Cinco de Mayo is for celebrating, and you’re probably doing so with tequila. But in case you don’t consider yourself an expert on the spirit du jour, look no further than Milagro Tequila‘s ambassador, Gaston Martinez. The Las Vegas-based mixologist has earned awards and high praise for his signature cocktails off the Strip, and today he’s hosting a pool party at The Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs—a joint venture with El Heffe Tequila, Taco Bar and celebrity chef Jose Garces. Earlier, we asked him for some pointers on choosing the right tequila for Cinco de Mayo.
Do you have any personal rules of thumb for selecting tequila?
1. I always make sure it’s a 100 percent blue agave tequila
2. Depending on the occasion, I’ll decide if I want a silver, reposado or añejo tequila. For most food pairings, I’ll choose a reposado. I’ll select Añejo for after-dinner or late night with a cigar and silver with most cocktails or if I’m under the sun by the water.
3. Make sure the bottle has “NOM” on it, which is the official Mexican standard of tequila that is regulated by the Mexican government.
What’s the best Cinco de Mayo drink you’ve had?
The El Vocho (pictured). It’s a shot of Milagro Reposado that is accompanied by a shot of Verdita, our green expression of a sangrita, which is a puree of pineapple juice, cilantro, mint and jalapeño.
Which tequila would you recommend for someone who’s starting the celebration on the early side?
Start with silver tequila, which is light and as the day progresses, move onto a heavier añejo.
For someone who’s not a big drinker?
I would suggest a nice fruit-forward margarita. Here’s the recipe for our Carpe Dia (pictured):
2 parts Milagro Añejo Tequila 0.75 parts Milagro Agave Nectar 1 part Fresh Lime Juice 5 Blackberries 2 Sage Leaves Muddle fruit and herbs in a Boston shaker glass. Add other ingredients and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice and garnish with blackberry and a sprig of sage.
For someone who’s unsure of what to bring to the party?
I recommend a bottle of Milagro Single Barrel Reserve Reposado for its amazing balance, which will please most palates. The bottle is impressive as well.
Any unexpected foods or appetizers that pair really well with tequila?
Sushi is an unexpected pairing, but the herbal notes in tequila complement fresh fish.
What’s the formula for the perfect margarita?
A good balance between sweet and sour and to use fresh ingredients. My margarita preference is Milagro’s Freshest Margarita:
2 parts Milagro Silver
1 part fresh lime juice
0.75 parts Light Agave Nectar
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
What kind of drink would you suggest for those who want to celebrate in a less traditional way (sans margarita)?
A great tequila version of the Manhattan or a Mule.
If readers only remember one thing about selecting tequila, what should that be?
Always make sure that the bottle says it’s a 100 percent blue agave tequila.