Día de los Muertos: It’s a gorgeous holiday that both Houston mixologist (and Julep owner) Alba Huerta and chef Claudette Zepeda celebrate. Each Latina, both of whom are members of our Chefs’ Collective, brings her own perspective and family traditions to the early November holiday. Like many of Mexican heritage, Alba and Claudette celebrate family and cherish loved ones who have passed by constructing colorful altars with remembrances, then mark the occasion with a feast—Chef Claudette with a tamalefest and Alba with marigold-infused beverages.
The duo are partnering this Wednesday, October 27th for a class celebrating the holiday. Claudette will cook her fideo tacos enmolados; Alba will show us how to make her gorgeous marigold-infused tequila-based By & By Gold Buck cocktail (recipe below). They’ll also share stories about their holiday memories. Join us!
For those unfamiliar with its charms, the Day of the Dead, called Día de Muertos or Día de los Muertos in Spanish, is a deeply personal celebration. It recalls the lives of loved ones lost, conjoining the living with the dead for a moment in time every year.
Mexicans make pilgrimages to graveyards, host parades, and ornament their homes with marigolds and terciopelo, a crushed-velvet like flower. You might spy papel picado, ornamental cut paper, adorning the walls of a home, or an ofrenda (a home altar) decorated with little sugar skulls and sweets in the image of their ancestors’ most beloved foods. Often you’ll smell delicious foods such as mole negro, a work-intensive black sauce meant for special occasions, cooking.
We asked Alba to share her stunning and emblematic By & By Gold Buck cocktail with us in advance of the class and tell us a bit about her own traditions.
What is behind the name?
“By & By means a future time and occasion. The use of the cempasuchil flower, marigold, is to guide our ancestors’ spirits back home with its scent. The use of marigold and the name of the cocktail is to infer that the return of one’s spirit will be a future time and occasion.”
What flavor do the marigold leaves contribute to the tequila?
“The dry marigolds provide a spice and tannin to the drink and add a beautiful orange amber color.”
How to you celebrate Dia De Los Muertos?
“Dia De Los Muertos is traditionally celebrated on All Saints’ Day (November 1st) and All Souls’ Day (November 2nd). Altars are built in our homes to commemorate our lost loved one’s lives and they are filled with items that belonged to them and they loved. All of this is to bring them home so they can be with us in spirit.”
By & By Gold Buck
1 1/2 oz (45 ml) marigold-infused reposado tequila (see below)
3/4 oz (20 ml) equal parts honey and hot water, cooled
3/4 oz (20 ml) fresh lime juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 1/2 oz (45 ml) ginger beer
Fresh mint spring and marigold blossom for garnish
Glass: Tall Zombie 14oz
To make the marigold-infused reposado tequila, mix 1 oz (28 g) dried marigold leaves with 750 ml (25 oz) of reposado tequila for 4 hours. Strain the leaves from the tequila; store infused tequila in the refrigerator.
Combine the marigold-infused tequila, honey mixture, lime juice and peychaud’s bitters in a shaker with cubed ice. Shake until well chilled and strain into a tall 14-oz glass filled with cubed ice. Top with the ginger beer. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and a marigold blossom. Makes 1 drink.