What’s red, white and green and pays homage to Mexico – La Bandera.
If you’re a tequila lover, you are of course familiar with the many cocktails that feature this spirit, from the spicy jalapeno Margarita to a refreshingly tart Paloma, or the beautifully colored Tequila Sunrise, but do you know about an under the radar drink that is popular throughout Mexico, but not here in the United States? It comes in a trio of glasses, each representing the colors of the Mexican flag. One contains blanco (unaged) tequila, the second is fresh squeezed lime juice, and the third is a spicy tomato juice blend called “sangrita”. No, I did not say sangria. That is something entirely different. Sangria is more of a wine based punch with fruit, where Sangrita is typically more tomato based with some fruit flavors.
At first glance, looking at the presentation of 3 small glasses, you may think these are to be consumed as “shots”, but these are meant to be leisurely sipped and savored in any combination of order. It’s all up to you. You get to decide how to taste them together.
Tequila is the most emblematic spirit of Mexico. It is often drank for special celebrations and occasions. Some of the most significant days that La Bandera would be consumed would certainly be for Flag Day on February 24th. It is also popular for Mexico’s Independence Day (September), Revolution Day (November), and Cinco de Mayo (May). The flag has 3 distinct stripes of color – the green represents independence; the white represents the country’s unity and the red represents the blood of revolutionaries and heroes who gave their “sangrita” for their beloved country. The Mexican flag also has a coat of arms at its center. It depicts a golden eagle eating a rattlesnake over a prickly pear cactus (nopal). This coat of arms dates back to prehistoric times and a version of the story is that the Mexica people journeyed to a place to settle which their sun god, Huitzilopochtli, had indicated to them would be known when they saw the signal of a golden eagle devouring a snake. The place that they settled is what was then known as Tenochtitlan, and is now Mexico City.
Enough with the history lesson, let’s make this cocktail!
How to make for 6 servings.
You can use tall shot glasses, champagne flutes, or even plastic punch cups depending on your setting or occasion, but I do recommend using clear glasses so you can enjoy the celebratory red, white, and green effect!
Gather 18 glasses (3 for each guest)
Glass #1 (the white): Pour your favorite tequila blanco into 6 glasses. I also like to use tajin around the rim of this glass (you can also use regular salt or omit this part). Prior to pouring the tequila, just rub a lime wedge around the top of your shot glass and dip them upside down onto your plate of tajin.
Glass #2 (the green): Squeeze fresh lime juice into 6 glasses. You’ll need about 2 limes per person.
Glass #3 (the red): The sangrita portion of this cocktail is simple but has no official recipe. There are as many variations for it as there are for mole sauces. It is usually tomato juice based with tartness from orange juice and/or lime juice and sweetness from pomegranate juice and/or peach nectar. Spice is essential but don’t overdo it. You can even try your own blend with cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, etc. You get to be creative with it!
Blend the below ingredients into a small pitcher with some ice and then you can pour into the individual glasses. Feel free to adjust the amounts according to your preference for savory or sweet.
6 oz. Tomato Juice
3 oz. Pomegranate Juice or Peach Nectar
4 oz. Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
2 oz. Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
A few dashes Grenadine
A few dashes of spicy pepper sauce (I like Tabasco)
A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
A pinch of salt
A few grinds of black pepper
Garnishes can include slices of jalapeno or cilantro.
Make sure to share how to enjoy the tasting experience with your guests – they should alternate sips from all of the 3 glasses separately enjoying the smooth taste of blanco tequila with the tartness of the lime juice and the spicy/sweet mix of the sangrita.
You may find that you really enjoy the Sangrita itself. You can use it for other cocktails like a Bloody Mary for a Sunday brunch. It’s also great to drink on its own as well! In a pinch, when I didn’t have tomato juice, I actually used my fresh grape tomatoes from the garden and put all the above ingredients into a blender to make a super fresh and healthy summer drink.
Now you can say you’ve learned a bit of history about Mexico’s actual bandera and also learned how to make a splash at your next celebration with La Bandera!
Enjoy and Viva Mexico!