I first fell in love with the combination of tamarind and tequila when I sampled a Tamarind Margarita at the Sauza distillery in Tequila, Mexico. This is a flavor pairing made in drink heaven and this mixed drink is a very easy way to enjoy the taste.
Essentially, we're making a spiked tamarind soda. The earthy flavors of both main ingredients really shine through in this simple adaptation. Other tamarind products can be used, though I find that the nectar is best when stirring it into drinks (more on tamarind below the recipe). Also, I like to go on the sweeter side of ginger ales and use one such as Verners.
More about tamarind:
The tamarind tree produces pods that contain a unique fruit which is used in a variety of foods throughout the world including Indian, Mexican, and Mediterranean. It has a well-known sour flavor though as the fruit ripens it also becomes sweeter.
When it comes to adding tamarind to drinks there are a few options...
Tamarind Nectar or Syrup- Often, the nectar is a tamarind concentrate that has water, sugar, and other additives. This is an ideal way to add tamarind to drinks that are stirred and shaken. You can find the nectar in many grocery stores, often in the juice aisle and sometimes in the whole foods or organic section.
Tamarind Paste or Concentrate - This is a thicker tamarind product and is good to use in blended drinks such as the Tamarind Margarita. The paste can be found in ethnic food grocers and sections of many markets.
Agua de Tamarindo or Tamarindo - This is a popular drink in Mexico and can be made at home by boiling fresh tamarind pods in water until liquified, then combined with sugar. Tamarindo also makes an appearance as a bottled soda including one produced by Jarritos. These can often be found in Mexican markets.
If you have the desire, you can process raw tamarind pods into a paste or puree yourself. It can be a daunting task, though well worth the effort, especially if you are also interested in cooking with it.
Tamarind flavor pairings:
Tamarind pairs very well with tequila and can also be used with vodka. The sweetness of rum and a sweeter whiskey may also work well with tamarind, though this may be a little trickier to find a balance. Other flavors that are nice with tamarind are ginger, coconut, chiles, lime, anise, and cinnamon. Tamarind tends to also work well with a variety of fruit juices, especially sweeter ones that balance the tamarind's sour profile.