Like Blue Bell ice cream and Taco Cabana, Mexican Martinis are an Austin staple I miss dearly. I tried my first at Ninfa’s on a visit home from college with my then-boyfriend and his mom (sadly, the restaurant is permanently closed), and from that moment a margarita has never measured up.
The Mexican Martini is an undisputed Austin invention, but local opinion differs on whether Trudy’s or the Cedar Door lay claim to the original. (The New York Times sides with the Cedar Door, but I’m partial to Trudy’s, where our moms passed the time during our dance classes at Ballet Austin.) Either way, the drink tastes damn good, and this native Austinite could no longer live without them in Brooklyn.
Thanks to Leah, over the course of two nights this past fall we perfected the recipe. On the first occasion we tried two contenders, a bookmarked search of mine from 2009 and the printed one in the Times article. Neither lived up to my memory, especially because both were too sweet. We later learned we made two critical missteps: doubling the batch (three of us were drinking) and using store-bought oj. The orange juice was a rookie mistake (even the brand Simple, which claims no sugar added, tastes sweeter than fresh-squeezed). The batching miscalculation was less obvious. A single batch fills two martini glasses, which is why the bartender gives you the mixed cocktail in the shaker: you pour your own refill. Doubling the recipe left little room for ice, so the temperature was way too warm.
Correcting those steps on our following try, we kept the second recipe and substituted silver tequila for the reposado, arriving at a winner:
2 oz silver tequila
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz lime juice (fresh squeezed)
3/4 oz orange juice (fresh squeezed)
1/2 oz olive brine
Chill a glass (I store some in the freezer ahead of time), pour the above into a shaker, fill with ice and shake for 10 seconds. It’s optional to rim the glass with salt; I always do. Pour and serve with two olives, jalapeño-stuffed if you’d like.
The Homesick Texan is my favorite new cookbook. This weekend I had friends over for a Tex-Mex dinner party, and that book effectively sponsored the event. As enjoyed on Christmas Eve, I made chorizo stuffed jalapenos, cheese enchiladas with chili con carne, and Mexican Chocolate Chewies. The expanded menu included homemade salsa (Ms. Fain’s Uncle Richard’s Hot Sauce) and queso cookies. (The blog is a great resource, but you need the cookbook to try any of the above.) The guacamole and avocado tacos came from my kitchen, and fellow Texan Nancy represented with Mexican layered dip (so good!). We had so much food, the chili con queso got shelved for a future hangout.
The night was the best kind spent with friends: we drank Mexican Martinis, beer, and bubbly until 1 in the morning, and I was giddy while cleaning up and watching the snow fall overnight.
An upside to the season: winter weekends afford board game afternoons. On Sunday Andrea and Peter were inducted into the cult of Catan. Despite my largest army and Peter’s longest road, Andrea quickly cleaned up and snatched victory from us both. The architect knows how to build cities.
Also of note: Peter makes the best coffee in the neighborhood. I want to learn his secrets.
"HYPE" materialized organically: Blake and Steph were seated to my left, and Chad (pictured in the classic backwards "E") spotted the opportunity. From there a mini-shoot ensued, and we naturally had to draw attention to the table littered with stoner-quality snacking: leftover stir-fry, Laura’s parsnip & carrot latkes with horseradish sour cream, deli meats (and chips) dipped in said sour cream, chips and munster joining to make glorious nachos, and homemade marshmallows and chocolate cake remaining from previous dinners.
All of us were sober and just doing our part to leave no morsel behind.
Me, Alexis, and Corrina, New Year’s House 2010. (Photo by Steph)
This weekend we’re back at Callicoon Center, NY for a fresh round of fun.