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Spirited Away: Chimayó Cocktail

Spirited Away: Chimayó Cocktail

Veronica tries New Mexico's signature cocktail


I recently got my hands on “New Mexico Cocktails” by Greg Mays. The book is filled with history and cocktails – and is perfect for a little DIY bartending.

Arturo Jaramillo, owner of Historic Rancho De Chimayó restaurant, mixed up the Chimayó Cocktail in 1965 as a Jaramillo-style solution to an abundance of apple cider from the Chimayó valley.

This signature New Mexico cocktail is a sweet blend of apple cider, tequila, lemon juice and crème de cassis. Still served at the restaurant in Chimayó, this cocktail definitely deserves a try at the home bar.

Chimayo cocktail recipeThe complex spice of the tequila and the caramel notes of an unfiltered (non-alcoholic) cider already play well with one another. Add in a bit of citrus and blackcurrant liqueur, and you have a sharp fall fruit basket in a glass. Even better, the cocktail is simple to put together – this may be dangerous the next time I have house guests.

Cocktails are often seen as sophisticated or complicated, but don’t let yourself be intimidated: Making a good cocktail should be an exciting adventure.

If you have a few glasses and a means of measuring, you can make a cocktail at home using basic kitchen tools. Choose ingredients that are quality and affordable for the cocktail you are making. Crème de cassis and gold tequila can both be found at any quality liquor store. It being fall in New Mexico, I had no trouble finding some apple cider at the local grocery store.

Tequila is most popular for its famous appearance in the ever-wonderful margarita, where its combination with an orange liquor and lime juice makes a refreshing warm-weather drink all over the world.

In the Chimayó Cocktail, tequila takes a new role as the sharp spice that kicks up that deliciously sweet cider. I used a Reposado tequila for this drink. Since the Reposado is aged in whiskey barrels, it has that nice smoky flavor along with the spice of the tequila itself. The recipe in Mays’ book calls for a gold tequila, but a silver tequila could be nice for a milder palette. Remember, it’s an adventure.

Crème de cassis, or a blackcurrant liqueur, was first made in Burgundy, France more than 150 years ago. Cassis is a liqueur that has a sweet dark-berry flavor with a hint of earthy tartness.I love the cassis and tequila pairing, a play on sweet and spicy. Cassis is indeed a sweet liqueur and can be easy to overdo, so measure carefully.

Finally, the juices. Add an unfiltered cider for rich apple flavor, and a touch of lemon to make it all pop.

Remember to drink responsibly, and make each cocktail an adventure.


Veronica Rinaldi is a bartender for Albuquerque Press Club and never shies away from a new cocktail. 

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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