More than a few craft bartenders I know have a certain disdain for shots. It doesn't matter whether it's a mixed drink with an X-rated name or the bottle of the moment. They sniff that shots are vulgar, more suited to the realm of nightclubs and frat parties than Serious Cocktail Bars. Shots disappear in seconds, while Real Cocktails should be savored and appreciated.
Then you procure a tray of Fernet Branca shots, and your mixologist friends circle like fish in heat. Go figure.
Industry friends, someone ordering a round of shots is something to appreciate, at least once you get past the inevitable "WOOOOO!" that accompanies it. It's not often you can knock out half a dozen drinks or more with such minimal effort. I don't need to lead you through making a Pink Pussy or a Redheaded Slut; you've made enough of them. And let's be honest, anyone ordering those doesn't care worth a damn how the drink tastes.
That leaves us with straight shooters. While Fernet Branca is a cult classic among bartenders, it's (to say the least) an acquired taste for average Americans. Fireball caught on like wildfire, but it's wearing out its welcome like an overplayed pop song. Patrón tequila is popular, but I've never been a fan; it doesn't taste enough like tequila to suit my taste buds or wallet.
Ah, tequila, the default spirit when nobody can decide on a specific shot. Cuervo? No quiero tequila mixto, gracias. Patrón? You already know how I feel. And if we're at someone's home . . . What do you mean we're out of limes?
Enter Hornitos Tequila. Someone there had the idea to take a 100 percent agave silver tequila, and add a dash of lime flavoring and a pinch of salt. They made it part of their mid-tier Hornitos brand (my personal favorite, an outstanding tequila for the price) , and dubbed it Lime Shot. Admittedly, I get a little nervous when I see lime involved in bottled booze. All too often it comes across fake, either like lime hard candy, or like cheap powdered limeade (Bud Light Lime, I'm looking at you).
Hornitos was wise with Lime Shot and let the tequila take center stage. The lime provides accent, tasting more like a good twist than a full-on squeeze. You get a little salt right at the beginning of the shot, but it fades before it wears out its welcome and starts tasting like seawater.
Suffice to say, I'm a fan of Lime Shot. But what's the best way to have one? I first tried it chilled with ice, but it was pretty weak. Next was a shot from a room-temperature bottle. It was better than the chilled, but it tasted like all tequila, no lime.
Finally, I stuck the bottle in the freezer. Eureka! Everything tasted round and balanced, with a pleasant lingering lime finish. The price is right too; at well under twenty bucks, I've certainly had worse spirits that cost a lot more.
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All I can say now is if you're on the fence, go ahead and give Lime Shot a shot (or two). I think you'll be glad you did.
Note: This post has been edited from its original version.