The Spaghetti Western: Drink up. Summer's almost over. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

I’ve been using a lot of produce in cocktails lately — such as sweet corn in the Silver Queen Daisy. I’ve also been looking for ways to use fresh tomatoes in cocktails. So I was very happy to get the latest issue of Imbibe magazine and see a nice little feature on mixing drinks with tomatoes.

Of course, the cocktail that usually pops to mind when we say tomatoes is the bloody Mary, generally made with canned tomato juice. But lots of bartenders now experiment with muddling fresh tomatoes to add an even more savory element to the mix. One of my favorites is the tequila-based Drinko de Gallo, which calls for cherry tomatoes and cilantro.

Reading the Imbibe article, I was drawn to San Francisco bartender Scott Baird’s bourbon-and-cherry-tomato-based Spaghetti Western, which I’ve included here. Baird contends that bourbon, with its “rich, fatty mouthfeel” matches extremely well with the “tang of a tomato,” and I agree wholeheartedly. “Tomatoes are easy to work with once you understand that they can add some umami to a drink,” Baird is quoted as saying.

The Spaghetti Western also shares some similarities to the classic Mexican beer cocktail, the Michelada: It calls for Mexican lager. However, I think it works better with a richer beer such as Leffe Blonde, which always pairs well with bourbon.

Here’s to the waning days of summer!

Spaghetti Western

1 serving

This is a fresh, bourbon-y take on the classic Mexican beer cocktail called a Michelada. It calls for ripe, end-of-season cherry tomatoes and Mexican lager, such as Pacifico or Dos Equis.

Spirits columnist Jason Wilson, however, found that a beer with a little more flavor, such as Leffe Blonde, also worked well.

Adapted from a recipe in the September/October 2011 issue of Imbibe magazine.

4 to 6 cherry tomatoes, plus 1 for garnish

1 1/2 ounces bourbon

1/2 ounce Campari

1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Scant pinch of salt


1 1/2 ounces Mexican lager

Twist of lemon peel, for garnish

Muddle the 4 to 6 cherry tomatoes in a cocktail shaker. Add the bourbon, Campari, lemon juice and salt, then fill the shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, then double-strain (through the shaker’s strainer and also through a small, fine-mesh strainer) into a Pilsener glass.

Add the beer, then a few more ice cubes to fill the glass. Garnish with the remaining cherry tomato and the twist of lemon peel (perhaps using a toothpick to skewer the two together).