According to NationalMargaritaDay.com, February 22nd is set aside each year to celebrate America’s most consumed cocktail (interesting to note that Mexico’s is the Paloma). Despite my skepticism as to its origin as a nouveau-holiday, I said ‘sure’ when asked to create a cocktail for a brand-sponsored, national margarita day competition. The recipe came together in five minutes. I snapped a picture and forgot all about it – never submitted.
The Acapulco Gold is an unintended benefit of my own disorganization, as the idea evolved over time from a margarita derivation to a delicious beach beverage. We get calls all the time for mango margaritas, and it’s an ingredient we haven’t used outside our anejo sangrita. As the weather warmed up it seemed the perfect time to bring another tiki-style crushed ice cocktail onto the menu. Ancho Reyes was originally intended to act as an orange liquor substitute in a classic margarita format, but it works well with the mango and the spicy finish helps cut all that juice.
We were already dashing some angostura bitters when working on the recipe, as we do with most of our beach drinks, but the addition of cacao nibs helped dry it out even more and offers great aromatics to pair with the fruit. When our lead bartender Joanna asked me a half hour before service what the garnish would be, I had no idea but said ‘something with pineapple’. Chile arbol-salted pineapple chunks and a green ‘penca’ for color was where we landed, just short of a paper umbrella.
Matthew McKinley Campbell