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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the Rooster's Claw at Empellón

By Alia Akkam

Between mounds of guacamole and plates of enchiladas verdes, some will drink salt-rimmed margarita after salt-rimmed margarita, others will knock back shots of Sauza like it's sophomore year and a few will even resort to shy sips from a bottle of all-in-one Skinnygirl. This weekend, the tequila will inevitably flow.

But pitchers are not mandatory for Cinco de mayo reveling, nor must you join an inebriated horde. Instead, Mexico's defeat of the French can be celebrated at Empellón Cocina with, say, Chioggia beet and Oaxacan blood sausage tacos and an elegant cocktail by Mat Resler.

One concoction to consider is the vibrant Rooster's Claw, combining tequila, mango-habanero puree, fresh lime juice and agave nectar. "We needed a tequila with character to stand up to the bold flavors of the mango and habanero, but light enough to not overpower the cocktail," says Resler of his preference for Pueblo Viejo Reposado. "You can still taste the tequila, but it acts more as a leveling agent."

The balanced puree is inspired by Empellón chef Alex Stupak's liberal use of the small, potent orange chile pepper. Says Resler, "Once you get past the initial heat you have a beautiful, fragrant floral note that works really well with tropical fruit."

Rooster's Claw

2 oz. Pueblo Viejo Reposado Tequila

1 oz. Mango-habanero puree*

3/4 oz. fresh lime juice

1/4 oz. agave nectar

Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.

*The restaurant makes a purée from scratch, but you can also make your own by blending a ratio of one chile pepper per bottle of high-quality mango juice.

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