El Centro: A Tropical Winter Cocktail - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

El Centro: A Tropical Winter Cocktail

For a fun winter weekend project, try this recipe from Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant Campfire in Carlsbad, California. For their wintry yet tropical cocktail, El Centro, they make their own smoked oat milk and toasted pepita orgeat. Cream sherry infused with a chai blend lends added warmth and complexity, and mezcal plays up the smoky notes. The recipe requires some effort, but the results are well worth it.


  • 1 oz. mezcal (Campfire uses Cupreata)
  • 1 oz. smoked oat milk
  • 3/4 oz. toasted pepita orgeat
  • 1/2 oz. chai-infused cream sherry
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ____________________________
  • Smoked Oat Milk
  • 2 cups chilled water
  • 1/2 cup toasted oats
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • ____________________________
  • Pepita Orgeat
  • 1/4 cup toasted pepitas
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • ____________________________
  • Chai Cream Sherry
  • 750mL high-quality cream sherry
  • 50g loose chai tea
  • Tools:shaker, blender, cheesecloth, sheet pan
  • Glass:double rocks
  • Garnish:edible flower and/or grated cinnamon


Combine all the ingredients into a shaker with handful of pebbled ice and whip shake it. Pour into a double rocks glass. Add a straw and top with more pebbled ice (or crush ice cubes in a sealed bag to break up into smaller bits), and garnish.

Smoked Oat MilkYield: 2 cups

Preheat oven to 225F. Spread the oats thinly on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the oats to completely cool. Add the oats, maple syrup, and half of the chilled water to a blender. Blend on low to slowly incorporate as you slowly pour the remainder of water. When sufficiently combined, strain the mixture through cheesecloth into a container. It’s crucial that the water you blend with is as cold as possible. Campfire likes to leave it in the refrigerator overnight and remove it right before preparation. Then, you want to blend as slowly as possible, to prevent the blender from heating up the mixture. Keeping the temperature as low as possible is crucial to achieving the “milk-like” consistency; otherwise you run the risk of making oatmeal. This will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Pepita OrgeatYield: 2 cups

Spread the pepitas evenly on sheet pan, then toast in the oven for 20 minutes at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Afterward, let cool. Combine the pepitas, sugar, and 75% of the water in a blender. Blend on high for 2 minutes, slowly adding the remainder of water. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth. Keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Chai Cream SherryYield: 750mL
Note: Amount and duration are subject to change based on the chai blend.

Steep the loose tea in the sherry for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature. Strain out the tea through cheesecloth. Will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 months.

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