Tequila-based Gulp of Mexico, a twist on tiki cocktails that traditionally call for rum, was aged in the minds of the mixologists who concocted it at Salt & Barrel in Bay Shore.
One of the oyster and craft cocktail bar’s owners has been holding the five-ingredient drink back for two years due to its complexity — until now.
“The Gulp of Mexico basically came about when I was trying to think of a tiki cocktail,” says Morgan Flynn, who co-owns Salt & Barrel with Ryan Flynn, his sister; his dad, Jim Flynn; and Danielle Grosseto, another partner.
Flynn, 43, who stopped bartending a few years back, swaps rum for tequila as the main spirit in Gulp of Mexico. The cocktail specifically calls for añejo tequila, which is a “big, aged tequila, and it’s full of flavor.” This tequila “plays with all of the other ingredients.”
He didn’t settle on the tequila type until after crafting the majority of the drink. He began with orgeat syrup, an almond-based ingredient commonly found in classic tiki cocktails. Every additional ingredient leads him down another path, but what matters is that everything ends up connecting.
“Basically, to me, when I’m creating something, it’s like a web,” Flynn says. Orgeat syrup pointed him to Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira, an Italian liqueur based on apricots and almonds — “That’s the flavoring of it.”
The amaretto directed him to Giffard Apricot Liqueur, a golden yellow liqueur with almond and apricot notes and aromas. The nutty profile and dry fruit led him to sherry.
“A lot of sherries actually have notes of dry nuts, dry fruit to [them],” he says. It was after adding sherry to the mix that he evaluated tequila types for Gulp of Mexico. “I would say when it comes to cocktail making and stuff, not only does my passion for bartending all those years show through, but also a lot of [the] time I spent in the culinary world — in the kitchens and learning food…” he says.
He based his decision to go with añejo on the following: Blanco would disappear and reposado wouldn’t be “heavy enough.” This left the co-owner with only one option: añejo. Fresh-pressed lime juice pulls the drink together, and it’s the last ingredient to go into the shaker.
“We just want it chilled,” he says. “We don’t want to dilute it.”
The bartender then shakes the cocktail shaker softly, being careful not to dilute the finished product. The chilled liquid is poured over ice resting in a stemless tulip glass.
“It basically looks like a tiki drink,” he says.
The cocktail is then garnished with dehydrated pineapple rind.
“[The cocktail] never made it onto the menu in the beginning,” he says. “It’s a drink that I created a long time ago, but it was so complex. You don’t think five ingredients is that complex, but when you’re trying to make a lot of drinks and you’re doing a lot of stuff, it is a lot.
“Most classic cocktails are three ingredients,” he continues. “You never think that getting two more is that difficult, but it is, and it’s time-consuming. It wasn’t until my bar staff got to the point where I felt comfortable with them — that they could execute this drink when they were busy on Friday, Saturday night — I added it on.”
Added to the restaurant’s bar menu just a few months ago, Gulp of Mexico is for the Salt & Barrel customer who wants a smooth drink with a “little bit of a kick.” Someone longing for summer, toes in sand, and sun rays tanning skin and warming rough seas.
“Knock the Corona over, and have a Gulp of Mexico,” he says.
Salt & Barrel is located at 61 West Main St. in Bay Shore. They can be reached at 631-647-8818 or saltandbarrel.com.