Every year Kentucky Derby Day and Cinco de Mayo more or less collide. So the question is: mint julep or margarita? From an upcycling point of view, I have to say I'll be drinking a tequila based drink rather than a bourbon one. And here's the reason: bourbon is aged in white American oak barrels, but the barrels have to be discarded after one use. So far, so wasteful. But south of the border those cast-off casks are reborn again. Distilleries in the region around the town of Tequila in Jalisco (pictured above) use the former bourbon barrels in the ageing process of their blue agave based drink. It's not a requirement (the Casadores distillery uses new barrels), but many distillers use specific barrels to achieve specific tastes. The Partida distillers for example use the barrels that have come from a certain Mr Daniels who makes his home in Lynchburg, Tennessee.
If your whistle has been whet, then here's a recipe you might try. Unlike other Mexican favourites like the margarita or the sangrita, the paloma is a perfect beginners' cocktail - you don't need any fancy bartending equipment and can just use what's already in your kitchen. This version comes from Steffin Oghene, manager of the Shoreditch tequila bar Green & Red. !Feliz Cinco De Mayo!
Half a freshly squeezed lime
A can of Ting grapefruit soda, a can of Lilt, or your own combination of pink grapefruit juice topped with soda to taste
Add cubed ice to a highball glass. Next pour in the tequila, then add the juices and finally a pinch of sea salt. Stir well with a knife or long spoon, garnish with a wedge of lime or pink grapefruit and enjoy.