Taco Truck Cocktail

National Taco Day

Your cocktail calendar entry for: October
4
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Today we’re mixing up the Taco Truck cocktail because October 4 is National Taco Day.  It may not be Taco Tuesday, but we are of the belief that tacos are welcome 24/7, 365.  October 4 is as good a day as any, even if it’s not Mexico’s actual Dia del Taco, which falls on March 31.  In any event, hardly anything brings more joy than discovering a good taco truck, so the Taco Truck cocktail is clearly on point for the occasion.

National Taco Day

National Taco Day in the U.S. has a somewhat checkered history.  According to L.A. Taco it was introduced in good faith by Mexican Americans.  But it was ultimately appropriated by commercial interests.

The tale begins around 1961 in San Antonio, Texas.  One Roberto L. Gomez was the head of the San Antionio Social Civic Organization (SASCO), members of which took part in a campaign to help elect John F. Kennedy as President.  SASCO sent a 48-pound tamale for his birthday, “on behalf of citizens of the United States of Latin heritage.”  Not quite as big as the 1400 lb. block of cheese President Andrew Jackson placed in the White House foyer, but impressive nonetheless.  The tamale’s fate is unknown and disputed.  Texas Monthly inquired through the National Archives but only a shipping bill was found.  Nonetheless, the gifts continued and in 1964 a 55-pound taco was sent to Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson.

In 1967 Gomez lobbied for the week before Cinco de Mayo as National Taco Week.  Henry B. Gonzalez recognized SASCO in Congress in 1968 and declared National Taco Week to be from April 28 through May 4.  As he noted, “Many a tired palate has been restored to vigor and joy by the discovery of the taco.”  Truth spoken.

By the late 1980s commercial interests caught on.  Fast food giant Taco Bell tried introducing a National Taco Month in 1989 but failed.  In 2000 a chain called Chuy’s Tex Mex applied for a trademark for National Taco Day to be June 12.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the application.

Newspapers mentioned June 12 as “Chuy’s National Taco Day” through 2004.  But in 2005, for unknown reasons, newspapers and books declared the real day was October 4.  And it has stayed that way ever since.

Taco Truck Cocktail

As any taco aficionado can tell you, taco trucks are often the best local sources of tacos.  Especially if they are in a gas station or car wash parking lot.  Newcomers may start with carne asada or al pastor, but soon they’re ready to level up to lengua and tripas.  Hence, it’s time to mix up the Taco Truck cocktail.

This drink was invented around 2013 by Beau de Bois at The Corner Door bar and restaurant in the Culver City area of Los Angeles.  If it’s any consolation, it’s just a few blocks from Paco’s Tacos.

The Taco Truck fits neatly into the category of Negroni variations.  Analogous to the Boulevardier that substitutes bourbon for gin, or the Kingston Negroni that utilizes Jamaican rum, the Taco Truck brings mezcal to the party.  Like these drinks the ratio of ingredients is the ever so common 2:1:1.  But there’s an added twist.

The Taco Truck modifies the Campari used by infusing it with cinnamon and pineapple.  Worry not, this is nowhere near as demanding as it may sound and there is no need to dedicate an entire bottle.  It’s purely a matter of soaking pineapple chunks and cinnamon sticks in Campari placed in a jar.  We’ve scaled our recipe to one third of a bottle, which will be good for about eight visits to the taco truck.

taco truck cocktail

Taco Truck Cocktail

Smack in the category of Negroni variations, the Taco Truck cocktail substitutes mezcal for gin and modifies the Campari by infusing it with pineapple and cinnamon. The original recipe, for a commercial bar, infuses a bottle at a time, but we've scaled it to one third of a bottle to make it manageable for your home bar - and that should be good for about eight drinks. Clearly, this takes some pre-planning, but the results are worth it.
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Equipment

  • 1 Glass jar
  • Old Fashioned Glass

Ingredients
  

  • 1 oz Mezcal
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 8 oz Campari For infusion, one ounce per drink.
  • 9 oz Pineapple chunks
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • Garnish: Orange twist.

Instructions
 

  • Gently toast cinnamon stick in a dry pan and add to glass jar along with pineapple chunks and 8 ounces of Campari. Set aside.
  • After 12 hours remove cinnamon stick. Allow pineapple and Campari mixture to infuse for another 2 days. Strain into a clean container. This will keep in the refrigerator for a good while.
  • To assemble the drink:
  • Add one ounce each of mezcal, sweet vermouth and infused Campari to an Old Fashioned glass.
  • Add ice, preferably a single, large cube and stir.
  • Express orange twist over drink and garnish.
  • Drink, preferably with tacos.
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