Almost every person has an unrequited love. You know, the one that got away.
And once I met a woman named Lara. She was beautiful, sweet, loved tequila and had a spicy edge to her. But, sadly, she had no interest in me whatsoever…
Ah well! In the process of drowning my sorrows, I created a cocktail in her honor: the Larita. Like its namesake, it is sweet and tart with a bit of spicy jalapeño pepper. It has become one of my favorite summer drinks and is a real crowd-pleaser.
It has found its way into my kitchen as well. I have always been a fan of thematic entertaining—not in a kitschy manner, but in creating a kind of harmony between the cocktails I shake and the food I cook. The simplest example I can think of is serving a Margarita with Mexican; the two belong together. But I like to go beyond that and feature common ingredients in both drink and cuisine. Sometimes I even take it a bit further by actually using the cocktail as part of the dish.
That’s what I did with the Larita and my wild striped bass recipe. The mix of cilantro, lime and tequila is the perfect marinade for the fish, and the Licor 43’s vanilla note adds a unique and exotic flavor. Serve it with some spiced brown rice and whatever seasonal vegetables you find in the market. Enjoy!
Contributed by Nick Mautone
4 sprigs Fresh cilantro
1 thin slice Jalapeño pepper
.75 oz Agave nectar
1 oz Fresh lime juice
1.5 oz Blanco tequila
.75 oz Licor 43
Garnish: Cilantro sprig Glass: Rocks
In a shaker, muddle the cilantro, jalapeño and agave nectar. Add the remaining ingredients and fill with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a cilantro sprig.
(For a lighter drink, top the cocktail with 2 ounces of coconut water. This will add a wonderful tropical flavor and festive feeling.)
Rub the salt and pepper over the fish and place into a gallon zip-top bag. Add 1 Larita cocktail, squeeze out the air, seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Add the remaining Larita cocktail to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by half. Taste, and add salt, pepper and/or sugar if needed. Remove from the heat and set aside
Heat a grill to high and place the fish on the grill flesh-side-down. Cook for 1 minute and baste with a bit of the reserved sauce. Cook about 1 minute more or until the fish freely comes off the grill and flip. Baste with the coconut butter, cook 1 minute and baste with more of the sauce. Cook until the fish is firm to the touch and appears opaque, about 1 to 2 minutes more.
Serve with lime wedges and the remaining sauce on the side.
Nick Mautone is a talented New York mixologist and author of Raising the Bar. He is also the former manager of the acclaimed Gramercy Tavern and Gotham Bar and Grill.