Cocktail of the Week

We Got the Beet

Just in time for the upcoming summer season, the Museum of the American Cocktail hosted an event last week at the Georgetown Four Seasons Hotel celebrating popular drinks from South of the Border. Three bartenders from Bourbon Steak—Duane Sylvester, JP Caceres and Jamie McBain—each prepared cocktails featuring spirits from Latin America and the Caribbean. Sylvester, whose family hails from Trinidad and Tobago, presented two rum drinks, a classic punch and mojito. Caceres, from Bolivia, presented two traditional South American cocktails, the caipirinha, made with cachaca from Brazil, the pisco sour, and the forged frompisco, a Peruvian grape-based spirit.

McBain presented the only original cocktail of the evening—a crimson-red tequila and beet juice concoction called “We Got the Beet.” Being a tequila lover, I am always on the lookout for non-traditional agave tipples. But for a person who doesn’t like beets, I approached this concoction with hesitation. I later learned that Jamie, himself, doesn’t eat beets either.

He developed the recipe after receiving multiple requests as a bartender for flavored margaritas. “I get asked to make flavored margaritas, which I don’t,” Jamie said sternly. “This is my small concession.”

The classic margarita is a simple formula. Consisting of tequila, lime juice and a sweetener—usually an orange liqueur like Cointreau or triple sec—it yields a pleasing sweet and sour and potentially salty profile if you enjoy a salted rim.

Jamie’s five-ingredient recipe of tequila, beet juice, agave syrup, lime and Averna Amaro, creates a multi-layered complex cocktail. Amaro—meaning “bitter” in Italian—is an herbal liqueur, usually enjoyed as an after-dinner digestif. It is produced by macerating herbs, roots, flowers, bark and citrus peels in alcohol, mixing it with sugar syrup, and allowing it to age in casks or bottles. Averna has a distinct herbaceous flavor that tempers the sweetness of the beet juice and highlights the root vegetable’s earthy quality. The result is a harmonious balance of sweet, sour, bitter and salty.

For tequila, Jamie uses Partido Reposado for this cocktail. Reposado—meaning “rested” in Spanish—refers to any 100 percent agave tequila, which has been aged between two and 12 months in oak barrels. Jamie enjoys the subtle smoky flavor the reposado tequila imparts in this drink.

For those planning to make this cocktail at home, finding the beet juice can be tricky. A health food store that sells fresh juices may be your only pre-made option. Otherwise, you’ll need a juicer to make it at home. At Bourbon Steak, Jamie uses beets that have been steamed first. But if you would prefer a more pronounced earthy flavor in your cocktail, he suggests roasting the vegetables before juicing. In addition to their unique freshness, the beets, will give this cocktail a stunning scarlet hue. If you don’t have access to a juicer at home, you can sample the “We Got The Beat” at Bourbon Steak located inside the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown. For more information on upcoming seminars being hosted by the Museum of the American Cocktail, please visit

We Got The Beet

1.5 ounces Partido reposado tequila .5 ounce beet juice .5 ounces Agave nectar .5 ounce Averna .5 Ounce lime juice. Salt Salt half the rim of your cocktail glass. Mix four ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake.Strain intoglass.

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