Making Spirits Bright

Take Off the Chill with a Seasonal Cocktail from Sage

Master mixologist Cliseria Padilla-Flores shares what inspires her and a recipe for boozy champurrado, a Mexican hot chocolate.

By Sarafina Murphy-Gibson December 22, 2020

Cliseria Padilla-Flores

Cliseria Padilla-Flores

At family events and social parties, it always fell to Cliseria Padilla-Flores to make the drinks. She’d eye the leftover juice, the spice rack and the liquor cabinet for a moment before devising a delicious concoction on the spot. Now, in her job as chief mixologist at Sage, she’s free to explore her cocktail creativity and act upon her naturally hospitable nature. “Folks come into the bar at the end of a long day and I get to take care of them, by making surprising treats that help them relax and unwind,” she says.

With roots in Aguascalientes, Mexico, Padillo-Flores is highly influenced by her mother’s home cooking and traditional Mexican flavors. She’s imagined cocktails using horchata—sweet rice milk flavored with cinnamon—and even mole sauce. While she’s currently experimenting with a spicy guajillo tincture for a complex earthy flavor, she’s always been partial to sweet hibiscus.

Partnering with Sage's beverage director David Tlaiye, Padillo-Flores has dreamed up a collection of seasonal libations to warm your body and spirit. The Masa Dulce is for those who like it hot, blending creyente mezcal with flavors of sweet tamal, house-made tejuino, guajillo and serrano peppers. Reminiscent of a fig sherry cobbler, the Fig-Aro is crafted with Pedro Ximénez, balsamic vinegar and a clove and fig shrub. Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the caramel popcorn that comes alongside the Circus Freak, a buttery take on a rye whiskey old fashioned.

Feeling inspired to make your own toasty beverage? Padillo-Flores shares a tipsy take on a classic family favorite.

Cliseria Padilla-Flores' Oaxaca Cocoa

Cliseria Padilla-Flores' Oaxaca Cocoa

Oaxaca Cocoa

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Makes one drink.

Begin by preparing your champurrado, a thick traditional Mexican hot chocolate drink. Using Abuelita chocolate, dissolve one tablet over heat into four cups of milk or, as Padilla-Flores prefers, almond milk. Add the signature spice by simmering with cinnamon sticks, cloves and a pinch of cayenne pepper. To sweeten use classic sugar or piloncillo, pure raw cane sugar with a molasses-like taste.

In a hot toddy glass, measure:

.5 oz. yellow chartreuse

1.5 oz. mescal of choice

Fill glass with steaming champurrado, top with marshmallows and get warmed up!

Pro tip: Try making marshmallows using green chartreuse to add to herby notes down to the last drop.

Sage SRQ is located at 1216 1st St. Hours of operation are Tuesday to Thursday, 5 p.m.-10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Reservations recommended.

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