Is it possible for a cocktail to be healthful? I say yes!
This is restaurant Cuchara’s masterfully concocted “Bandido”. Botanical and refreshing, it also happens to be one of the tastiest and most potent cocktails I’ve ever drunk. Drunk, it may make me, but I can still make it to (and through!) a power yoga class the following morning which I like to attribute to the heaping teaspoon of chia seeds thrown into the mix. Yes, chia – these tiny little seeds now widely recognized as a superfood:
Chia is known for its energy-boosting properties. If you’re a runner, you’ve probably heard of the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall in which he writes about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon – aptly nicknamed the Raramuri, or the running people – and their ability to run anywhere from 50-200 miles in one session, competitively or just for fun! The Tarahumara’s “running food” is chia, which is often consumed in the form of a drink (chia, lemon or lime juice, and water) called iskiate. For those who prefer to remain sober before their runs, I’ll post a recipe for iskiate soon. Meantime, here is an excerpt from the book:
“In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone. As tiny as those seeds are, they’re superpacked with omega-3s, omega-6s, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants. If you had to pick just one desert-island food you couldn’t do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home.
Chia was once so treasured, the Aztecs used to deliver it to their king in homage. Aztec runners used to chomp chia seeds as they went into battle, and the Hopis fueled themselves on chia during their epic runs from Arizona to the Pacific Ocean.”
I can’t say drinking iskiate gave me anything close to superhuman ability, but the few times I’ve drank it before a 3-mile run, I didn’t feel like I was dying (your clue that I’m not a runner). Will experiment further and report back in my iskiate post.
Now back to El Bandido. It’s made with Sotol and a float of Pimm’s. Sotol, like tequila, is a kind of mezcal (distilled alcohol made from the agave cactus).
Sotol is similar in flavor to tequila, but with more herbal undertones; Pimm’s, as many of you already know, is an herbal and botanical liqueur.
Herbal, botanical, seedy – so good, so Spring!
Oh and speaking of seedy, I almost forget to mention this: chia seeds produce a gel-like coating around themselves after being immersed in water for a bit (you will soak them before adding), so this drink actually has texture. You can definitely feel these tiny, smooth “balls” as soon as cocktail hits tongue. I adore this! (It’s the little things.)
A special thanks to Ana, co-owner of Cuchara (AMAZING Mexico City Cusine) for so warmly and generously providing this recipe. xoxo
Makes 1 cocktail
Note: Soak chia seeds in water until plumped (half hour should do the trick) before adding to cocktail.
- 1 ounce Plata Sotol
- .75 ounce lemon juice
- 1 ounce *simple syrup
- Heaping teaspoon of soaked chia seeds
- .75 ounce float of Pimm’s No. 1
- Splash of juice from jar of cocktail cherries (optional; my personal addition)
- Mint sprig (optional)
Combine first 4 ingredients in order listed and stir. Add ice. Pour Pimm’s over top (no need to mix).
Alternatively (my adaptation as shown in pics), shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker (except chia seeds) with ice. Pour into glass. Add chia.
Garnish with a sprig of mint.
*To make simple syrup, combine equal parts water and sugar into a saucepan. Boil gently and stir until sugar dissolves. Cool.