Gabriel Orta and Tequila Don Julio: Easy Tequila Cocktails To Make at Home
|All photos by Laine Doss|
|Gabriel Orta enjoys his tequila.|
Best Bartender 2012: Gabriel Orta
As I walked into the W Hotel South Beach, I was greeted by a friendly gentleman who immediately whisked me to a suite on the 14th floor. Upon opening the door, I was pleased to find two amazing sights: a panoramic view of South Beach and the Atlantic -- and Bar Lab's Gabriel Orta pouring me a glass of Tequila Don Julio.
You would think Orta and his Bar Lab partner Elad Zvi would be taking it easy between closing their pop-up lounge, The Broken Shaker, and the opening of their new restaurant/lounge in November. On the contrary, the two mixologists have been traveling the country as guest bartenders, representing different spirits brands at competitions, media tours, and conventions, like Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.
This time, Orta was tasked with creating some summer and fall cocktails showcasing Tequila Don Julio -- and I was tasked with tasting them.
As always, Orta's cocktails are infused with bitters and herbs -- ingredients he finds essential for a balanced drink. Though the flavor profiles were intricate, he promised me these cocktails were easy enough to make at home. As he mixed, stirred, slapped around a few herbs (gently, to release their oils and essences), and worked his shaker, we chatted about spirits "I live for tequila. I die for tequila," he told me.
We also talked about how best to pair food and cocktails. Do you try to match flavor profiles in both drink and dish or go for opposites? "You can go both ways," Orta said. "Generally, I like to start with a cocktail that compliments the dish with like flavors, then progress to profiles that are completely opposite. Like a salted cocktail with a sweet dessert. That always works."
Orta makes mixology look easy (isn't that what real pros always do?), but after the tutorial, I'm pretty sure I can follow the recipes. Hell, after all these tequila-based cocktails, I'm pretty sure I can play the piano and initiate world peace.