Summer is just around the corner and chilled fruity cocktails – sipped by the pool or patio – are just begging to be mixed up by the pitcher. And there’s no doubt that fruit cocktails, however simple, always please. In fact, that’s the motto that master mixologist Armando Rosario swears by, and one that happily, non-professional cocktail aficionados can put into practice at home.
Rosario – a spirits educator who has worked at glitzy establishments including Le Cirque 2000 in New York and the Wynn Las Vegas – has been practicing the craft of expertly mixing drinks for nearly two decades. Even he, who has exhaustive knowledge of creative technique and gastronomical skill, says that he’s won more competitions than he’d like to admit with the simplest of recipes. So when Rosario – who has been named “Best Bartender in America” by Cheers Magazine and who has represented the United States at the World Championship USBG Cocktail Competition – says that the best drinks can be made with fewer than five ingredients and using one of his favorite techniques, we’re all ears.
“The most exciting and flavorful cocktails are made when you allow the ingredients to speak for themselves,” says Rosario, who grew up in Portugal and speaks five languages fluently. “Bartenders often will hide the less-than-stellar quality of ingredients by adding more and more to a drink – but to create something delicious, often less is more.”
Enter one of his favorite techniques: muddling. Common enough behind the bar – in essence, you’re simply mashing a solid before combining it with liquid ingredients – Rosario says that paying attention to this step can make all the difference when it comes to an expertly-blended cocktail. For a perfect fruity cocktail, he recommends taking the time to gently pressing the fruit (make sure it’s ripe!) of your choice with a muddler, which releases the fragrance and flavors of the fruit. Taking extra care with this step, explains Rosario, will definitely release your inner master mixologist. Here’s one of his favorite recipes, a tequila cocktail which punctuates the floral flavors of kiwi thanks to a fragrant blend of mint and basil leaves.
The Savory Kiwi Smash
2 oz Partida Blanco tequila
1 kiwi, sliced in quarters
2 mint leaves
1 basil leaf
1.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 oz Partida 100 percent organic Agave nectar
Preparation: In a mixing glass muddle mint, basil and kiwi with lemon juice. Add remaining ingredients, ice and shake. Pour into a rocks glass (do not strain). Garnish with a sprig of mint and a slice of kiwi.