From appetizers and desserts to cocktails to pair with them, Don Julio Tequila and Toronto chef Matthew Ravenscroft have everything you need for a festive Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, and whether you're celebrating at home or virtually with friends and family, there has never been a better year to celebrate with a nod to true appreciation for those you hold dear.

Don Julio González loved people above all else. That is why he developed the world’s first luxury tequila and devoted 45 years to perfecting his craft and pioneering techniques, always finding ways to improve. He cared for his agaves like children and poured his passion into making an exceptional tequila to be shared only with those closest to him.

To celebrate his life's work, his children insisted on bottling and labelling his tequila, but The Don only agreed on the condition that they use a short bottle so people could see each other while enjoying it.

Today, Don Julio is a timeless, authentic tequila that still hails from the highlands in Mexico, perfect for Cinco De Mayo and beyond into the summer season. And this Cinco de Mayo, Don Julio and Toronto chef Matthew Ravenscroft have partnered to create the perfect bites and beverage combos to help you celebrate authentically and in style.

In the recipes that follow, Don Julio brings spark, passion and quality to Cinco de Mayo celebrations, while Ravenscroft harnesses the power of vegetables for delicious, inventive appetizers that are truly something to celebrate.

don-julio-4Roasted sweet potato with charred Ontario corn, pickled pearl onions, pumpkin seeds + edamame puree. Paired with: Don Julio Paloma. Photo: Jim Norton

Roasted sweet potato with charred Ontario corn, pickled pearl onions, pumpkin seeds + edamame puree

Paired with: Don Julio Paloma

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, washed
  • 1 ear of Ontario corn
  • 5 red pearl onions, peeled and cut in half
  • 1/2C cider vinegar
  • 1/2C water
  • 3TBSP cane sugar
  • 1TBSP salt
  • 3 TBSP pumpkin seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 1C edamame puree *

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F. Cut potato in half lengthwise, then cut into 1 in. wedges and season with oil + salt.
  2. Evenly space on baking tray and place in oven once heated for 15-20 minutes until tender (you should be able to poke a fork in without resistance).
  3. Char corn in skillet or over and open flame, remove kernels from cob + season with lemon juice and salt.
  4. In a small pot, combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt and bring to a boil; pour pickling liquid over onion halves and cool in fridge.
  5. To plate, place edamame puree on the bottom of the plate, followed by sweet potato wedges lined up on the plate. Garnish with charred corn, crushed pumpkin seeds + pickled pearl onions.

*Edamame puree recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1C of edamame, peeled
  • 2TBSP pumpkin seeds
  • 1 lemon
  • 1tsp baking powder 

Instructions

  1. Bring small pot of water to a boil with salt and baking powder. Add in a clove of garlic, jalapeno and pumpkin seeds for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add edamame into the pot and blanche for 2 minutes until tender and blend all ingredients together until smooth. Add a bit of extra water to get a smoother consistency.
  3. Cool in a wide bowl and adjust seasoning with some lemon zest, some juice and salt.

Don Julio Paloma

Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Don Julio Blanco Tequila
  • 0.5 oz grapefruit juice
  • 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz soda water

Preparation

  1. Fill a tall glass with ice. 
  2. Pour Don Julio Blanco Tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice and simple syrup into the glass.
  3. Top with soda water.
  4. Garnish with a wedge of lime. 

Don Julio Tequila 1Buffalo cauliflower with nutritional yeast, dill cashew cream + giardiniera. Paired with: Don Julio Margarita. Photo: Jim Norton

Buffalo cauliflower with nutritional yeast, dill cashew cream + giardiniera 

Paired with: Don Julio Margarita 

 Ingredients:

  • 1LB of cauliflower, cut into large florets (thumb-sized)
  • 1C hot sauce of your choice
  • 1/4C agave
  • 3TBSP (vegan) butter
  • 2TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 2tsp lemon zest
  • 1C dill cashew cream *
  • 2TBSP oil (sunflower, coconut, canola or grapeseed work well)

Instructions 

  1. In a small pot, add in hot sauce, agave, vegan butter + lemon zest and bring to a gentle simmer. Adjust seasoning with salt to your preference and let simmer for 5 minutes. It should thicken in consistency.
  2. In a heavy skillet, heat oil and sear cauliflower (careful not to crowd the pan) on high heat. Season with salt and toss until tender but with a bit of crunch – reduce heat to low.
  3. Pour half the buffalo sauce over the cauliflower and toss in the pan until evenly coated and sticky. Remove from heat and add to a bowl with remaining buffalo sauce. Stir together and adjust season to your preference. 
  4. To plate, pile cauliflower on plate and top with nutritional yeast. Add generous dollops of dill cashew cream, followed by crushed cashew, giardiniera and picked dill.

 *Dill Cashew Cream recipe

 Ingredients 

  • 3TBSP dill, chopped
  • 1C unsalted cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/4C cold water (as needed) 

Instructions 

  1. Blend cashews and lemon juice together on high, stream in water and blend on high until creamy consistency reached (you may need to blend longer than expected).
  2. Add in dill and blend quickly on high. Adjust seasoning accordingly.

* Giardiniera & Pickling Liquid Recipe 

Ingredients 

  • 1 medium sized carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (or less depending on spice level
  • 1 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 1/4tsp crushed peppercorn
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2C salt 

*Pickling liquid*

  • 1C vinegar (cider, white or wine)
  • 1C water
  • 2TBSP olive oil
  • 1TBSP kosher salt

 Instructions 

  1. Combine vegetables in a large metal bowl. Add 1/4 cup of salt over vegetables and pour cold water over just enough to cover them. Let sit in the fridge for 6 hours (overnight is better if possible). Rinse and drain vegetables.
  2. Add aromatics to container and add vegetables. Bring pickling liquid to a boil and pour directly over vegetables. Cool in fridge before sealing with lid.

Don Julio Margarita

Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Don Julio Blanco Tequila
  • 0.75 oz fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup / agave nectar
  • 1 lime wedge

Preparation

  1. Combine Don Julio Blanco Tequila, lime juice, simple syrup/agave nectar into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass over ice.
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge.

don-julio-3Citrus salad with Ontario pear, fennel, bitter greens + walnut vinaigrette. Paired with: Don Julio + Soda. Photo: Jim Norton

Citrus salad with Ontario pear, fennel, bitter greens + walnut vinaigrette 

Paired with: Don Julio + Soda

Ingredients

  • 1 orange
  • 1 blood orange
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 clementine
  • 1 pear, semi-ripe + shaved
  • 1C shaved fennel
  • 1 head chicory, washed and chopped (frisée, radicchio or endive will do)
  • 1/2 shallot, peeled and diced
  • 5 leaves of mint, chopped
  • 1/4C walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • walnut vinaigrette * 

Instructions

  1. Remove skin + pith from citrus fruits and clean so it’s just fleshy rounds of sunshine. Slice in 1/2IN rounds and place in a medium sized mixing bowl with salt and some olive oil.
  2. In a bowl combine shaved fennel, mint, chicory + diced shallot with salt, walnut vinaigrette and any left over citrus juice from your cutting board.
  3. Spread oranges evenly across the plate. Add sliced pear on top of citrus and drizzle with left over citrus juices. Cover with crushed walnuts and place fennel salad in the centre of the plate, stacked high. Garnish with finishing salt + cracked black pepper and an extra splash of vinaigrette. 

* Walnut vinaigrette Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 3TBSP grainy/Dijon mustard
  • 1/4C cider vinegar 
  • 1/4C sunflower or canola oil
  • 1/2C walnut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Instructions 

  1. Add mustard and vinegar to your blender (you could also do this by hand) and blend with some salt and pepper (feel free to add any additional flavourbombs into this).
  2. Combine both oil in a pitcher/bowl (something you can pour easily out of, like a measuring cup) and set blender on to high with mustard/vinegar. Slowly stream in oil to emulsify vinaigrette until all oil is added into blender.
  3. Adjust seasoning to your preferences. If your vinaigrette breaks, don’t sweat it! Just shake it up right before you are ready to serve and try again next time!

Don Julio Blanco and Soda - Simple Serve

Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Don Julio Blanco Tequila
  • 7 oz soda water
  • 2 lime wedges

Preparation

  1. Drop a lime wedge into the bottom of a glass and top with ice.
  2. Add Don Julio Blanco Tequila.
  3. Top with soda and an additional lime wedge. 

don-julio-2Chocolate avocado cake with tequila caramel, vanilla butter cream + orange. Paired with: Don Julio Paloma. Photo: Jim Norton

Chocolate avocado cake with tequila caramel, vanilla butter cream + orange 

Paired with: Don Julio Paloma

Ingredients

  • 3C all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2C coconut (or cane) sugar
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1C cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp vanilla
  • 1/4C coconut oil
  • 2tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 can coconut milk (or any milk really)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • Garnish vanilla buttercream
  • Tequila caramel *
  • 1 orange (for the zest)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Thoroughly line cake pan with oil/fat of some sort.
  2. Sift flour + cocoa powder into a bowl. Combine with sugar, baking powder, baking soda + salt and mix together.
  3. Combine all wet ingredients (including the avocado) in a blender, and blend on high until smooth (if you find it’s a bit thick, like a batter, add a splash of water).
  4. Combine wet to dry and gently fold mixture together; a few small lumps are okay.
  5. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes (you should be able to put a skewer/fork in the center and see it come out clean). Remove from oven + let cool fully before cutting.
  6. To plate, place piece of cake on bottom of plate, pour tequila caramel beside cake slice, add a small layer of buttercream on top + a zest of orange. Add some seasonal berries on top to jazz it up a bit!

*Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2C softened vegan butter (not melted/warmed)
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2C powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2TBSP coconut milk

Instructions

  1. Combine butter + vanilla in a bowl, use an electric hand mixer to cream butter and sugar together until fluffy (we used a blender and it worked great).
  2. Add sifted powdered sugar + almond milk and continue mixing until fluffy (about a minute).

*Tequila Caramel Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1oz Don Julio Reposado
  • 1C brown sugar
  • 1/4C coconut milk
  • 1/2C vegan butter
  • 2TSP orange juice

Instructions

  1. Combine brown sugar and coconut milk and bring to a simmer until it starts to thicken. Stir continuously.
  2. Remove from heat temporarily and add in orange juice and butter (be careful, the sugar will be hot and will rise with the addition of butter into the pair).
  3. Return to medium heat and whisk together.
  4. Add tequila into the pot and whisk continually to cook out the alcohol.
  5. Reduce to desired texture and keep on low heat until serving.

Learn more about Don Julio Tequila at donjulio.com

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Learn more about Matthew Ravenscroft at joinwavy.com/experts/matthew-ravenscroft or in Instagram @thedirtyraven