Guayaba Tequila Sour
Shake all ingredients but the egg white in an ice-filled shaker until frost forms on the outside of the shaker. Double strain into a chilled coupe. Dump ice from the shaker, and pour the strained ingredients back into it. Add the egg white and a stainless steel whisk ball* and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain the cocktail back into the chilled coupe.**
Garnish by placing 3 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters in the center of the cocktail, then drag a toothpick through the bitters to form a sun design.
*optional, but makes for a frothier cocktail
**This method of preparing egg white cocktails is called a ‘reverse dry shake’.
Labor Day is always a bittersweet holiday. Although a day off work is always welcome, and I love the fall, I hate to say goodbye to the lazy days of summer. This year is even worse because Labor Day marks the last day of our annual family vacation in southern California. It doesn’t matter how many times we visit, I’m perpetually floored by the Garden of Eden-level of fruit growing out here. It’s an embarrassment of riches, with fruit that would sell for top dollar at an East Coast Whole Foods rotting in the middle of the sidewalk.
I see it as my duty as a traveler to lighten the burden of this plenty, so I build a cocktail every year around whatever’s ripe. My sister-in-law has created a new seating area since our last visit, so I notice a tree in the back of her yard that I hadn’t seen before. The ground under it is littered with golf ball-sized golden fruit with an intense aroma of pineapple mixed with citrus and a hint of bitterness.
I ask my sister-in-law what they are. She thinks loquats, but she’s not sure. I grab three ripe ones, wash them and cut them into quarters. I make a simple syrup with 1 cup each of water and sugar, add the fruit, bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. It smells like something that would pair well with rosemary, so I trim a 3-inch-long sprig off the hedge that lines the side of the house and drop it into the pan.
After 15 minutes, I cut the heat, crush the fruit in the pan and let it cool for 15 minutes before straining. The syrup is fantastic, and after foraging in our host’s gorgeous new bar for two ounces of Hornitos Reposado Tequila, I pick and juice a lemon from the backyard, then throw everything into a shaker with three dashes Peychaud’s Bitters. The cocktail is delicious, but it lacks body. I decide to add an egg white and turn it into a proper sour. This becomes the drink of our vacation.
Before doing my write-up, I figure I’d better know for sure what kind of fruit I’m using. I look up images of loquats, and it is clear that these are not them. I run a few more searches and still cannot figure it out. Luckily, my sister-in-law has a Filipino friend who’s an expert on California fruit trees [this is a BIG category of expertise], so she sends her my pictures, and her friend tells her that they are Mexican guavas [guayabas]. She said that Filipinos like to cook with the green, unripe guayabas.
Information in hand, it’s time to say goodbye to cloudy mornings, sunny afternoons, palm trees, low humidity, wide beaches and fruit as far as the eye can see. I pick a pound of green guayabas and shove them and a foraged pomelo into my carry-on bag. I hug the best family anyone could hope to marry into, and I point the rental car toward LAX. Until next year, SoCal. I’ll miss you.