I am not, generally, an at-home bartender. I love a $15 cocktail as much as the next fancy bitch, but rarely will I try to recreate anything with more than two ingredients in my own kitchen because it’ll never taste as good as when it’s left in the hands of professionals. . A good drink just tastes better in a great bar with dim lighting and an eclectic crowd.
At home, as I sit in full trash-panda mode with no awareness of when I last wore actual pants or brushed my hair, fussy cocktails feel completely out of place. It’s very impressive that some people are using this time to make homemade shrubs or perfect their herb-infused tequilas, but I refuse to use this time for self-improvement. While worrying endlessly about the constant swirl of chaos and bad news, I’m turning to my favorite comfort cocktail, the Squirtarita.
I didn’t invent the Squirtarita. It is technically a simplified version of the classic Paloma, a combination of grapefruit, soda, fresh lime juice, and tequila. But the Squirtarita does not require juicing any limes or figuring out where in the depths of your cabinets a jigger might be. All you’ll need is a bottle of the fizzy, citrusy soda Squirt—preferably the version imported from Mexico in a glass bottle, but the regular-degular U.S. kind is fine too—and some passable tequila. Pour all of the above over ice in the heirloom plastic Dallas Cowboys cup you got from a Dairy Queen in 1999, and drink until you forget that Donald Trump is the person that is in charge of getting Americans through the coronavirus pandemic.
Invented in 1938 by a man named Herb Bishop in Phoenix, AZ, Squirt is a grapefruit-flavored soda that’s a favorite in the hotter regions of the country. It’s a perfectly refreshing beverage for hot summer days, and in the 1960s, was marketed as a cocktail mixer for “grown up tastes.” “Squirt’s a fine, dry cooler that fixes your thirst, with never an after-thirst,” a 1962 advertisement for the soda proclaims. “It’s a quality mixer that sparkles your drinks and never dulls drink flavors.” Also during the ‘60s, the brand advertised recipes for cocktails like the Squadka (Squirt and vodka) and the Squiskey, which is, you guessed it, a combination of Squirt and bourbon or rye whiskey.
And sure, Squirt tastes great mixed with pretty much any spirit, but tequila truly gives it an opportunity to shine. The citrus bolsters the tequila’s dulcet agave notes, and in turn, the tequila’s sweetness balances the soda’s dry flavor and carbonated sharpness. It’s a true match made in heaven, one that’s perfect in these times of unbalance and uncertainty. It’s also impossible to fuck up, and won’t make you feel bad about yourself if you have to tweak the recipe.
While everyone’s baking sourdough and riding Peloton bikes, I’ll be screaming into the existential void and drinking Squirtaritas. It feels really hard to be alive right now, and there’s no sense in making myself miserable trying to mix up a daiquiri with the same expertise of my favorite bartender. I am no mixologist, and I don’t want to be. I want to pine for my favorite cocktail bars while drinking a cocktail that would never appear on their menus. I want simplicity, I want ease, I want Squirtaritas.
There are, certainly, ways to zhuzh up a Squirtarita. You could add a little bit of fresh grapefruit juice for Vitamin C and a punch of bitterness, or mix in a little fresh fruit puree. But I implore you to resist those urges and indulge in the sweet, sharp simplicity of the Squirtarita as-is. There is too much going on in the world right now to waste time fretting over whether or not your cheap-ass cocktail is as aesthetically pleasing or flavor-balanced as Instagram expects it to be.