The Mexican Firing Squad

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My already vast home liquor collection gets a major boost in the tequila department every year around this time. It’s not that I don’t drink tequila the rest of the year, I do; it’s just that summer just screams for it even more to me.

I’ve got everything from special bottles of extra añejo for sipping in the evening after dinner, to handles of solid, serviceable (100% agave, always) blanco tequila for cocktails. And I’m always on the lookout for something different to whip up as an icy refresher on a hot day.

When in doubt, I always recommend turning to Charles H. Baker, that sporty bon vivant who scoured the planet in search of the perfect tipple, and recorded all of his findings in two books on drinking. I’ve written about Baker [several]( [times]( before, but in the case of someone with a track record of unearthing terrific drinks like he does, there can never be enough.

The Mexican “Firing Squad” Special is a drink that Baker claims to have discovered one night in 1937 when he and his companion ditched their chaperones somewhere in Mexico City and made their way to the La Cucaracha Cocktail Club in search of fun. 

The drink is essentially a tequila Collins, made with lime in place of lemon and grenadine in place of plain sugar, with the addition of some Angostura bitters. It’s also reminiscent of an El Diablo, with grenadine in place of the creme de cassis, and soda in place of the ginger beer. At any rate, it calls for quite classic proportions and ingredients.

Baker calls for the juice of two small limes, which is likely to be around ½ oz – ¾ oz of lime juice. But then he only specifies a half teaspoon to two teaspoons of grenadine, which is an incredibly tart drink, unpalatable, really. So I take advantage of the fact that he offhandedly gives the option of gomme syrup and use that to sweeten the drink up enough to be drinkable.

And so, the Mexican Firing Squad. Tart, bracing, and appropriate as an aperitif. What better way to spend a summer afternoon.

Mexican Firing Squad
Adapted from a recipe by Charles H. Baker

2 oz silver tequila
¾ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz 2:1 simple syrup
¼ oz grenadine
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Chilled soda water

Combine tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, and grenadine in a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice cubes until cold, then add 2 oz soda water to shaker. Strain over fresh ice in a chilled Collins glass. Garnish with an orange wedge, pineapple spear, and cherry.

5 Replies to “The Mexican Firing Squad”

  • Andrew inman says:

    I’ve been doing this with pomegranate molasses either in place of the syrup/grendadine
    or mixed with it (it’s easily available at middle eastern groceries in many high end stores these days), that’s also partially because unless I make it from scratch most grenadine is just sugar/red dye these days.

  • Tim says:

    I made a derivative of this using St. Mazie’s recipe on, wherein I used 5 dashes of Angostura and 3/4 ounces of a slightly more citrusy, habanero grenadine (with habanero and the peels of a lemon, a lime, and an orange added to steep for an hour as the grenadine cools), thereby foregoing the gum syrup. Then, as it was spicy and the name conjured audible gasps from guests, we renamed it El Fusilado after the man who survived being shot by a Mexican firing squad. Easily one of my favorite drinks to discover thus far. It’s so cool to that you, Wondrich, Arnold and others have led the cocktail renaissance in uncovering these gems not quite lost to history. Definitely will have to try this version…and then try using Agave Syrup or even Triple Syrup. The comment using lime cordial sounds gorgeous as well!

  • Luc says:

    Did this twice. The first time I followed the recipe. It was awesome. The second time, I substituted the lime juice and simple syrup for 1 oz of your lime cordial (I had made a bottle the day before) and the added tartness from the citric acid made it even more fun. Loved both of them. Thanks!

  • Davide says:

    This a great adaptation, thank you for doing this!
    Making the first one to try, I forgot the Angostura and it looked and tasted like an 80’s pink drink; I realised immediately about my mistake and added the Angostura: I then had a real drink in my hands.
    Bitters in a tequila drink bring a whole spice complexity which is awesome, I will experiment on this; thank you for opening up my horizons.

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