Photos by Kevin Gibson.
As a fan of anything spicy, I was intrigued to get a taste of Ancho Reyes Verde Chili Poblano Liqueur; as someone who typically drinks beer or wine, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the liqueur. Fortunately, a cocktail suggestion was tagged on the bottle, meaning I didn’t have to get too creative.
First, I poured a sample into a small glass and peered into the light green liquid. I then brought it to my nose and realized Ancho Reyes wasn’t fooling around – the aroma was that of roasted poblano peppers, and it was ample. The liqueur was clearly brimming with flavor and spice, with a hint of citrus in the blend.
I made a simple margarita-esque cocktail using silver tequila, Ancho Reyes, fresh lime juice, and salt, shaking it well and then pouring it over ice. Not surprisingly, it was a powerful drink, and even understandably daunting (beer drinker, don’t forget), and yet it was actually kind of beautiful to behold.
I took a sip from the salted-rim glass and noted that the tequila and Ancho Reyes balanced each other beautifully – made me glad I followed the suggestion of 1.5 parts tequila to 1 part chile liqueur. In fact, for a few sips, I thought maybe I’d made a milder drink than I immediately thought.
But a few sips in, the heat turned up just enough, mixing with the natural warm finish of the tequila to prove that the mix is indeed a fine match. I noted that, even though it looked outwardly like a summer drink, it warmed me from top to bottom on a chilly evening at home.
As I casually made my way through my drink, I noted that while the spicy heat is ever present, it never overwhelmed my palate. I think what was most pleasing was the fact that while the spicy warmth eventually took a secondary role, the bright flavor didn’t waver – the pleasing presence of fresh poblanos sticks with you.
When I’d finished my (rather tasty) cocktail, I decided to dial it down for a cheap experiment; I had some basic margarita mix in the bar, so I figured why not? I made a simple Margarita with the same tequila, adding a shot’s worth of Ancho Reyes Verde. (Editor’s note; Use fresh juice sour mix for your Margaritas whenever possible. When it’s too cold to source the ingredients or you find yourself otherwise incapacitated, use emergency backup.)
What I got was a basic Margarita with just a touch of the chile flavor and only a hint of the spicy heat, making it a better option for the pepper squeamish who are nevertheless looking for an interesting twist on their cocktail. And since the heat is dialed back when using the liqueur in smaller quantities, it will play well when temperatures in the 90s return in July.
All in all, a tasty new experience that I won’t mind repeating from time to time. Nobody needs a boring Margarita.
There’s also the original: Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, which is made with ancho chiles, tamarind, and other spices. Both are available at retail outlets in 750ml bottles.