Tequila has been known to get cozy with lime, salt, and triple sec—but orange marmalade? For Reposado bartender Megan Jones, it was an obvious match.
Cocktail: Jalisco Mermelada
$12 at Reposado (136 Ossington Ave.)
Megan Jones never thought she wanted to be a bartender. She worked in restaurants all through university and calls herself a solid server, but it wasn’t until two years ago, at BarChef, that she stepped behind the wood and became “swept up” by the job. “I was so afraid. I hadn’t even held a bottle before,” she recalls. “But I was introduced to a culture I never knew existed, and immediately wanted to be a part of.”
By that point, the 26-year-old had already strayed from her original path in sport management, which she had studied at York but quickly decided was too competitive for her. That might be a tad ironic, given that she consistently finishes strong at high-profile Toronto cocktail competitions with innovative concoctions like the Jalisco Mermelada. The drink netted her second place against major talent—winner Sarah Parniak of Cold Tea, and the runner-up, Miller Tavern’s Rob Montgomery—and is responsible for some of the growing buzz around Jones in the cocktail community. Named after the Mexican region where most tequila is made, and the drink’s not-so-secret ingredient, homemade orange marmalade, the Jalisco Mermelada is sweet, minty, and tangy, with a fresh sourness that cuts through the haze of a hot summer day.
Jones’ passion for marmalade and jam (yup, she makes that from scratch, too) stems from a spring trip to England, where she met her boyfriend’s parents for the first time. There, she was struck by his mother’s incredible garden and preserves; when Jones returned home, she began playing around with making her own, using those preserves as cocktail ingredients. Ultimately, though, she credits her colleagues for helping her learn the fundamentals and come up with novel takes on old standards.
“First Frankie [Solarik] at BarChef, then County General with Aja [Sax], and now Jan [Ollner] here, who’s a fucking wizard that nobody knows about,” she says. “I’ve been really lucky to have fallen into great places with great people.”
MEGAN JONES’ JALISCO MERMELADA
Olmeca Altos tequila + Grand Marnier + Orange marmalade + Lemon juice + Agave syrup + Bittermens Xocolatl mole bitters + Mint