From high school through my early 20s, I played in a men's baseball league, a league we affectionately called the "Mexican League." My best friend growing up was Mexican, and he'd pick me up every Sunday to play ball down in Wimauma. The two of us often joked that the ML was a professional league, but truthfully, we were mostly paid in fast-food burgers and cervezas, which was fine with me.
Most weeks, there'd be a guy on foot walking around with a small two-wheel cart selling frozen fruit pops and chopped fruit. Of course, those were Florida summer Sundays, crazy hot, so you couldn't beat chilled popsicles and fruit. For each fruit cup, he'd ask if you wanted any chili seasoning. It was kind of strange to me at first, but that seasoning transformed your typical fruit medley into something sweet and spicy — and entirely different.
My cocktail inspiration this week has come from the beloved baseball treats, whose stand-out ingredient was always mango. There was just something about it that worked so well with the spicy sprinkles. Taking the flavors of mango and heat a step further, we're slapping the fruit on the grill to incorporate some smokiness into our drink, plus intensify its honey sweetness.
So, yes, you're gonna put in a little work for this bourbon cocktail, but it's worth the effort. And if you're lighting a fire for summer barbecuing anyway, why not throw a few mangoes on there? Those without a grill can stick the fruit under a broiler for a few minutes, too. The spicy, sweet appeal of the Mango Whiskey Tango endures.
Mango Whiskey Tango
2 ripe mangoes, pitted and halved
1 lime, halved
1 tablespoon ancho chili seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat grill to medium heat. Drizzle mangoes with olive oil and place, flesh side down, onto grill. Let sit until grill marks are achieved, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Squeeze lime over top and sprinkle with seasoning and salt. (These mangoes should be enough for 4 cocktails.)
Half of 1 grilled mango, flesh removed
2 ounces bourbon (we used Bulleit)
Splash of club soda or tonic
In a cocktail shaker, add mango and muddle until pulverized. Add bourbon and fill shaker two-thirds with ice. Shake until well-chilled. Add club soda and stir gently (as to not lose your fizz). Double strain — through a cocktail strainer, then a fine-mesh strainer — into a rocks glass filled with ice (you might have to help the drink through with a spoon). Garnish with a lime wedge.