In it’s most ideal form, Cinco de Mayo is less a specific celebration of the Mexican army’s 1862 underdog victory over the much more massive and heavily equipped French army and more a general, symbolic point of pride for Mexicans and Mexican Americans.
But, in fact, most of just use it as an excuse to eat Mexican food, hang out with friends, and drink Margaritas.
Which, honestly, I’m pretty okay with. As long as we know it’s origins, I’m generally of the mind that life’s short, so why not take any excuse to celebrate a thing?
And Margaritas are great and everything, but, every since living in Brooklyn and frequenting a relatively new Gowanus establishment called Lavender Lake, we’ve been in love with one of their mainstay cocktails, the Night Heat.
The bar’s in a beautiful space right on the Gowanus Canal and they offer some of the best house made pickled vegetables, bar snacks, and original drinks around.
We’ve never acquired the exact recipe for the Night Heat, but we know it’s primary ingredient is Pechuga organic mescal from celebrated handcrafted mezcal producer, Del Maguey. Pechuga has a smokey, almost scotch-like taste that, honestly, reminds you a little of old bandages…in the best of ways, if that’s possible. It’s difficult to describe, but we love it.
For the rest of the simple recipe, we essentially followed the blueprint of a Margarita recipe, substituting fresh lemon juice for lime and a homemade rosemary syrup instead of Cointreau or Triple Sec, both of which have lost favor in our home in the past few years anyway in favor of simple syrups.
Those seem to be the only ingredients of the original Night Heat and, from our home experimentation, this recipe seems to really nail it on the head.
How do you make simple syrups?
We wrote up homemade syrups in detail way back in 2010, but, basically, you take two or so cups of purified water, bring to boil, add a cup or so of granulated raw sugar, lower to a simmer, and allow to reduce until the sugar’s dissolved, stirring occasionally.
In the case of rosemary syrup, just add five or so sprigs of rosemary as you’re simmering and then store with a fresh on when transferred to your storage container and chilled. Just be sure you don’t reduce the syrup too much so that you keep it relatively watery and mixes will with you lemon + mezcal.
Click on the recipe to the right or right-click to download the PDF, and enjoy.