Cooking with tequila

Fire up the grill — we found your new favorite warm-weather pairing.

Here’s the thing about summer: We can eat tacos and drink margaritas every day. Every day. Tijuanan chef Javier Plascencia, one of Mexico’s high-profile culinary stars — he’s part of a movement defining Baja cuisine — shows us that tequila isn’t just the perfect accompaniment for summertime dishes, it’s an ideal ingredient, too.

“The flavors of tequila — caramel, wood, citrus — open your appetite,” says chef Plascencia, who was in NYC whipping up recipes for an event with Tequila Don Julio. “And the caramel and honey flavor profiles add complexity to the overall taste of the dish.” Plus, he explains, the wooden barrels the tequila is aged in give it a smoky quality, perfect for grilling. Try his recipe below.

Recipe: Oaxacan barbecue chicken

(Serves six)


1⁄2 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄2 cup Tequila Don Julio Anejo
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 tablespoon sea salt
2 cups ketchup
1⁄4 cup plum tomato, chopped
2 teaspoons mole negro
1⁄3 cup apple cider vinegar
1⁄4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1⁄2 cup shredded piloncillo, Mexican brown sugar (substitute: 1⁄2 cup dark brown sugar and 1 teaspoon molasses)
1⁄3 teaspoon Mexican hot sauce (Tamazula, Valentina or Bufalo)
2 pounds chicken, cut into pieces (substitute shrimp, mushrooms, onions and anything else you want to grill)

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the onion, garlic and tequila. Simmer for 10 minutes or until onion is translucent.

2. Mix in the black pepper, salt, ketchup, tomato, mole, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, piloncillo and hot sauce. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Run sauce through a strainer if you prefer a smooth sauce.

5. Brush sauce all over chicken. Cook on a hot grill, brushing occasionally with sauce.

Cocktail pairing

Aztec Summer
Created by New York mixologist Leo Robitschek

3⁄4 ounce Tequila Don Julio Blanco
1⁄4 ounce apertif wine
1⁄4 ounce mezcal
1⁄4 ounce agave syrup
1⁄4 ounce fresh lime juice
Cucumber slices for garnish

1. Muddle cucumber in a cocktail shaker.  
2. Add Tequila Don Julio Blanco, apertif wine, mezcal, agave syrup and fresh lime juice into cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well.
3. Strain contents into a rocks glass with fresh ice.
4. Garnish with cucumber slice.


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