The cutting edge of any movement, from cuisine to art to science, explores ideas that no one else is even thinking is a possibility. They find combinations of elements or obscure theories that are not mainstream. Over time, and by showing their peers that what they have is a good idea, those creative leaps become mainstream. The person who first paired cantaloupe and tequila probably had a bit of an uphill climb when they first started sharing it. Watermelon in cocktails? Sure, that has been well-known for a while. But other melons? That will take a little more convincing.
It turns out that sweet cantaloupe and spicy tequila make a delicious match. Cantaloupe margaritas have been around for a few year, but that was a baby step for this combo. Of course, one of Houston's top mixologists, Bobby Heugel, would be the one to help push this combo further into the public spotlight. Heugel has been a driving force behind the booming cocktail scene in Houston. One of his latest bars, The Pastry War, was named after the first of many French and Mexican conflicts. They focus on artisan tequilas and mezcals only from distilleries that the owners have visited. The cocktail explored today, the Bala de Canon ("cannonball" or "cannon shot" in Spanish) was featured on Saveur in August, but I discovered it in the September/October 2015 issue of Imbibe. It dives deep into the roots of all things Mexican for its flavors.
Bala de Canon (by Bobby Heugel, The Pastry War)
2 oz./ 60 mL blanco tequila (Tequila Cabeza is recommended)
1 oz./ 30 mL cantaloupe puree
.5 oz./ 15 mL agave nectar
.25 oz./ 8 mL fresh lemon juice
Garnish: Melon balls dusted with chia seeds (seeds are optional)
Ice: Small cubes
Pour all of the ingredients into a mixing tin. Add ice, then shake until well chilled. Strain over fresh ice into the rocks glass. Add melon balls, then dust with seeds and serve.
To make the cantaloupe puree, skin and chop up a cantaloupe. Place the flesh and the seeds into a blended and blend until liquid. Strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth.
This was thoroughly worth the work. The lightness and freshness of the cantaloupe is an amazing match with the tequila. The reposado I used was brilliant, but most likely blended the flavor of the tequila more into the background. Very smooth, not too sweet, and an inspiration for me to create other purees and experiment with cantaloupe in other cocktails.