It is possible—better than possible, easy—to make truly delicious, not-at-all weird cocktails with yogurt.
I’ll take you there, but if you can’t get on board with the previous sentence, best to stop reading now. The only thing I can further offer to pique your curiosity is that you don’t have to take our word for it. We’ve got one of the best bars on the planet to back us up.
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Yogurt hit the cocktail world with a splat (sorry) in 2013. There were some forward-thinking bartenders experimenting with the ingredient before that, but it wasn’t until the Dutch liqueur maker Bols debuted their “Natural Yogurt Liqueur” that the idea of it went wide. Some people took the new liqueur seriously. Other people, not so much. It made waves among those of us who pay special attention to emergent cocktail trends, but most regular people either never heard of it, or couldn’t get past the mental hurdle. There were a few trend pieces in the subsequent years—about how well it works with fruit, about how it brings a welcome tanginess to the finish, about how it sounds weird but is just a lighter form of milk or cream with a tart edge—but except for the really top level cocktail bars, pretty much everyone else just let it slide away.
Jigger & Pony, in Singapore, is one of those top-level cocktail bars. Singapore is, in fact, known as the Cocktail Capital of Asia, the most awarded city on the World’s 50 Best Bars list in both 2021 and 2022 (and barely got edged out by London in 2023, 8 entries to 9), and according to this year’s list, Jigger and Pony is the 14th best bar in the world. And while southeast Asia might seem a strange place to find a yogurt stronghold, in cocktails, we go where the flavor is.
On their current menu, Jigger & Pony has a take on a classic Tequila cocktail called a Toreador. The Toreador is tequila, apricot liqueur, and lime juice, and is among the first tequila cocktails ever printed in the English language, in William J. Tarling’s Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, in 1937. It’s essentially a Margarita with apricot instead of orange, and it’s justifiably overshadowed by its orangey sister because the apricot speaks a little too loudly in a classic Toreador—the boldness of the fruit too brash on the midpalate. But Jigger & Pony correctly saw that a little yogurt could solve that problem perfectly.
The result is the White Toreador, first put out by the bar in 2019, and updated with more modern techniques on the current menu now. What the yogurt is doing here is absorbing some of the sweetness and tempering both the intensity of the apricot and the raw vegetal quality of the tequila. Cream or milk would do that as well, but the yogurt smoothes out the peaks and valleys, and then give it all a lightly tart, tangy finish. The apricot still occupies most of the midpalate but now its accented by the greenness of the tequila and the depth of the yogurt and finishes with all the notes dancing in perfect harmony. It really is exceptional.
Jigger & Pony’s updated version of this drink uses a couple techniques require special orders and a bit of planning (the bars on the 50 Best list tend to get baroque behind the scenes). It’s not difficult exactly, it’s just inconvenient if you’re reading this and want one right now. Below is a version of the recipe adapted for ease of home creation, and then underneath that that I’ll detail how Jigger & Pony do it. It might be worth getting the stuff on Amazon. It might even be worth booking a ticket to Singapore. You’d be surprised what a little yogurt is capable of.
Adapted from Jigger & Pony, Singapore (unabridged recipe below)
1.5 oz. blanco tequila
0.5 oz. lime juice
0.5 oz. apricot liqueur
0.5 oz. simple syrup
1 egg white
1 tsp full fat greek yogurt
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake briefly without ice to whip the egg Add ice and shake hard for 10 to 12 seconds. Strain up into a cocktail glass. No garnish.
NOTES ON INGREDIENTS
Blanco Tequila: Make sure to keep to blanco tequila, and to make it 100 percent agave. As for brands, I’d grab the budget side of tequila—too much earth or complexity from the more expensive sipping tequilas can distract or weigh on the nose, even if the palate is still great. Value brands like Cimarron, Olmeca Altos, and Real del Valle would be perfect.
Jigger & Pony takes this a step further and “washes” their tequila with full-fat greek yogurt, which means combines them (55 g yogurt to a 750 ml bottle), then throws it in the freezer for a day and filters it all with a coffee filter. This is delicious, adding lovely body and richness while avoiding a white-out milkiness of the yogurt, but not, strictly, necessary. It’s plenty good just adding it like I do above.
Apricot Liqueur: There’s a bunch of good ones here. Giffard Abricot du Roussillon is my favorite, followed by Merlet and Rothman & Winter. Also worth noting is that Luxardo makes an apricot liqueur that I’ve somehow never tried, though as a general statement they tend to put out fantastic products.
Simple Syrup: Equal parts, sugar and water, and stir until the sugar dissolves.
The other twist Jigger & Pony make to this cocktail is to use a “Yogurt Syrup,” which they make by combining simple syrup with freeze-dried yogurt powder with 2:1 simple syrup (35 g yogurt powder, 350 g water, 700 g sugar, blended together). This is an ingenious move, a stable, consistent, subtle way to add that distinctive yogurt twang to the finish while avoiding the messiness and volume of actual yogurt, and this plus the “yogurt washed” tequila is how they achieve their effect. Again, it’s very tasty to just use actual yogurt, but I’ll say I didn’t know about this little trick before, and I’ll be keeping yogurt powder on hand in the future for further exploration.
Egg White: Not strictly speaking necessary, but it helps bind the flavors together.
Yogurt: Bols has discontinued their Yogurt Liqueur, so you’ll need to shop the refrigerator. I tried this with Kefir (very aggressive), I tried it with fat-free Greek Yogurt (chalky and a touch austere), I even tried it with Raspberry Yoplait (surprisingly good!), but the best here is a standard, full-fat Greek Yogurt. You can use as little as a teaspoon or as much as a tablespoon. I wouldn’t recommend much over that, though, lest the tanginess get too loud.
White Toreador (Jigger & Pony)
15 ml Codigo 1530 Blanco
25 ml Yogurt Tequila (see above)
10 ml Merlet Apricot
15 ml yogurt syrup (see above)
15 ml lime juice
20 ml egg white
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