Archive for Boozy

La Taqueria: Small Space, Big Flavors

Last week I got invited down to the Hastings location of La Taqueria to sample their new cocktail menu.

Now, I have to say, I don’t think it’s weird for a taco place to be small. In fact, I think the most legit ones are. But this location of La Taqueria, which was Vancouver’s first (they now have 6), is tiny. There’s a bar, and a few seats, maybe 20 people can fit in there at most.

La Taqueria Cocktail Menu

But what they can do with that tiny kitchen and bar??!? Let’s just say that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The overall effect is kind of like hitting up a mom-and-pop taco stand somewhere in Mexico, but with really great cocktails.

La Taqueria owner, Marcelo Ramirez, enlisted the help of Simon Aukett for creating the new cocktail program. Recently moved here from London, UK, Simon has been making magic at the Keefer for the last couple of years. Here, he turned his attention to creating spins on classic cocktails, but using tequila and mezcal as the base spirits.

Simon Aukett La Taqueria

I love cocktails. I drink a lot of them. Whenever I go into a restaurant, I love to sit at the bar so I can watch the bartenders and ask them questions. And what’s important to a really good cocktail is not the base spirit, or the garnish, or the flourish with which it is presented. It’s whether or not the cocktail is balanced. You want it to be not too sweet, but not too acidic, either. You want bitter notes, floral notes, maybe some heat if it’s warranted. But overall, it needs to balance, and all La Taqueria’s new cocktails, whether heavier or lighter or spicy or not, were beautifully balanced.

La Taqueria Nachos

Oh–and because it’s never good to drink cocktails on an empty stomach, you should probably eat something, right? I love restaurants that are vegetarian and vegan friendly, and La Taqueria is very much that. The guacamole is chunky and the chips are freshly-made. The nachos come with sweet corn and a chipotle crema that sings. And you can’t leave without trying the churros (which are baked and not fried to avoid cross-contamination), which come, of course, with dulce de leche for dipping.

La Taqueria churros

Okay, the cocktails!

They run the gamut from light, summery sippers, similar to a margarita (if that’s your jam, look for Shifting Sands or Sunset), to heavier cocktails with warmer spices, heat and smoke.

I really enjoyed the lighter cocktails, but it’s March, and it’s gross out, so heavier and more warming are where it’s at right now.

Bad Hombre La Taqueria

The Bad Hombre is warming alright: the base is Wild Turkey, with a little mezcal for smoke. It also has ginger, chartreuse, and habanero, which gives it quite the kick going down. it’s warm and spicy.

Sangre Y Humo La Taqueria

I also really loved the Sangre Y Humo. The base spirit here is Mezcal, but with some beautiful floral notes from hibiscus, herbaciousness from cilantro, vermouth and orange to even it out.

And speaking of warming, it doesn’t get much warmer than Sinner Man. The name is a play on ‘cinnamon,’ as the cocktail is garnished with a still-smoking torched cinnamon stick. It starts with 3-yr-old Havana rum, and includes saffron and grapefruit, and falerhum, a mexican-spiced rum. Very tasty.

The new cocktail menu at La Taqueria launches this weekend, do yourself a favour and get out of the cold and into some warm food and cocktails.

La Taquria

322 W Hastings St.

Making Cocktails with Shrubs (Drinking Vinegar)

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know that I try to pack as much probiotics into my diet as I can in the form of yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, and even fermented drinks like kombucha (or at least I’m trying with the booch).

I was recently introduced to shrubs, or drinking vinegars. Like kombucha, they are fermented beverages, but unlike kombucha, they aren’t fizzy. They’re made from apple cider vinegar, which is a popular supplement these days that many people are taking. These are concentrated, so you just add a tablespoon or so to a glass, and then top it off with water or sparkling water. People drink apple cider vinegar for its health benefits, which includes helping to lower your blood sugar, and of course, those probiotics, which can help to aid in digestion and strengthen your immune system.

Making Cocktails with Shrubs (drinking vinegar)

You can buy them in a variety of different flavours, and they have that same puckery kind of taste that many people love kombucha for.

Now, you could obviously use these for health reasons. But I was curious as to what they would be like in a cocktail.

Probably my favourite cocktail is a classic sour. The idea is, you take a spirit, and then pair it with something sour/acidic, and balance that with something sweet. Sometimes there is also an egg white added to the mix, to give the cocktail a creamy consistency and a frothy head.

I normally use lemon or lime juice in my sours, so I was curious to see if the shrub could take the place of them in a cocktail. Turns out, it mades a delicious replacement!

I used aquafaba in my cocktails, as I’m not the hugest fan of using raw egg whites, but you can feel free to use them if you like. The aquafaba makes a great substitute, though.

The shrubs I’m using are from Route 18, a local business here in Vancouver that makes a variety of really fun flavours, including turmeric peach with ginger, raspberry and cherry cardamom. Uh, yum!

I made two different cocktails, based on the turmeric and the cherry shrubs.

Cocktails with Shrubs (Drinking Vinegar)

Cherry-Cardamom Sour

  • 1.5 oz bourbon or whiskey
  • 1 oz cherry cardamom shrub
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz aquafaba (or egg white)
  • maraschino cherry for garnish

Turmeric-Gin Sour

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • .5 oz orange liqueur
  • 1 oz turmeric peach shrub
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz aquafaba (or egg white)
  • lemon wheel for garnish

Here’s how to make them:

 

 

 

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