Category: Agave (Tequila, Mezcal, Sotol, etc.)
Restaurant: Il Gattopardo, New York City
Creator: Renata Yamlihanova
Inspiration: The rich, volcanic terrain of Mount Etna on Sicily that also inspires the cuisine of executive chef Vito Gnazzo. Il Gattopardo is inspired by the book and film of that name, which is the story of Don Fabrizio Corbera, prince of Salina, an island north of Sicily.
Key Ingredients: Añejo tequila, Amaro Segesta di Sicilia, a pepperoncino infusion and Sicilian blood oranges, garnished with blood orange peel and served in a glass lined with black volcanic Sicilian sea salt
What the Judges Said: It’s hard to improve on a classic Margarita, but you’d better if you’re going to charge $18 for it, even in notoriously pricey New York City. Yamlihanova did that by taking each element — tequila, citrus and salt — and massaging it a bit. Normally an aged tequila is a bad move in a Margarita, but in this case it adds a smoky depth that, along with the spicy pepperoncino and bitter amaro, lends a new and welcome dimension to this drink.