Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a holiday widely celebrated across Mexico and Latin America honoring the lives of friends and relatives who have passed, is gaining immense popularity in the United States. Each November 2nd, crowds dress in colorful costumes, don skeleton-like makeup, parade through the streets and erect decorative altars in remembrance of the dearly departed. The traditions of Day of the Dead are far and wide: pottery calaveras (Spanish for skulls) are painted bright colors, graves are adorned with yellow marigolds and glasses of Mexico’s national drink, tequila, are raised in celebration.
This year, to commemorate Dia de los Muertos, mixologists from some of the top bars and restaurants in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York have created Espolón Tequila cocktails that stir up the complex essence and celebratory spirit of the holiday.
The following intriguing cocktails bridge Mexican traditions with modern mixology. On Day of the Dead, make your way to these cocktail havens and sip a specialty Espolón cocktail in honor of those who have gone before.
Created by Daniel Hyatt
The Alembic, San Francisco
1.5 oz Espolón Tequila Blanco
.75 oz White Crème de Cacao
.5 oz Ruby Port
.75 oz Hibiscus Tea, chilled
2 dashes of Orange Bitters
Orange Peel for garnish
Directions: Shake ingredients together with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. For garnish, twist a strip of orange peel over the top.
Background: In Mexico, hibiscus is a well-known ingredient, most popular in the traditional drink, Agua Fresca. Its striking color and slightly tangy bite add layers to this cocktail, creating a truly complex drink. The pink-red hue of this cocktail is one of the most vibrant colors you will see gracing the streets during Dia de los Muertos.
Created by Jorge Guzman
Ofrenda, New York
1.5 oz Espolón Tequila Reposado
.5 oz Frangelico
.5 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Chile Piquin-Cinnamon Syrup
2 dashes of Wormwood Bitters
Directions: Shake ingredients together and strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Background: The exotic spices in this cocktail complement the bold flavor notes and sweet tropical fruits found in Espolón Reposado. Essentially, the drink is a celebration of life and death. Both sweet and spicy notes in the drink echo the light and dark moments that people experience throughout their existence on earth. In the afterlife, these moments live on and continue to be celebrated.
Created by Raul Yrastorza
Las Perlas, Los Angeles
2 oz Espolón Tequila Reposado
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.5 oz Apple Cider Vinegar Shrub
.5 oz Cardamaro Amaro
1 bar spoon Apple Butter Infused Agave Nectar
4 muddled Apple Chunks
Apple Cider Foam for garnish
Blackstrap molasses for garnish
Directions: Muddle apple chunks in bottom of a mixing glass. Shake all ingredients together with ice and double strain into a rocks glass over ice. Top with apple cider foam and drizzle with blackstrap molasses.
Background: During Day of the Dead, ofrendas (offerings) are given to the dead, and range from fruits to music, tequila, song and dance. Inspired by the open-air fruit and spice markets of Oaxaca, Mexico, this cocktail combines flavors of apple, agave and ground spice. It is – at its core – an offering, paying tribute to the dead in its combination of traditional gifts often left at altars.
About Espolón: Espolón Tequila is a super premium, 100% pure agave tequila, whose bottles are adorned with intricate Day of the Dead-style imagery. Inspired by 19th century artistry, the labels celebrate Mexico’s storied history and culture. Available in Blanco and Reposado, Espolón Tequila is a versatile spirit, perfect for sipping or mixing in cocktails.