Pineapples always remind Yoid Gomez of home. Born in Havana, Cuba, Gomez uses his nostalgia for the tropical fruits native to his home country as inspiration for his current job as bar manager at La Loma, the venerable Jefferson Park eatery that will soon move to new digs downtown. Even though La Loma is a Mexican restaurant, Gomez spun the classic Margarita recipe into a Cuban-inspired cocktail, a pineapple Margarita ($11) that combines the essence of Mexico — complete with diced jalapeños — with his memories of Cuba.
Here’s how he made his Cuban-inspired Margarita:
2 ounces barrel-aged Don Julio reposado tequila
2 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce agave nectar
1 ounce lime juice
5 or 6 jalapeño slices
Gomez first came up with his cocktail recipe to enjoy at home, but then decided to introduce it at La Loma, where it has become a hit. The restaurant already had a longtime relationship with Don Julio tequila, serving a version of a Margarita called the Cadillac for the past thirty years. Eventually, La Loma secured a sixty-gallon oak barrel of Don Julio reposado tequila, which now hangs from the ceiling of the restaurant. The barrel arrived at the restaurant filled with tequila that had been aging for six months, but La Loma let it rest for an additional two months, bringing out additional hints of caramel and vanilla.
“We just always wanted to have a big barrel of tequila, so we talked to Don Julio and they provided the barrel,” Gomez says. As the tequila is drained from the wood, Gomez tops off the barrel with more so that the flavors of aged and new spirits mingle into a complex blend.
Gomez mixes that Don Julio blend with agave nectar, fresh-squeezed lime juice, pineapple juice and a few slices of jalapeño. After adding ice and shaking vigorously, he strains it into a tall glass filled with ice, garnishing the drink with a fresh slice of pineapple.
“It’s very refreshing for the summertime,” he says of his Cuban version of a Mexican drink. “It’s sweet, with a little bit of spice.”
Gomez recommends pairing his cocktail with La Loma’s mesquite-grilled shrimp ($18) marinated in tropical spices and smothered in melted cheese and enchilada sauce.