The Gin & Tonic and Vodka Tonic take up most of the real estate in the “and tonic” category, but this simple drink template is ripe for experimentation. Switch up your base spirit, or enlist a unique tonic, and you can drastically alter the outcome of the cocktail.
In recent years, we’ve witnessed the rise of Tequila Tonics and Rum Tonics, and we’ve seen craft tonics proliferate, giving drinkers a seemingly unlimited arsenal when it comes to mixing spirit with tonic. But such experimentation hasn’t yet reached the finish line, as evident by the Pechuga Tonic, a refreshing cocktail served at Cabuya, the restaurant and bar that sits atop the newly opened Andaz Mexico City Condesa.
The hotel is located in one of Mexico City’s most vibrant neighborhoods, where good drinks are easy to find. So Cabuya does its part to ensure guests and locals can score quality cocktails inside its doors.
The Pechuga Tonic starts with pechuga mezcal, a type of mezcal in which a raw chicken or turkey breast is hung inside the still during distillation — pechuga means “breast” in Spanish. From there, it includes Cointreau, peach liqueur, tangerine juice, and tonic water.
The Pechuga Tonic is inspired by the flavors of Mexico, explains Rocco Luna, the Bar Supervisor at Andaz Mexico City Condesa. “I think we have a wide variety of spirits, and I am very proud of the flavors we are able to find in Mexico. I believe this cocktail encapsulates the freshness and flavors of the country in a simple but flavorful drink.”
Luna acknowledges that it’s relatively uncommon to feature pechuga mezcal in cocktails, as many people opt to sip the spirit straight. But he likes that its complex, savory flavor sets it apart from more common mezcal varieties, like espadin. And while Luna prefers using tangerine juice to bring a little more sweetness to the drink, he says you can substitute fresh-squeezed orange juice without changing the flavor too much if you can’t easily find tangerines where you live.
The Pechuga Tonic is bright and citrusy, with all the flavor notes you want in a tall drink. The mezcal provides a sturdy base for the other ingredients to stand on, and just when the Cointreau starts to lead you into the direction of a Margarita, the peach liqueur and tangerine pull things back into a new direction. The bubbly tonic lends a hint of bitterness to round out the flavors, and it lengthens the drink for extra refreshment.
The Gin & Tonic isn’t going anywhere, but the Pechuga Tonic deserves a spot in your summer rotation. It walks the perfect line between interesting craft cocktail and easy, DIY recipe you can make at home. You don’t even need shaker tins. Once you’ve acquired the ingredients, you can make the drink directly in your glass.