It’s cool and delicious.
When you think of Erik Estrada, you probably picture a well-muscled TV star riding a motorcycle down the highways of Los Angeles, patrolling for crime and saving the day. As Officer Frank “Ponch” Poncherello on the ’70s show CHiPs, he knew how to catch criminals on high-speed chases and protect the innocent without drawing his gun. Today, he is being celebrated in cocktail form as an original beverage that bears his name. The beautifully balanced drink is a perfect mix of cool and hot, which is exactly what led co-owner/operator Jamie Bernal to name if after Estrada. “The guys dug him ’cause he’s cool and then to the ladies, he’s hot. It just popped in my head. I was like, ‘What’s cool and what’s hot?’ Officer Poncharello.”
Bernal describes the cocktail as essentially a traditional cucumber margarita but notes that three specific things set it apart: the fresh ingredients, the fact that it is served with a choice of either tequila reposado or mezcal, and the addition of habanero bitters. “Habanero bitters in particular are a little bit special because they have this smokiness,” he said. “It’s not just the spice that you get from a fresh jalapeño. It’s almost like it’s rougher than that. It has that earthy deepness.” Mixed with the cucumber and citrus, the bitters bring out a flavor that is as bright as it is smoky.
When asked why The Erik Estrada is perfect for summer, Bernal said without pause, “It’s cool as a cucumber. You know, it’s hot and you want to cool off.” But it’s not only awesome for sweltering afternoons. Customers ask for it all year long. Said Bernal, “We’ve had this for a while, but it’s always a favorite. People come back for it.”
Room 389, 389 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-936-6389, Room389oakland.com.
The Erik Estrada
2 ounces 100 percent agave tequila reposado
2 cucumber slices
0.5 ounces simple syrup
0.5 ounces fresh lime juice
3 drops habanero bitters
lime wedge or cucumber slice, for garnish
In a short shaker, add the cucumber slices and muddle. Add the simple syrup, lime juice, and tequila. Add ice, then shake and pour into a tall 12-ounce glass and add the bitters. Garnish with a lime wedge or cucumber slice.