Tag: Don Julio

May The Fourth and Cinco de Mayo

May The Fourth and Cinco de Mayo

When we got married on May 4th twenty years ago we had no idea that our anniversary date would be hijacked by Stars Wars, “May The Fourth Be With You”. Likewise, May 5th was just an ordinary day; not the Cinco de Mayo holiday that’s so popular today. As much as I love tequila and Mexican food, Cinco de Mayo will have to wait until after our two-day anniversary celebration.

A local steakhouse, Rails, serves uniquely delicious appetizers, premium steaks cooked to perfection, wonderful sides, and sinful desserts. Quality food, nice atmosphere, and professional service come with a fairly hefty price tag so we save our visits to Rails for special occasions like our anniversary. From my longtime practice in the art of the Boozy Lifestyle, I’ve become pretty familiar with retail wine pricing. This knowledge makes it difficult to order wine with a 400% markup so we put the wine list aside in favor of their creative craft cocktail list. The bourbon-based drinks we order are refreshingly full of fresh herbs and muddled fruits.

Here’s a sampling of Rails’ wine list. The Library Reserve Selections has some of the giants of Napa; Caymus, Silver Oak, and Far Niente. If you’re willing to spend big, the Nickel & Nickel Tench Vineyard is about the best deal on the wine list since it sells in local liquor stores for about $100.

Rails Wine List

With day one of our anniversary celebration complete, day two is set for uncorking Baldacci’s Four Sons Fraternity 2012 to pair with our steak doggy bags. Fraternity is a red blend from Stag’s Leap District in Napa Valley, California. I couldn’t locate documentation of the varietals in the 2012 blend, but my guess is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

I open the wine for an hour of decanting and notice that the freshly popped cork is full of sediment. We purchased this bottle about eight months ago and it has been stored on its side ever since. It’s a good idea to stand a bottle upright the day before opening it, and maybe I’ll remember next time. I pour the wine into the decanter through a small strainer to remove the remaining grit.

The nose is full of ripe cherry fruit, oak, and vanilla with floral and tobacco notes. The fruit is dominant but not overpowering. I don’t detect much in the way of earthy or vegetal aromas. Acidity and alcohol seem a little harsh on the back of the throat at first sip, but disappear over time. The palate is full of juicy plum, cherry, and blackberry. Dark chocolate and coffee flavors add a trace of bitterness, along with subtle notes of graphite that become more noticeable after swallowing.  The finish is long and leathery. Overall, Baldacci Fraternity offers a balanced structure from start to finish.

Mexican food and margaritas may just as easily be enjoyed on Seis and Siete de Mayo.

Premium Margarita

  • 1 oz. Don Julio Anejo
  • 1 oz. Patron Citronge
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice and simple syrup (half and half)

Shake over ice, strain into a margarita glass, and say Salud!

Panini Style Black Bean and Chicken Burrito


  • 1 red pepper, minced
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic
  • ¼ Teaspoon cumin
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 oz. chicken breast (1 large or 2 small), cut into small cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon taco seasoning
  • ½ cup of grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Pinch of pepper or crushed red pepper for more heat
  • 2 large flour tortillas


  1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a pot and cook the garlic and cumin for 1 minute. Add the minced red pepper and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. (If I don’t have a red pepper, I use a small onion or a stalk of celery.) Add the rinsed black beans. Heat on low, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the chicken.
  2. Place the chicken pieces in a plastic bag. Add taco seasoning and pepper to the bag and shake until chicken is coated. Brown the chicken in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add ¼ cup of water and continue cooking until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  3. Pre-heat the Griddler (panini press) to Grill/Panini between High and Sear.
  4. Brush olive oil on the outside of the wraps. Flip them over and fill with cheese, chicken, and the bean mixture. Fold them up and cook in the Griddler for a few minutes until the outside shows some nice grill marks.

Top with sour cream, taco sauce, and cheese.


Labor Day Fiesta

Guac appetizer

The avocados in the produce aisle labeled “Ripe Now” are beckoning to me and Labor Day weekend presents the perfect occasion to whip up some guacamole. Our guacamole-inspired menu expands to include Margaritas and tostadas.

I use a modified version of a guacamole recipe from my Cuisinart food processor booklet that’s easy and delicious.

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper
  • 1 large or 2 small avocados
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Quarter teaspoon cumin
  • Quarter teaspoon ground coriander
  • Half teaspoon of salt

Put the garlic, scallion, and jalapeno in the food processor and chop very fine. If these three ingredients are too large, the guacamole turns out “grassy”. Add the remaining ingredients and run the food processor with a few pulses for chunky or in the “on” position for 30 seconds for a smooth consistency.

We’re serving our guacamole with Scoops on the deck. The fresh limes I bought at the market this week will perform double-duty for our “premium” Margaritas. For two cocktails, we use 3 oz. of Don Julio Anejo, 3 oz. of Patron Citronge, and 1.5 oz. of lime juice with simple syrup mixed about half and half. I’ll take it shaken, not stirred, please.

Tostado shells in muffin tin

For the tostadas, I found a tip online to form them on an upside-down muffin tin and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes. I’m using the small (6-inch) flour tortillas. Remove from the oven when the edges turn brown and they hold their form nicely. The stuffing consists of taco-seasoned chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, scallions, grated cheese, and guacamole, with a dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of taco sauce.


After polishing off a couple of margaritas, no one feels like cleaning dishes, so the tostada is plated on my finest paper plate!

Margarita Drink Lab and Muffuletta Crackers

Summertime is the best time for Margaritas on the deck. Before mixing a full-sized cocktail to take outside on a glorious Friday evening, we decide to do a little homework in the drink lab.

We have a new Jose Cuervo Especial Silver tequila to put to the test. While Jose Cuervo is not usually at the top of our tequila list, my spouse can’t resist any packaging related to skulls or pirates. Score one for the marketing department. We’ll pit the Jose Cuervo against Patron Silver, Patron Anejo, and Don Julio Anejo.


We’re using Patron Citronge for our triple sec. In different cocktail labs we experimented with replacing Cointreau with Citronge yielding disastrous results; however, Citronge finds its true home in the margarita. We have fresh-squeezed lime juice that we mix with a bit of simple syrup to satisfy our sweet tooth. The ratio is about 2 parts tequila, one part Citronge, and one part lime mixture.

Margaritas are most commonly made with silver tequila and we can “see” why. The silver samples of Jose and Patron have a clear appearance making them more appealing to the eye. Our two anejo samples are murky by contrast. Fresh lime is the dominant aroma of all four of our testers. Although differences in taste are easier to discern by drinking neat, each tequila brings a different flavor to our mini cocktails. Jose hints of sweetness where Patron Silver is a dry whisper. Both anejos bring a dimension of oak that adds to the complexity of the flavor profile, but Don Julio wins us over by adding nuances of vanilla and caramel.


We pair our full-sized Don Julio Anejo margaritas with muffuletta crackers. The muffuletta is a popular New Orleans sandwich made with salami, mortadella, provolone cheese, and olive salad on a round sesame roll. For muffuletta crackers, layer the meat and cheese Oreo-style; a slice of provolone sandwiched between two slices of salami. Cut into quarters, place on crackers and top with a spoonful of muffuletta olive salad. Cocktail hour is good to go!