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Cocktail of the Week

Grilled & Chilled Tequila

T&T (Tacos and Tequila), Luxor, $125

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Made tableside only, and with quite a few steps of preparation, it's advisable to leave it to the Tequila Temptresses of T&T to do the work for you. They'll caramelize fresh fruit with sugar and the Grand Marnier, effectively "grilling" it with a hand-torch. Next comes the tequila, liqueur, marg mix, wine and some witty banter before the house-made espuma (whipped cream) and raspberry coulis are lovingly placed on top.

"I love the idea of 'grilled cocktails,'" says Ellis, "because fire and smoke add a dimension to drinks that no other flavor or technique can. A couple years ago we visited a buddy in New York (Naren Young) who was doing a caramelized cocktail, taking a page out of Jerry Thomas' book ["The Bar-Tender's Guide" or "How to Mix Drinks" , 1887], and that got me thinking how I could improve this drink that I had been working on for quite some time." Just how long is that? "I've been working on this recipe for 10 years, refining it slowly every couple of years."

A Look at Tequila

In the mouth, the drink has a complex range of flavors with a rich mouth feel, fruit-forward notes, what Ellis calls "a chubby body," and dry-yet-velvety finish. In a word: splurge.

Ingredients and method:

1 ½ oz Cabo Uno Extra Añejo Tequila

1 ½ oz Caramelized Grand Marnier Cuvée du Cent Cinquantenaire (150 anniversary)

¾ oz X-Rated Fusion Liqueur

2 oz fresh T&T margarita mix

2 oz Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon

Top with a thick layer of citrus and cardamom tincture espuma and a few drops of house-made raspberry coulis.

Not that I would expect you to actually attempt to try this at home, but such a creation deserves its ooh-aah moment in the sun. Mixologist/consultant Tobin Ellis of BarMagic of Las Vegas and I got down and dirty with some tequila last Thursday at T&T. Following a flight of four tequilas of progressive age (blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo) as well as one aged Metaxa with a scorpion bottled along for the ride, we moved on to the pièce de résistance, Ellis' signature "Grilled & Chilled," which has one foot in the sangria realm, one foot in the margarita realm and all the staying power of a fine cognac, thanks to the anniversary Grand Marnier.

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