these tequila cocktails have become, there is a springtime-sipper equally as beloved in Mexico that continues to fly under the radar here in the States: the Cantarito. A sessionable, seasonal delight, it’s deserving of your full attention, now more than ever.
A Cantarito at Sauza’s Agave Fields
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE CANTARITO
“The Cantarito is a refreshing mix of citrus and tequila that some say is the forefather of the Paloma,” explains Bobby Gleason, Master Mixologist with Hornitos brand tequila. “The combination of the citrus and tequila are a match made in heaven!” Many Mexicans tend to agree. After all, it’s not every drink that demands its very own vessel (well-played Moscow Mule). In Mexico, this drink is properly served in a diminutive clay jar, known as a ‘cántaro,’ from which it derives its name.
Order the Cantarito at any self-respecting watering hole in Guadalajara and it arrives iced, in ceramic, garnished with all sorts of fresh citrus fruit. The Quinta Real Hotel shakes up a strong example, the grace of the drink’s smooth body echoed in its elegant presentation, atop a copper-clad bar. With a dizzying selection of agave spirit lining the back bar, landing on the proper tequila is no simple task. Gleason, of course, recommends using Hornitos Plata. Given the unaged tequila’s clean, zesty, body it’s hard to disagree with his selection. This particular silver also has a touch of white pepper in the finish which adds vibrancy to the cocktail’s underlying effervescence.
A Cantarito at Quinta Real
HOW TO MAKE A CANTARITO COCKTAIL
– 1 1/2 oz Hornitos Plata tequila
– 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
– 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
– 1/2 oz fresh orange juice
– Grapefruit soda
– Lemon, lime and orange wedges for garnish
– Salt for rimming (optional)
Here Bobby Gleason explains his recipe and preparation for a classic Cantarito cocktail:
“In a mixing glass combine ½ ounce each of lemon, lime, and orange juice with 1 ½ ounce of Hornitos Plata tequila. Shake with ice then strain over fresh ice in a tall glass. You can rim the glass with kosher salt or even Tajín if you like. Top with a grapefruit soda and garnish with a lemon & lime wheel.
If you are lucky enough to have a Cántaro clay cup, simply squeeze in 2 or 3 wedges each of lemon, lime and orange then add ice, tequila and top with grapefruit soda. If you don’t have grapefruit soda squeeze a wedge of grapefruit in as well and top with club soda or a your favorite lemon lime soda for a little extra sweetness.”
Regardless of your tequila preference, for this particular arrangement, it’s best to stick with blancos. Reposados and añejos find work elsewhere. The earthy, vegetal notes of unaged agave spirit finds a satisfying foothold against a bevy of bitter fruits landing on top. And if you can’t source a cántaro from your cupboard, don’t be deterred. The only essential elements here are quality tequila, fresh citrus juice, and grapefruit soda. The undeniable appeal of the Cantarito, however, might make you consider an imminent investment in clayware.
Want to make your own Cantarito cocktail?