Tequila has a bad rap, largely because of its association with hastily downed shooters followed by the trifecta of salt/saliva/lemon. "It's a shame," says Lauren Mote, the award-winning bar manager at The Refinery in Vancouver, "because tequila is really a sophisticated drink."
To give customers a sense of its subtlety, Mote has created a cocktail that "aims to deliver tasting notes of smoke, citrus and spice." But if it sounds complex, making the Toro is easy. Before the fiesta, two steps: Make a simple syrup, add raw green peppercorns and bruised lemongrass leaves and steep overnight, then create your own flavoured salt using guajillo chilies, kosher salt and a food processor. Once the custom components are ready, combine the cocktail ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake vigorously for 10 seconds and strain over ice into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with blanched pineapple leaves or lime peel. Salud!
1 1/2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce Fee Brothers Lemon Bitters
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce lemongrass-and-raw-green-peppercorn syrup
1 pinch guaijillo chili salt