Last weekend, my husband took me to the fabulous Loteria Grill Restaurant in Hollywood, which was quite possibly, the best meal out I have had in a loooooooong time. If you live anywhere at all near Los Angeles, you must try either the full-scale restaurant (in Hollywood) or the smaller taco stand, located inside the Farmer's Market at the Grove. Their queso fundido was sublime, perfectly edged in crisp golden cheese and served with hand-made corn tortillas. A salad of nopalitos (cactus) followed, which was tender and tangy and lightly dressed. We also shared a sample platter of 12 bite-sized tacos, called probaditos (little tastes), topped with several of the best meat and vegetable stews I have ever tasted, inspired by the inimitable expert of Mexican cuisine, Diana Kennedy. All that food, and it was a lot, is available at their stand in the Farmer's Market--but what the restaurant has that the stand lacks is a scene (it is on Hollywood Boulevard after all), and liquor.
If you know anything about me at all, you know that I'd be pretty hard pressed to turn down a margarita, especially one made with premium spirits. So that night I had two (TWO!!) of their $12 Martini Tamarindos, which are made with Patron Silver, Patron Citronge, and tamarind paste (which is a sour, seedy fruit used in many tropical cuisines), shaken and served straight-up in a salt and chile rimed glass. They were the sexiest margaritas I have ever drunk, and not just because I might have been...drunk, that is. Smooth in the mouth, they were perfectly chilled and had the most intense and intriguing combination of flavors. The taste reminded me of those chile dusted dried mangoes I love so much. The sips alternately burned and cooled my lips and tongue, and made me thirst for more (which explains why I needed two...and why our bar bill far exceeded our food bill).
So, of course, I had to try to re-create the recipe at home. Since Patron is reserved for the most special of occasions, I made it with regular Jose Cuervo and Triple Sec, but it still tasted pretty darn good. I found the tamarind paste at an Indian market. It is black and thick like molasses, and quite sour--you just need a bit to pleasantly flavor and color the drink. And don't forget the chile-salt rim. All I can really say about this cocktail is, yes, yes, YES!
3 oz. white tequila (best you can afford...but Jose Cuervo is fine)
1 oz. triple sec or cointreau
juice from 1/2 orange
juice from 1/2 lime
1 t superfine sugar
1 t tamarind paste (available at Indian or Mexican grocers)
1 t salt
1 t chile powder (I like Ancho)
Place all ingredients except salt and chile in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Mix the salt and chile together on a small plate. Wipe the rims of two martini glasses with lime and dip in the chile/salt mixture. Strain martinis out into the glasses. Salud!