Binny's Home Bartender: Ferdinand's Matador

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The original Matador cocktail, calling for Tequila, Orange Curacao, and French Vermouth first appeared in print in the Café Royal Cocktail Book, published in 1937. “Trader” Vic Bergeron printed his own version in the early seventies throwing pineapple and lime juice into the mix. These are just the two most famous Matadors but certainly not the only ones. Today, in keeping with the growing trend of “Dry January” we humbly submit our spicy nonalcoholic version to be added to list.

Tequila is always the foundation upon which any Matador is built, so we have chosen Ritual Zero Proof Tequila Alternative as our base. When mixed into cocktails, this NA “Tequila” delivers all the complex flavors of agave you expect along with fruity notes and a whisp of smoke that will make your NA cocktail taste authentic to the core.

Although we have stripped this Matador of its alcoholic sword, we have added an exciting hint of spice and tropical fruit character from habanero simple syrup making this version not only deliciously fruity but exciting to drink. You will not be done in by an alcoholic coup de grâce, you will have no hangover, but you will still experience a thrill from the provocative prick of this Matador’s rapier spice.

We have named our NA Matador for Ferdinand, the famous flower loving bull who refused to fight. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf was released in 1936 right around the time the original Matador cocktail came into existence. This seemingly simple tale managed to ruffle the feathers of everyone from Francisco Franco who was on the cusp of waging a fascist civil war in Spain and Ernest Hemingway who had already written extensively on what he perceived to be the bravery and artistry that bullfighting embodied in The Sun Also Rises and Death in the Afternoon (we assume the booze loving Hemingway would not have been too fond of our NA cocktail either).

The objections underscored the book’s brilliance and subtlety as people at every point on the political spectrum cried foul hurling what each in turn believed to be epithets, like Communist, Pacifist, Anarchist and Fascist. It could not be all these things simultaneously and was, perhaps, none of the above but one thing is certain; it allowed lovers and haters alike to project their own beliefs onto this unassuming fictional bull.

Hemingway’s macho sensibilities were so offended that he even authored his own short story that parodied Ferdinand, the ending of which I can assure you does not see the bull returned to his pasture to sniff flowers.

The ending of our story goes something like this – Ferdinand and the swordless matador meet in the ring. There is sand but no blood, honor but no glory, mutual respect but no violence. The matador and bull exit the ring as friends, both have refused to fight. They resolve to share a drink under Ferdinand’s favorite cork oak. We see them silhouetted against the evening sky, backs to the tree raising glasses of this delightfully defanged daisy we call Ferdinand’s Matador.

Habanero Simple Syrup


  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 habanero halved


  1. Add sugar, water, and habanero to a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Let cool, strain into a glass jar and seal tightly with a lid.
  4. Can be refrigerated for up to a month.

Ferdinand's Matador



  1. Sprinkle Tajín on a plate. Rub the rim of a glass with a wedge of lime. Roll the exterior of the rim in Tajín to coat.
  2. Add first 5 ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled.
  3. Strain into chilled Tajín rimmed glass. Garnish with lime wheel.

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