If you’ve spent time in a Mexican restaurant, you’ve probably noticed bottles full of colorful liquid in a curvy, clear glass: Jarritos.
Jarritos are a naturally sweet Mexican soda that came about after World War II when businessman Don Francisco Hill created a new line of soft drinks sold in a larger bottle. Originally offered in coffee flavor only, Hill expanded production after he developed a process to remove tamarind juice extract. Soon after, Jarritos became the most popular drink in Mexico and one of the most popular sodas among Latin consumers in the United States. Though it took more than 40 years for Jarritos to make it’s way here, today, it’s as easy to find them in Mexican restaurants as it is alongside taco trucks and on supermarket shelves.
This beloved soda is also popping up in bars. With up to 15 flavors in production (including hibiscus, guava, mango, and grapefruit), mixologists are turning a childhood favorite into a new adult pleasure. Mixing up Jarritos cocktails is not as far fetched as you may think. In fact, Grapefruit Jarritos is the secret ingredient in La Paloma, a tequila-based cocktail invented in the town of Tequila, Jalisco. Delicious and refreshing, it’s popularity has skyrocketed past that of the common margarita.
So what should you do if you find yourself in possession of a Jarritos stash? We asked mixologists for their favorite cocktail combinations. First, start small, said Jacque Bezuidenhout, the brand ambassador for Partida Tequila. To get a handle on what combinations you most enjoy, Bezuidenhout suggests picking a basic spirit (tequila, vodka, or rum), and splashing in a bit of your favorite Jarritos. Then, taste. But don’t go overboard, Bezuidenhout cautions, Jarritos are very sweet, so a little goes a long way.
When you’ve found a combination you like, start making classic cocktails swapping in Jarritos. Start with daiquiris and margaritas (swapping out the fruit juices and swapping in Jarritos) and note the proportions you like best. Next, get into the science. To balance out the sweetness of the soda, Bezuidenhout suggests adding a bit of fresh lemon or lime. Again, go for taste. Is it refreshing and subtle? Or is it syrupy and thick? And remember to mix, not shake. Since Jarritos are carbonated you want to protect the fizz, not dull it by shaking.
Finally, pair it. Jarritos are intensely flavored. So stay away from delicate foods that will be destroyed by the strength of the cocktail lingering on your taste buds. Instead, go for classics that can stand up to the flavor: chips and salsa and spicy dips.
Now you’re ready to call over some friends and set up the bar.
Originally published at The Latin Kitchen.