CaliGirl’s Chico Cocktail

CaliGirl’s Chico Cocktail is brought to you today by the feeling that we need SOME sort of alternative to the classic margarita to serve up at our Cinco de Mayo celebrations next week.

CaliGirl's Chico Cocktail | CaliGirl Cooking

You feel me? Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE a good margarita, but if you’re as immersed in the food blogging world as me (or, for that matter, any world that doesn’t involve being a total recluse or living under a rock), my guess is you’ll see your fair share of margarita recipes floating around in these next few days leading up to America’s favorite Mexican holiday.

So today I’m here to bring you a little something different. Have no fear, it still involves tequila. In my interweb cruising last weekend, I came across a list of favorite Mexican-inspired cocktails, and stumbled upon one known as the “Chico” which was apparently quite popular in cantinas along the Texas-Mexico border during World War II. Pretty neat, huh? I was immediately drawn to it because of its vibrant ruby color, which it gets from a healthy dose of blackberry liqueur.

CaliGirl's Chico Cocktail | CaliGirl Cooking

I didn’t happen to have any blackberry liqueur on hand, but my eyes went straight to our “bar” (which, in reality, is a bunch of Ikea cube shelves, don’t judge) and set on our bottle of Pimm’s Elderflower & Blackberry liqueur, which would certainly be a suitable substitute.

I also got just a leeetle bit excited seeing that the cocktail called for Simple Syrup, as I had just been introduced to Sonoma Syrup Co. and they happened to have sent me a bottle of their Acai-Black Currant Superfruit Syrup to try out.  If that wasn’t a sign that I needed to make my own CaliGirl version of this Chico Cocktail, I don’t know what is!

CaliGirl's Chico Cocktail | CaliGirl Cooking

But let me back up here because I MUST tell you more about this Sonoma Syrup Co. First of all, it’s a genius idea. As you probably know, Northern California Wine Country is a hotbed of creative cultivation, combining outstanding ingredients and unique terroir to make world-class wine and food that is top of its class. Sonoma Syrup Co. applies this same care and creativity to their line of artisan syrups (and other culinary products) to provide a “taste of Wine Country” to home cooks, baristas and bartenders all over the world. They have such a HUGE variety of syrup flavors and other fun items (they even make infused apple cider vinegar!) that I will definitely be sharing more of with you in the very near future.

Okay, reigning it back in here so we can talk more about this Chico Cocktail. Once you have all of the ingredients (yep, all five of them), it is soooo easy to whip up in no time at all. No need to get out a blender or a plate of salt to rim your glasses with this bad boy. We simply throw together white tequila, our Pimm’s Elderflower & Blackberry liqueur, our Acai-Black Currant Superfruit Syrup, some fresh lemon juice and a dash of club soda to finish it off. Easy as that!

I brought my Chico Cocktails over to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for dinner on Sunday and we’ll just say they didn’t quite make it to dinner time. That good.

CaliGirl's Chico Cocktail | CaliGirl Cooking

And, if you MUST have some sort of margarita option at your Cinco de Mayo fiesta (in addition to CaliGirl’s Chico Cocktail, of course) I’ve got you covered on that front too. If you can’t decide between your two favorite Cinco de Mayo libations, you’re going to want to try this Beer-garita. And if you’re more of a traditionalist (with a twist, of course) I highly recommend going the Blood Orange or Pineapple Pummelo Margarita route.

What are your plans for this fun and festive holiday? Will you be hitting the town or lying low at home with a plate full of nachos? Do you have any fun recipes (drink or food) that are your “go-to’s” for Cinco de Mayo? Please share, I love hearing all of your plans and ideas!

CaliGirl’s Chico Cocktail
A refreshing tequila drink with blackberry liqueur and simple syrup - not your average Cinco de Mayo cocktail!
Ingredients
  • 2 ounces white tequila
  • 2 ounces Pimm’s Elderflower & Blackberry Liqueur
  • ½ ounce Sonoma Syrup Co.’s Acai-Black Currant Superfruit Syrup
  • Juice of ½ of a large lemon or more to taste
  • Club soda to top off
Instructions
  1. Fill a rocks glass halfway to three-quarters full of ice. Add tequila, liqueur, syrup and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Top with club soda.

CaliGirl's Chico Cocktail | CaliGirl Cooking

Viva la fiesta!

Blackberry Bourbon “Jammer” with Fresh Rosemary

We’re in the home stretch!

Blackberry Bourbon Jammer | CaliGirl Cooking

I’m bringing my weekly cocktail recipe to you a day early because tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I’m most definitely planning on enjoying it with my family. Plus, I thought it would be great for you all to have one more cocktail recipe in your arsenal for all of the celebrating that is about to ensue.

And I must say I am REALLY proud of this recipe. I have to admit that it was a spur of the moment inspiration. I knew I wanted to share a bourbon cocktail with you this week (not only is it one of my favorite liquors, but it’s also quite fitting for winter and this colder weather), but I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I’ve already shared my favorite hot toddy recipe with you, and I’ve shared some other great cocktails that are definitely “Christmas-focused” (see here, here and here), so I wanted to whip something up that would still be great for the holiday but would also be something to enjoy for the rest of the winter too (because, alas, life does go on after Christmas.)

I was also trying to think of a cocktail where you folks would already have most (if not all) of the ingredients on hand (because who wants to make a last minute run to the grocery store at this time of year? Not me!) I don’t know about you but often I see a cocktail that looks amazing and then when I get to the ingredient list I have no idea where I would find half of the “accoutrements.” That will definitely not be the case with this bad boy.

Blackberry Bourbon Jammer | CaliGirl Cooking

So, enough of the lead-up! Let’s get to this Blackberry Bourbon Jammer with Fresh Rosemary. I’ve been thinking about jam cocktails for a while now, ever since one of my favorite Santa Barbara restaurants, The Lark, started featuring them on their cocktail menu. We also just so happen to have a whole shelf in our pantry dedicated to my soon-to-be mother-in-law’s homemade jams and jellies (insert heart eyes emoji here, thanks Diana!) While scanning through the options my eyes caught on the blackberry jam, and I knew it would be a great fit for this little bev.

So we’ve got the bourbon, and we’ve got the jam. We’re off to a great start. I also wanted to add some sort of fresh herb, because herbs just lend so much depth and flavor to a recipe. Don’t you think? (BTW, if you’ve never added fresh herbs to a salad of any sort, you’re really missing out. Do it ASAP.) Seeing as it is winter and we have let our (very small) garden wither away, the only thing I had on hand was our incredibly hearty rosemary plant that we have at our front door.

Bourbon –> Blackberry jam–> Fresh rosemary. I like where we’re going here. The one final component I wanted to add to this winter libation was a touch of tang and acidity. I had been in Whole Foods earlier that day and had stumbled across a “cocktail grapefruit.” [Not a grapefruit, a “cocktail grapefruit.” Have you heard of these before? Because I sure haven’t. But I figured since it had “cocktail” in the name it must be good.] According to SpecialtyProduce.com, a cocktail grapefruit is smaller in size than a regular grapefruit, but is very juicy and sweeter than regular grapefruits, and therefore perfect for adding to cocktails and other beverages. It’s also known as a “Mandelo” because it is a pedigree of the Siamese Sweet pummelo and the Frua mandarin. Interesting! I decided this would be the perfect final ingredient for my “jammer.” [And, no, I do not know if that is an actual category of cocktails. I really wanted to call this a “smash,” but since I didn’t muddle anything it made me feel like a fraud. So I’m just going to ride this jammer train and hopefully it will catch on.]

Blackberry Bourbon Jammer | CaliGirl Cooking

But I digress. All of this jabbering is making me thirsty so let’s get down to business. I simply add the bourbon, blackberry jam, fresh juice from the “cocktail” grapefruit, and a sprig of rosemary to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, give it a good ol’ shake-shake-shake, and strain it into a glass with even more ice, finishing with a new sprig of rosemary and maybe some soda water if you need some sort of topper to fill the glass. Easy as that!

So as you can see, I’ve tried to keep it simple for you here. If you can’t find a “cocktail” grapefruit, feel free to sub in fresh juice from a regular grapefruit or a pomelo.

This Blackberry Bourbon Jammer is perfect on so many levels. It’s got the sweetness from the jam (but a natural sweetness, nothing so overwhelming that it will give you a gnarly hangover the next day), the tartness from the fresh grapefruit juice (fresh is key, I’m talking squeezed out of the fruit itself), the extra depth of flavor from the fresh rosemary, and the kick from the bourbon.

I don’t know about you, but I’m telling mom and dad to have plenty of these ingredients on hand because, when I get to their house tonight, it’s on! Blackberry Bourbon Jammer for the win.

Blackberry Bourbon Jammer | CaliGirl Cooking

Blackberry Bourbon “Jammer” with Fresh Rosemary
Ingredients
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon blackberry jam
  • 2 small sprigs of rosemary divided
  • Juice of ½ a cocktail grapefruit or about 2 tablespoons
  • Ice
  • Club soda for topping off optional
Instructions
  1. Fill cocktail shaker about halfway with ice.
  2. Add bourbon, jam, one sprig of rosemary and grapefruit juice to shaker. Shake vigorously for 10-20 seconds.
  3. Strain mixture into a rocks glass filled ¾ of the way full with more ice. Top off with club soda if desired. Garnish with second sprig of rosemary. Enjoy!

Blackberry Bourbon Jammer | CaliGirl Cooking

Winter in a glass!