I don't drink, but George Clooney almost made me want to raise a glass. As I was taking a fitness walk on a busy street, it appeared as though movie star Clooney and bar owner/former model and supermodel Cindy Crawford's longtime husband Rande Gerber were riding toward me through a field in aviator sunglasses on sleek motorcycles.
Then I realized that the larger-than-life image was just the side of a truck on which they were also telling me, "Our casa is your casa." Usually, this welcoming phrase about a house is said fully in Spanish, but this time it was an advertisement for the pair's Casamigos tequila, which was being delivered to a local bistro. I also noticed the back of the truck had a bevy of "WINNER" accolades within wreaths just like ones often seen on newspaper advertisements regarding movies that have won awards at film festivals. These honors were for the tequila.
Casamigos, an ultra-premium tequila that emerged from private reserves favored by friends Clooney and Gerber, is a company founded by the two and Mike Meldman in 2013 and sold for $700 million in 2017 to Diageo, with up to $300 million more pending based on performance.
Clooney and Gerber are still front and center. They are spinning along on those bikes in the video that opens the brand's website, along with the slogan, "Brought to you by those who drink it" and closing with "Welcome to the family." "House of Friends" is a part of the website that shows Casamigos, Gerber, Crawford and Clooney at various movie and television premiere and cast parties.
All of this was enough to inspire me to raise not a glass but a measuring cup and look into including ultrapremium tequila in my cooking. It is best paired in dishes and with ingredients that allow the flavor of the tequila to stand out or compatibly blend in.
A fun tequila tasting might be in order first, since flavors range from strong to smooth and subtle. Tequila takes on the flavor of the wood of the casks it is aged in, while the flavor of the alcohol softens. All ingredients that follow are to taste. As a reminder, when tequila is used in uncooked dishes, alcohol strength remains but the amount of tequila is divided among servings; in cooked dishes, alcohol strength often gets reduced.
SALAD THAT SINGS
As a salad dressing, combine one part extra virgin olive oil to one-quarter part balsamic vinegar and one-eighth part tequila and whisk with diced cilantro, freshly ground black pepper, dried oregano and dried cumin. Drizzle it on a salad of spinach, tomatoes, watermelon, blueberries, and peeled and sliced jicama.
ZUCCHINI WITH ZING
After zucchini is sauteed and resting in a serving bowl, drizzle with tequila and toss with chili powder, minced garlic and minced red onion and serve over cooked brown rice.
PASTA WITH PIZZAZZ
After pasta sauce is heated and removed from the stovetop, stir in tequila, chopped mushrooms and sliced, pitted black olives. Serve over cooked pasta and cooked sliced Italian sausage.
BUTTERSCOTCH THAT'S BETTER
To warmed butterscotch sauce after it's been removed from the stovetop, stir in tequila and red pepper flakes and serve drizzled over vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." To find out more about Lisa Messinger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.