The newest member of Team Embury, Tanner Sarff, taking a testing whiff of a punch he worked up for Justin Violinis' party for the launch of his Fearless Project. Milagro gave us some bottles of Silver to work with,requesting that we do one batch of their signature Milagro Freshest Margarita (2 parts Silver, 1 part lime juice, 3/4 part of their own branded and really quite good amber agave-makes a foolproof, perfectly sweet margarita) and left us to come up with one of our own. While kicking around ideas I was reminded of a classic soda pop-y Mexican approach to margaritas using Squirt instead of fresh citrus, and when I mentioned it to Tanner he perked up--being from Arizona where Squirt is quite popular and had some ideas right off the bat. In New York, as events would prove, it is quite hard to find. (Eventually I found litre bottles at a D'Agastino on Christopher Street.) We had a batch of Mark Buettler's one-of-a-kind home made Sriracha bitters that we really wanted to take out for a spin, and Tanner set out to create something working with these elements.
Muddling up some strawberries was a brainwave that proved successful.
When trying out ideas that will eventually be made into a punch it's extremely useful to make individual serving sized drinks first, and to use a jigger to keep track of your ratios. This makes fine tuning far simpler, and allows you to easily replicate the recipe on a large scale by simply recreating that ratio, using a measuring cup instead of a jigger. Using a 1 ounce/2 ounce jigger works well when your bigger measuring cup is a 2 cupper.
Pouring little amuse bouche size servings in shot glasses is a very civilized way to taste each iteration as it evolves, and you're not stuck with a full cocktail that sort of demands to be consumed--when trying recipes there's no need to drink the whole thing, as you may easily lose track of your results after a few. This method keeps your consumption at a more moderate, manageable pace. Until you give in and go all Cookie Monster when you hit the winning combination. Which is okay too.
Again, the ace in the hole here (aside from the hard-to-find Squirt) were the most-likely unique sriracha bitters.
Tanner added a little extra citrus to sort of freshen up the Squirt's tangy grapefruit flavor profile, just a bit of lemon and lime. Sometimes you get it right in just a couple tries and this time it happened-the second batch was pretty much spot on and rather than further mess with it we just went ahead and built a punch size batch in a Montana Jar.
Naming a drink can be incredibly easy or incredibly hard--and often I find really good drinks that you'd like to share can be quite tricky--stakes are high, as you think this one might actually become popular in some small way. This time we got a great drink but a safe fallback name.
2 Parts Milagro Silver
1 Part Squirt
1/4 Part Lime
1/4 Part Lemon
1 slice of Jalapeno per serving
You get this great pink punch, with a layer of slightly ominous strawberry protoplasm. The slice of jalapeno mans up what could otherwise be a bit pretty, and a pinch of Murray River Pink Salt on top of the drink makes it pretty bad ass. So we packed up our punches and headed down to the party-photos in the second half of the post.
Sampling starfruit, which Tanner added as a garnish to the Milagro Freshest Margaritas, dropping a few into the punch jar as well.
Tanner's Punch, with slices of jalapeno for garnish.
The space, basically a basement underneath a Spanish American restaurant on the lower, lower East Side, filled up quickly and Tanner's Punch went fast.
Jaime Salas, Milagro's Brand Ambassador, dropped by-that's him on the left.
As did Friend Of Embury Jason Schell.
Photographer Paul Reitz stopped by, too.