Taco Recipes & Vodka Cocktails: Perfect Pairings

National Taco Day and National Vodka Day collide to inspire one amazing dinner party menu.

National Taco Day (October 4) is upon us once again and it’s time to celebrate the only way we know how: with good food and good drink. But, to put an unexpected twist on things, it also happens to be National Vodka Day as well. So this year mix things up with a few festive taco recipes from Chef Julieta Ballesteros of Manhattan’s own Taqueria Los Feliz. Give that tired bottle of tequila a rest and whip up these refreshing vodka-inspired cocktails instead. You never know what you’ll discover! Olé!

Tacos de Nopales con Chorizo (4 servings)

Ingredients:1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

4 tablespoons black beans4 oz. chorizo (Mexican sausage)2 cactus leaves; cleaned, grilled, and chopped

2 beaten eggs4 oz. Chihuahua cheese (or Monterey Jack cheese)4 corn tortillas (6 inches)1/4 bunch cilantro leaves, cleaned and chopped1 fresh jalapeño, chopped

Directions: In a nonstick pan heat the butter. Add onions, beans, chorizo, and cactus and cook for 5 minutes. Fold in cheese and eggs. Heat tortillas. Place cactus mix in warm tortilla and top with fresh cilantro and jalapeño pepper.

Pairs perfectly with The Mexican Martini

Ingredients:1/2 cup ice1.5 oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka1.5 oz orange liqueur1.5 oz freshly squeezed lime juice1.5 oz freshly squeezed orange juice1.5 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions: Combine all ingredients in shaker, shake firmly, and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with 3 pimento-stuffed green olives (optional).

Tacos de Callo de Hacha (4 servings)

Ingredients:1/2 cup mango salsa*1/2 cup salsa negra**8-10 oz. baby scallops

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4 corn tortillas (6 inches)1/2 cup guacamole

*For mango salsa:1 mango (not too ripe), chopped1/4 cup chopped red onion1/4 bunch cilantro2 tablespoons agave nectar2 tablespoons fresh lime juiceSalt and pepper to taste

**For salsa negra:1/2 cup soy oil1/2 Spanish onion, chopped4 garlic cloves6-7 morita chiles (dry chipotles)1 plum tomato, chopped4-6 oz. of piloncillo (Mexican sugarcane)Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Combine all ingredients needed for the mango salsa in one bowl and chill. To make the salsa negra heat oil in saucepan, add onion, garlic, piloncillo, chiles, and tomato until dark brown but do not let burn. Set to cool and then blend on high speed to make an emulsion. Adjust seasoning as needed. Sauté the scallops with salsa negra. Heat tortillas. Place scallops and salsa negra in tortillas. Add guacamole and top with mango salsa.

Pairs perfectly with The Texas Mule (Created by Rob Pate of Peche in Austin, TX)

2 oz. Tito's Handmade Vodka2 jalapeño slices in a glassGinger beer

Directions: Muddle jalapeño slices in a glass. Add ice to glass. Add Tito's Handmade Vodka. Top with ginger beer.

Tacos de Hongos a la Diabla (4 servings)

Ingredients:2 tablespoons butter

1/2 Spanish onion, chopped1 garlic clove, minced1/2 cup oil2 cups Cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced3 chipotle chiles, pureed

Salt and pepper to taste1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped

4 corn tortillas (6 inches)

4-5 oz. queso blanco, cut into 1/2-inch by 4-inch strips

Salsa verde

Directions: In a sauté pan add butter, onion, and garlic. Sauté until golden brown then add mushrooms and chipotle purée. Cook for 7 minutes or until juices reduce. Add salt and pepper to taste and cilantro. In a frying pan heat the oil until hot. Add strips of cheese and cook for 4 minutes or until crispy, turning once halfway through. Heat the tortillas. Place mushroom mixture in tortilla and top with cheese. Serve with salsa verde.

Pairs perfectly with The Tito Mojito (From the Four Seasons in Austin, TX)

Ingredients:2 oz. Tito’s Handmade VodkaBlackberriesBasilSimple syrup

Club soda

Candied ginger

Directions: Muddle blackberries and basil in glass. Add ice, vodka, and simple syrup. Fill with club soda. Garnish with candied ginger.