Handcrafted cocktails have become de rigeur in Hollywood, and nearly every hip, hot, and trendy club now offers their own nifty concoctions for the masses to consume. Not all libations are created equally though. Thankfully, Supperclub LA has a doozy of a cocktail menu, featuring many creations that have made me very, very happy at some point or another. Ranking at the top for me is the Cactus Margarita — a smoky, spicy, and generally wonderful drink that became my best friend during one evening at the club last October. Thankfully, head mixologist Josh Curtis invited me over to Supperclub recently to show me how to make the drink. Sacred knowledge, I tell you. And now I’m going to share it with you.
After the jump, photos of Supperclub, the Cactus Margarita (as well as a few other beverages), and then my attempt to recreate the drink chez moi…
Supperclub before the doors open. I felt VERY cool.
The bar, in case you couldn’t figure that out.
Josh uses Don Julio reposado. Only the finest.
Josh shows off the booze. When it comes to tequila, quality counts. The Don Julio makes all the difference (and I’m not just saying that because Don Julio totally JUST sent me a free bottle).
The mixology commences.
About an ounce and a half of tequila (or more). If you have good tequila like the aforementioned Don Julio, you can go stronger and still retain great flavor.
Josh then pours in a pre-made mix of lemon, lime, agave nectar, and prickly pear purÃ©e.
The result: an invitingly pinkish (looks more salmon in the lighting) drink.
It looks great, but something is missing…
The all important garnish. It really is important. The jalapeno gives the drink an amazing “bouquet” (I hate using that word, but it’s appropriate) that meshes perfectly with the flavors.
Obviously, a red jalapeno is aesthetically best, but a green one is fine too.
Me, excited for what awaits. Photography by IndianJones.
Testing. Glorious testing.
I swear I could drink these bad boys all night long.
Soon the lights dim, signaling the start of business.
Funky colors and lights make the experience feel rather chic.
I continue to imbibe, rather happily I might add.
Josh then pulls out this imposing skull. It’s filled with chili-infused vodka.
A quick swig of the vodka.
Oh damn. That shizz is HOT.
Soon IndianJones is drawn to the allure of the skull.
He’s all smiles, thinking this will be a walk in the park.
So far, so good…
Next, Josh serves us up something called the Elevation 37. I don’t remember what’s in it, but I can assure you it’s incredibly tasty.
Further mugging for the camera.
I think this was drink number four (we had two margaritas, I think). I should remind you that it had been all of about twenty or twenty-five minutes. Fun times.
Another satisfied customer.
Conveniently, IndianJones took pictures of the cocktail menu. Here’s part I.
Part II. (You might remember On The Fritz from an earlier post)
The next evening, it was time to recreate the cocktail. Josh didn’t actually give us proportions; so this is an unofficial recipe. We start with a prickly pear.
Prickly pears are actually the fruit of cacti (hence the Cactus Margarita). In Los Angeles, you can find them at Ralph’s for about a buck each (and even cheaper at the Korean). I’m not sure about their availability throughout the rest of the country.
First, slice the tip off the prickly pear. Then score the thick, yellowy skin the length of the fruit. Next, just peel the skin off, exposing the bright pink pulp.
Voila! Super easy. The resulting inner-core looks sort of like a frozen dollop of borscht sorbet.
A quick spin in the Magic Bullet turns the prickly pear into prickly pear puree. Many of the seeds remain intact, but don’t worry — they’re edible and easy enough to strain out.
I sadly didn’t have Don Julio reposado at the time, but this sleek bottle of 1800 was on sale for the excellent price of $18.99. At Ralph’s, no less — home of the massive rip off.
IndianJones and I decided that we probably needed an ounce of lime juice and an ounce of lemon juice. Here I am pouring the citrus into the shaker.
My hands are a blur of excitement.
Not sure what this is about.
IndianJones’s expert camera-work was sure to miss EVERY significant action. But don’t worry, I have like twenty photos of my hands generically moving.
An ounce of purÃ©e. Each prickly pear seemed to generate two ounces of purÃ©e.
Half an ounce of agave nectar.
Bottles of joy.
At last, tequila. One and a half ounces.
I was out of tumblers; so I opt for a chilled mug.
And there we have it. Time to taste…
First things first: testing the aforementioned bouquet. So far so good…
Going in for the big gulp.
My face registers displeasure, but I can assure you it could not be farther from the truth. I just do that sometimes.
In an effort to properly express my feelings toward the drink, I emote more dramatically.
And here’s some good news: we found a more attractive glass. Success indeed!
I can assure you all that this cocktail is a winner. I’ve made it a few times since, and it always turns out wonderfully. It’s perhaps not AS perfect as Josh’s version, but he also uses better tequila, which may make all the difference. Either way, if you can find prickly pears, this is definitely a recipe you should try out. Once again, here are the proportions we used to recreate Josh Curtis’s drink:
1 oz prickly pear purÃ©e
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz lime juice
1/2 oz agave nectar
1.5 oz reposado tequila (don’t use blanco or gold)
1 slice jalapeno
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake and strain over rocks. Top with the slice of jalapeno.
Thanks to Josh and Supperclub for sharing the drink!