Blanco Tequila is shaken with squeezed grapefruit juice and pressed pineapple juice, sweetened with homemade vanilla syrup and finished with three dashes of Angostura bitters, served over cubed ice served in a rocks glass. This is a wonderful contemporary drink that is perfect for a summer party. Even that friend who claims they hate tequila will like the Buena Vida.
Tequila, Grapefruit Juice, Pineapple Juice, Vanilla Syrup, Bitters.
*premium glassware pictured, event glassware may differ.
The Buena Vida is a modern classic, combining the sharp sweetness of blanco tequila with the tropical fruity flavours of pineapple and grapefruit, this is a great drink to feature at your bar hire if your hoping to convert tequila haters to agave aficionados.
Tequila is a great spirit but it gets a bad rep, up until recently it was hard to get hold of good tequila made from 100% agave, a lot of what was available, was what are known as ‘mixtos’, a mixture of tequila and grain alcohol. Nowadays though, premium tequila is more accessible than ever and there are loads of great drinks that help champion this Mexican spirit.
The Buena Vida is a great inclusion on a tequila menu as it is a little less sharp and boozy than a lot of tequila classics. If you want to serve some more archetypal tequila drinks alongside it you might want to consider a classic Margarita or a Paloma: a zingy tequila drink featuring fresh grapefruit and apricot brandy served short on the rocks.
This cocktail works great as part of a tiki menu, the tropical flavours of pineapple and grapefruit match well with the exotic fruity cocktails indicative of tiki culture, but the use of tequila rather than rum, sets the Buena Vida apart from other tiki drinks and makes it a great cocktail to add some variety to a tiki based selection.
Tequila is a strong favourite amongst bartenders and seasoned drinkers but for those guests who prefer a lighter spirit or a lower alcohol drink you may want to include some beers on your menu, or a fruity, vodka-based cocktail like the Pineapple smash; this julep style drink features pineapple, rosemary and lemon and as with a lot of vodka drinks, doesn’t taste very alcoholic, perfect for guests who like a milder cocktail.
If you’re planning on including the Buena Vida on your cocktail menu and want to know more about what drinks might be good to serve alongside it be sure to speak to your event organiser about your options, or check out some other tequila-based, fruity and summery cocktails from our list.
There’s not much of a story surrounding this recent addition to the cocktail canon.
The Buena Vida appears in Difford’s Guide where it’s listed as being, “adapted from a drink created in 2011 by Lee Clinton.” Nothing else is said on the mysterious Mr. Clinton, or his clandestine cocktail which may or may not have been called a Buena Vida.
It seems then, that this drink was created by the man himself, Simon Difford, though certainly with at least a little help. The drink most closely resembles a marriage between two well known tequila classics; the Paloma and the Matador, a Paloma being a sort of grapefruit Margarita and the matador being it’s pineapple equivalent. The combination of these two fruity concoctions creates a drink that has both the tropical flavour of a tiki cocktail and the sharp tanginess of a tequila drink.
Myths & Legends
With its sparse and uneventful history, there isn’t much intrigue surrounding the Buena Vida, but its base liquor, tequila, has been the subject of many myths and misconceptions.
Tequila has an Appellation of Origin which means it must come from one of a group of specific areas in Mexico for it to be called tequila. This, coupled with the fact that agave plants take at least 12 years to mature, gave rise to the popularity of ‘mixto’ tequilas. By combining their 100% agave tequila with cheaper spirits distilled from sugar or grain, producers were able to sell higher volumes at a cheaper price.
When buying tequila always look for a note on the label which says ‘100% blue agave’ or 100% de agave’, if you stick to this rule you’ll always end up with a smooth and authentic tasting tequila.
The Buena Vida recipe is featured on a few websites as well as in Difford’s Guide.
There isn’t much information on this cocktail and Difford’s had very little to say on its origin:
“Adapted from a drink created in 2011 by Lee Clinton.”
- Simon Difford, Difford’s Guide, p.144
Tequila has come leaps and bounds since the early days of mixology and this is illustrated no better than by David A. Embury’s rather inflammatory opinions on this liquor:
“With me it could never replace even an unaged gin, although it might, perhaps, be called comparable to bathtub gin. However, I did find one brand—Cuervo (pronounced kwair’-voh)—from which the unpleasant odor above mentioned seemed almost completely absent. In a pinch it might be used in a cocktail. In general, however, the only liquor I have ever tasted that I regard as worse than tequila is slivovitz.”
- David A. Embury, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, p.74
Thankfully the quality and availability of tequila has greatly improved since the 1950s and whilst hilariously worded, Embury’s evaluation doesn’t really apply to modern tequila.
Ingredients & Equipment
As with any tequila based cocktail we recommend using a 100% agave tequila for the Buena Vida. Many lower quality tequilas are what are known as ‘mixtos’, this means they are a mixture of tequila and cheaper alcohol with added sugar. Mixtos often have a harsh, alcoholic aftertaste and can have an adverse effect on the flavour of your drink. However, this doesn’t mean you need to buy the best tequila available, as with most mixed drinks, a mid range spirit will be fine for your cocktail.
Tequila comes in 3 main varieties: Blanco, or white, which is unaged and often bottled right after being distilled; Reposado, or rested, which has been aged in a wooden barrel anywhere between 2 and 11 months; and Anejo, or aged, which has been aged for anywhere between 1 and 3 years. The ageing process adds rich woody flavours and complex sweetness to the tequila as well as increasing its production cost and final price, as a result, Reposado, and especially Anejo tequilas, are generally reserved to be drunk on their own or with ice. Reposado tequila is good in cocktails but Blanco tequila has a sharp citrusy flavour which is fine for use in most drinks and works well with fruity ingredients.
We recommend using El Jimador Blanco for our Buena Vida, this tequila is made from 100% blue agave and has a sweet, citrusy bite with a mellow, honey finish, it pairs brilliantly with the sharp grapefruit and the sugary pineapple in this cocktail.
50ml Blanco Tequila
25ml Pink Grapefruit juice
25ml Pineapple Juice
12.5ml Vanilla syrup
2-3 Dashes of Angostura bitters
Pineapple Wedge and Mint Sprig to Garnish
- Take your Boston glass or small tin
- Using your jigger to measure, add the tequila, pineapple juice, grapefruit juice and syrup to the shaker
- Add 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
- Fill shaker with cubed ice and seal
- Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds or until your tin is very cold
- Fill your rocks glass with fresh cubed ice
- Using your Hawthorne strainer, strain your cocktail into the rocks glass
- Garnish with a pineapple wedge and mint sprig
- Serve and enjoy!
For larger groups of six or more students, we offer the option to take things private. Our classes are fully portable, and we are able to set ourselves up efficiently and professionally in a wide variety of locations and settings across the capital, the UK, and beyond. You name the location, and we’ll endeavour to make it happen.
Give one of our dedicated event organisers a call on 020 8003 7982. They’ll happily talk you through your options, and answer any questions you may have about both our mobile and in-house cocktail making classes.