At the daily Grand Tasting in Aspen, there are literally hundreds of bites and sips to choose from, so a true standout is one that you can't resist making repeat visits to.

One of those booths came from Mercadito, a group of restaurants in New York, Chicago, and Miami serving Southern Mexican taqueria-style specialties. Not only did they offer tacos filled with layers of flavor, but they also served them accompanied with a refreshing pepino el pyu cocktail, their update on a margarita.

Talk about a perfect pairing: the cooling essence of cucumber mixed with a punch of lemon was a welcome contrast to the ultraspicy pork taco topped with chile de arbol coleslaw. Since I can't wait to re-create it at home, I'm sharing the recipe with you, too. Don't skimp on the cumin salt rim, which adds a smoky, crunchy finish to every sip. For the recipe, read on.

Pepino el Pyu

Pepino el Pyu

Ingredients

  1. For hoja santa syrup:
  2. 4 tablespoons hoja santa (Mexican pepperleaf)
  3. 1 quart simple syrup
  4. For cumin salt:
  5. 1 tablespoon cumin
  6. 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse salt
  7. For pepino el pyu:
  8. 2 ounces tequila blanco
  9. 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  10. 1 lemon wedge
  11. 1 ounce cucumber purée
  12. 1 ounce hoja santa syrup
  13. Cucumber slice, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Prepare hoja santa syrup: Place hoja santa and simple syrup in a pot; bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let cool, then fine strain. Makes one quart, to be used immediately or refrigerated.
  2. Prepare cumin salt: Combine equal parts cumin and coarse salt in a shallow plate or pan.
  3. Make pepino el pyu: Moisten the outer rim of a lowball glass with the lemon wedge, then dip into cumin salt to coat rim.
  4. Combine tequila, lemon, cucumber purée, and one ounce of hoja santa syrup in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain over ice.
  5. Garnish with a very thin slice of cucumber and rim glass with cumin salt.

Makes 1 cocktail.

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