This time of year celebrates lingering conversations and belly laughs, cozying up by the fireplace with friends new and old, and the communal experience of sharing a meal. But the brightest spot of the holiday season is the opportunity to help those who need it most.
Teremana Tequila is serving holiday cheer by the bottle while giving back to the hospitality community that shines so brilliantly, now and year-round. Mana for a Cause, Teremana’s charitable program, has pledged to donate $250,000 to Another Round Another Rally, a nonprofit that provides funding, educational resources, and emergency aid to members of the bar and restaurant industry.
Earlier this year, bartenders had the opportunity to participate in Mana for a Cause by crafting a bespoke cocktail made with Teremana Tequila and adding it to their menus, helping to spread the word about the initiative. One participant, bartender Ezana “EZ” Million, was selected to share the story behind his drink.
The skilled and down-to-earth mixologist works behind the bar at a West Indian-inspired spot on the Lower East Side in New York City. A veteran of the service industry, Million was working in small restaurants 13 years ago before moving to New York to pursue music. Between Irish pubs and high-volume cocktail bars, Million honed his flavors as a barback, squeezing his own custom juices and lemonades, earning him the moniker “The Lemonade Man.” At his current bar, Million started slinging cocktails and, after just four months, went on to become bar manager.
Here, Million tells VinePair about his history, what the holidays mean to him, and his signature cocktail, Mana Medicine.
Million shaking things up behind the bar.
I learned a lot from three different bartenders that I had worked with throughout my career. I borrowed a little bit of their technique and style and then created my own thing. It’s been an interesting journey, and I like making delicious drinks that bring everyone together.
Some of the key ingredients in Million’s Teremana cocktail creation: ginger, honey, and lemon.
[The bar I work at] is really a rum-based cocktail bar. But ironically enough, tequilas are our bestsellers. At a lot of places right now tequila is very in, so you see a lot of small-batch stuff like Teremana or tequila with no additives. I think the natural process of how tequila is made and where it comes from is what makes it so unique. And I love a tequila with an aged flavor.
With a lot of spirits, I tend to gravitate towards something neat, something I can sip on. Anything that can stand on its own, you can make into a cocktail you’ll really enjoy. Something I like doing is creating a traditional cocktail with a spirit you might not typically use for it. For example, I love Negronis, but I rarely ever drink a gin Negroni — it’s always some kind of take, like a Boulevardier or a tequila Negroni.
My drink, Mana Medicine, is a take on a Penicillin. There was a period of time when I was working in the service industry as a delivery guy. In the winter, it gets particularly brutal, and that’s usually when I would see an uptick in deliveries because nobody wanted to go outside. So I would get a little sick every now and then and was making myself Hot Toddies. One year, I got really sick, and one of my friends was like, “Hey, you should probably get some ginger in you.” He made me a Penicillin, and I ended up really enjoying it. In terms of beverages, it was such a healing thing for me at the time, something that brought me back to life [and helped my] energy. I figured it was something I could give back to other people, a drink that embodied that hopeful experience of, you know, things will get better, and sometimes you just gotta have a little ginger and honey.
When it comes to the holidays and that holiday spirit, for a long period of time, my extended family was spread across different cities and states, and we wouldn’t see each other too much. But Christmas was always one of those days where it would be really quiet in our home, and then, all of a sudden, like six cars would pull up. And we were like, “Oh my goodness, the entire family’s here, and we only have two mattresses.” It brought a lot of life and energy into [what would otherwise be] a fairly dull day.
I love that moment of utter chaos where everyone in the family is just rolling with the punches, and I’m huddled up with five of my cousins and siblings on a tiny couch together. It’s some of the most heartwarming memories that I have of the holidays and my childhood.
The cocktail: Mana Medicine.
Try EZ’s Mana Medicine out for yourself by following the recipe below:
1 ½ ounces Teramana Reposado
½ ounce Teramana Añejo
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce honey
½ ounce fresh ginger juice
Garnish: expressed lemon peel
In a shaker add all ingredients except Teramana Añejo, then add ice, shake, and strain over fresh ice cubes.
Float Teramana Añejo, squeeze a lemon peel to activate oils, and then rim the glass, garnish, and enjoy!
This article is sponsored by Teremana Tequila.
The article Mana for a Cause: Teremana Tequila Is Giving Back During the Holidays With Ezana ‘EZ’ Million appeared first on VinePair.