Dead Man’s Handle | Santa Fe Sips

A dead man’s handle is a switch or lever on a train that, if released by the driver, causes the

train to stop.

This drink was created by Tiffany Kirk at Miss Carousel, Houston TX, 2019.

I don’t really know what this drink has to do with an actual dead man’s handle, but it’s a cool name. Anyway, I don’t need to understand it - I just have to enjoy it. Tequila and Aperol go naturally together. The drink is sweetened with orgeat (almond syrup) and the Aperol adds a lovely color and a slight bitter edge that counteracts the sweetness of the orgeat. Perfect for a hot summer day in Texas.

Dead Man’s Handle


  • 1.5 oz tequila blanco (pref. Fortaleza Blanco)

  • 0.75 oz Aperol

  • 0.75 oz lime juice

  • 0.25 oz orgeat

  • Garnish: Tajin seasoning


  • Chill a rocks glass

  • Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker

  • Add ice and shake for about 10 seconds

  • Strain into the rocks glass over crushed ice

  • Sprinkle Tajin seasoning lightly over the drink


  1. This drink lives on the border between the margarita and the mai tai. Here, the orgeat (almond syrup) from the mai tai takes the place of the margarita's agave syrup, adding a slight nuttiness as well as sweetness. The Aperol provides a touch of bitterness, a flavor not present in either a margarita or mai tai.

  2. You can garnish the drink either by sprinkling Tajin seasoning over the drink as I did or by rimming the glass with Tajin seasoning before filling it.


About Matt Mathai

My Santa Fe street cred: almost zero, but I do love it here. My wife and I retired to Santa Fe in 2019 after buying our house here in 2012. We lived in Annapolis, MD for many years and had long careers. Mine was in technology - airline communications, healthcare, and online training delivery.


I love to eat good food, although I can do without some of the fussiness of fine dining. Good food to me reflects its cuisine/place of origin, is filling, and doesn’t have to be expensive.

  • From childhood I’ve traveled (and eaten) all over the world, and when these pandemic restrictions ease, my wife and I will begin traveling again.

  • I have done sports photography professionally for about 15 years, mostly soccer and rugby. I’ve covered league and national team matches in both sports, for both men’s and women’s teams. Whenever I stop doing that, I want to get better at landscape and travel photography. Santa Fe is perfect for that.

  • I used to be a musician - a guitar player and singer. I quit graduate school to play in a band, which really didn’t go over very well with my parents. One day I’ll get back to it, just for myself.