What I’m Drinking Now: Kira Collings and the Tijuana Handshake

Kira Collings is bar manager of Hearth and Hill in Park City, UT.

Traveling has always been a passion of mine. For my first solo adventure, at the age of 19, I booked a one-way ticket to Thailand. I spent two months exploring the “land of smiles” and immersing myself in the country’s beautiful surroundings. I felt so welcomed by the people and was mesmerized by the culture and food.

After long, hot days of riding motorbikes, exploring temples and eating copious amounts of spicy curry, I would search for a street cart selling these unique watermelon smoothies. They were made with fresh watermelon, pureed with ice, lime, cream and what always seemed like a secret ingredient that I could never figure out. 

As I started brainstorming cocktails for our menu at Hearth and Hill, the thirst-quenching Thai watermelon smoothies were the first thing that crossed my mind. I wanted to bring a little bit of my travels back to Utah and supply our guests with a uniquely refreshing summer drink. 

I started by building a house-made watermelon cordial with a Thai basil simple syrup and a lemongrass tincture. I wanted the cocktail to have crowd appeal, so I decided on tequila as the spirit.

That led me to drop the lemongrass and swap it for chipotle bitters to complement the tequila. Then to add a pop of color, I garnish it with Mexico’s national flower — dahlias — thus the Tijuana Handshake was born.

This cocktail is light and refreshing at first sip, then you pick up notes of Thai basil mixing with the agave from the tequila, finishing with the fire of the chipotle bitters in the back of your throat.  


Tijuana Handshake

Course Drinks
Keyword lime, tequila, watermelon


1 ½ oz. El Jimador reposado tequila½ oz. El Jimador silver tequila½ oz. Fresh lime juice2 oz. House-made watermelon cordial5 dashes Chipotle bitters


Combine all ingredients and shake to chill.
Strain over a large ice cube to minimize dilution.
Garnish with a lime and a dahlia.


For Watermelon cordial: 1 medium-sized watermelon, 1 quart of Thai basil simple syrup, 3 bar spoons of citric acid, 1 oz. grenadine (for color).
Cut watermelon and puree it in a blender. Then strain the watermelon puree. Stir in basil simple syrup, 3 bar spoons of citric acid, grenadine and stir it all together. Will keep it for up to 10 days in the refrigerator.

Looking for more What I’m Drinking Now? Check out Ilya Romanov and the Small Talk, Kira Webster and the Quiet Night ThoughtJeff Rogers and the Original House Martini, Roberto Colombi and the Marche Bianco “Coccio” 2018, and Matt Hungerford and the Golden Pineapple, among others.

The post What I’m Drinking Now: Kira Collings and the Tijuana Handshake first appeared on Cheers.

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