Gather a crowd around this refreshing summer-ready toronja (grapefruit) punch.

Gather a crowd around this refreshing summer-ready toronja (grapefruit) punch. (Photo/Courtesy Marcos Tello)

Weekend Cocktail: Summertime Jarritos Citrus Punch

Who doesn’t love Jarritos soda? The brightly colored, fizzy Mexican soft drinks – offered in popular tropical flavors ranging from mandarina (mandarin orange) to piña (pineapple) are a favorite refreshment that form the basis for many happy childhood memories among Mexicanos and statesiders alike. And it’s a nostalgic treat for master mixologist Marcos Tello, a Los Angeles native whose earliest memories are centered around traditional Mexican dishes and treats like syrupy sweet Jarritos.

“I grew up in my grandmother’s kitchen as my parents were always working,” recalls Tello, who owns a wildly successful cocktail consulting company called Tello Demarest Liquid Assets. “Whether it was humble, everyday meals or special occasion dishes, my earliest influences and memories were all about food.”

Weekend Cocktail: Summertime Jarritos Citrus Punch marcos tello headshot edited food NBC Latino News

Mixologist Marcos Tello.

Tello, whose father is a psychologist and mother is a nurse, never expected to end up in hospitality. As an earnest student studying theater arts at California Polytechnic State University, however, working at the bar of the local T.G.I. Friday’s seemed like a natural fit. He quickly became known as someone who could create a killer margarita and deliver it with a great smile. And as the tips became better and the acting  jobs came fewer and farther apart, Tello decided to form a cocktail catering company with a childhood friend.

That was 10 years ago, and his culinary journey has since been filled with tremendous success and personal growth. Inspired by the New York cocktail culture and speakeasy scene, Tello is now acknowledged throughout the West Coast as a mixologist who nearly single-handedly helped create and sustain “classic cocktail sophistication” in Los Angeles, thanks to his enterprising work at several local culinary landmarks.

“What defines me is the fact that I’m versatile and don’t stay within one trend; researching and learning comes from my acting background and it’s something I take seriously every day,” explains Tello, who has created award-winning cocktail programs at Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, The Edison and Bow & Truss (just to name a few!).  As someone who has received the highest level of spirit and cocktail education in the industry – the B.A.R. certification – Tello is always refining his skills and artistic ability at the bar with drinks ranging from the whimsical to the precise. Even so, he says, he loves a party-ready cocktail like the punch recipe offered below. Classic, sweet and nostalgic with the floater of toronja Jarritos, this recipe is a fun infusion for any gathering this summer.

Toronja Punch

Ingredients:

3 whole lemon peels

3 bar spoons of superfine sugars

8 oz. tequila blanco

3 oz. agave nectar

3 oz. fresh lemon juice

2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice

1⁄4 oz. grapefruit bitters

6 oz. Jarritos grapefruit soda

Technique:

In a liter container combine the superfine sugar and lemon peels and muddle together until all sugar is dissolved.Then add all of the ingredients, except Jarrritos, and stir with ice briefly. Using a chinois, strain the total mixture over into a punch bowl with a large block of ice. Top up with Jarritos and serve.

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