There’s something about the ritual of taking a tequila shot. Load up a shot glass with some of the agave spirit, salt a wetted portion of your hand, and firmly grip a lime wedge in the other hand. Lick the salt, shoot the tequila in one go, and then bite down on the lime. It’s an intense, delicious sensation, going from salty to the earthy pungency of tequila to the bright acid of the lime. And while it tends to be relegated more towards college parties and youthful indiscretion, it’s still a time-honored tradition even for adults.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t receive an upgrade, especially when that upgrade comes from an experienced, professional bartender like the legendary Salvatore Calabrese. A bartender, spirits advocate, bar consultant and author, Calabrese has published over a dozen books on bartending and cocktails and even created his own lines of spirits, so he can generally be treated as a reliable source for all things bar related. With the Snap, Crackle, Drop, he takes on the tequila shot with a zesty upgrade.
The main change to the classic tequila shot combination is swapping out the traditional salt for a heady, enlivening mixture of Angostura bitters and freshly ground black pepper. Calabrese makes a paste of sorts out of the mixture of the two and then applies it to fresh lime wedges. Rather than licking the salt, shooting the tequila and biting the lime, he encourages the drinker to take bites of the peppery, bitters-coated lime in between sip of tequila to really enjoy the full process, rather than downing it in one go.
Of course, even more so than in a cocktail like a Margarita or Paloma, the quality of the Snap, Crackle, Drop relies almost entirely on the choice of tequila. This is not a place for bottom shelf spirits. For his recipe, Calabrese suggests Don Julio Reposado Tequila. A premium spirit, the aged tequila ranges around $50 to $70 a bottle, depending on the market. Since its flavors are being enhanced and magnified by the drink, rather than somewhat covering it up, it’s a great tequila to use. It’s also a greater encouragement to not shoot the whole thing. It’s fine to go for something more affordable if you don’t want to splurge; just be sure to go with something of good quality.
- 1 1/2 ounces Don Julio Reposado Tequila
- 7 dashes Angostura bitters
- 4 twists freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lime wedge
Pour the tequila into a shot glass or Old Fashioned glass.
Stir together the bitters and pepper on a saucer until they form a paste and coat one side of the lime wedge with the mixture.
Take a bite of the lime and then sip the spirit.