The coupling of sherry and tequila were officially outed in February of this year for all the world to see. But the genius of their combination hasn't really been that much of a secret. For the past several years, cocktails have been popping up all over the country that highlight this inspired pairing. It is the careful balance of sherry's savory nuttiness and the smoky, herbaceous tequila that creates such a solid foundation for so many interesting and incredibly tasty drinks. And these drinks cross every cocktail boundary. Tequila and sherry work well in spirit-forward libations or even those including citrus, like the Ce Acatl below. Even more complicated flavors, such as those of amari and fruit liqueurs, can shine in the presence of tequila and sherry. Nothing is really off limits. With three different types of tequila (blanco, reposado, anejo)--not to mention three types of mescal (blanco, reposado, and anejo) and three types of sotol (you get the idea)--and with six different styles of sherry (fino, manzanilla, amontillado, palo cortado, oloroso, and Pedro Ximenez), the options seem virtually endless even before you start adding other flavors.
I hate to admit that until recently I hadn't had much experience with cocktails that call for both sherry and tequila. Sherry is one of my favorite things to mix with--I just love a Sherry Cobbler. And tequila and mescal regularly tempt me to try drinks that are normally out of my comfort zone. I guess I just had trouble taking the necessary plunge to get tequila and sherry in the same glass. I can't believe I waited so long! My friend Adam, the creator of the Ce Acatl, helped me see the error of my ways. Now I understand just how wondrous those two elements are when used together.
Ce Acatl (created by Adam Mullinax)
2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce amontillado sherry
1/2 ounce orgeat
1/4 ounce lime juice
1 dash Boker's bitters
1 dash mole bitters
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime twist.
Note on Ingredients: I used Don Julio anejo tequila, Trader Tiki orgeat, and Lustau Amontillado Sherry. The first time I made it, I was out of amontillado and substituted the drier manzanilla (thus, the picture). The result was also a bit drier but no less pleasing.
What makes this cocktail great, in addition to the way it showcases the tequila and sherry, is the richness that the orgeat brings to the mix. Adam told me that he was loosely inspired by the Japanese Cocktail, and it is the orgeat that provides the link. The tequila and sherry used in place of the Japanese's brandy really do lighten the flavors and push them in totally different direction with a totally different feel. But it is the lime's brightness that really brings the drink together for me. This cocktail is bright and flavorful, smoky, nutty and wonderfully complex. The Ce Acatl will definitely be a regular in my summer rotation.