Before she had a liquor license, Clementine's Cristin Dadant, a self-proclaimed "proprietress extraordinaire," had to take inventive measures in serving good craft cocktails with dinner.
"Customers would bring in their own bottle [of liquor], I'd mix up a homemade syrup of whatever fresh herbs we had at the time, then add their hooch and top with soda water," she said.
Out of this organic process came the recipe for the bright, bold Tequila Fresca — the perfect summertime drink to order when hitting up the newly opened Clementine at the Creative Alliance.
As its name suggests, the Tequila Fresca defines freshness. The Highlandtown branch of Clementine takes the same philosophy toward food and drink as the popular Harford Road original: keep it local and make it from scratch. The cocktail is made with two different homemade syrups: one with fresh basil and lime, the other rosemary and lemon. Add a hearty helping of Silver tequila and plenty of garden-picked tarragon (Dadant and company hit up local farmers' markets weekly) and you get a balanced, layered taste of savory, then sweet. Forget the usual tart aftertaste that accompanies many other tequila mixed drinks: this one goes down smooth.
And don't worry about messing up the recipe. Dadant said it's difficult to do so with a Tequila Fresca. "If you put too much greens in or add a little extra tequila, all the better," she said. "Why not? It's good for you."
How to Make The Tequila Fresca
3 oz. 1800 Silver tequila
Juice of 1/2 lime
3-inch stalk of fresh tarragon, shredded
1 1/2 oz. basil-lime syrup
1 1/2 oz. rosemary-lemon syrup
Shake all ingredients "like hell," for thirty seconds; strain into a chilled martini glass.
Where to Get The Tequila Fresca
Clementine at the Creative Alliance
3134 Eastern Ave., Highlandtown