Nothing screams summer quite like a chilled tequila cocktail, and while National Tequila Day may have been celebrated earlier this week, there’s absolutely no reason not to keep the celebration going, says mixologist Leo Robitschek.
“There’s nothing better for this time of year than the margarita,” explains Robitschek, an innovative mixologist who produces the forward-thinking beverage menu at gourmet New York City hotspots Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad Hotel. “But what’s inspiring about the margarita is that you can easily jazz it up by adding fresh fruits, herbs or spices.”
For Robitschek, who was born in Caracas, Venezuela and grew up in Miami, cocktails are a means of expression that allow him to be at both creative and analytic. He graduated from college with a degree in finance and worked for several years as a banker at Bear Stearns in NYC before he found himself longing for a career change. His parents encouraged him to pursue medicine and Robitschek went back to college to complete his medical school requirements. But in working as a bartender to support himself through a grueling schedule of classes, he found inspiration in the kitchen and decided that the allure of the culinary world was too irresistible to ignore.
“The hospitality of the bar is very similar to the social aspect of medicine,” explains the 31-year-old, who cut his teeth bartending at Sushi Samba in New York before landing a position with high-end foodie destination Eleven Madison Park. “You get to interact with someone, and then you receive the immediate satisfaction of guiding someone’s experience.”
And while Robitschek loves mixing up a variety of spirits, he’s a particular fan of tequila’s earthy terroir –an element that he says lends itself equally to pairings with summer’s grilled meats, fragrant produce and bright citrus.
“Creating a wonderful tequila cocktail is all about being rooted in the classics,” says Robitschek, a Tequila Don Julio ambassador. And there’s no better start than whipping up an “Aztec Summer,” his innovative take on the traditional margarita made with three variations on agave – the spirit of the Aztec Gods.
3/4 ounce Tequila Don Julio Blanco
1/4 ounce Apertif Wine
1/4 ounce Mezcal
1/4 ounce agave syrup
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
Cucumber slices for garnish
- Muddle cucumber in a cocktail shaker.
- Add Tequila Don Julio Blanco, Apertif Wine, Mezcal, Agave Syrup and Fresh Lime Juice into cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well.
- Strain contents into a rocks glass with fresh ice.
- Garnish with cucumber slice.