You’ve arrived to Margaritaville! Population: You, dudes.
…Also known as my mouth, every couple weeks.
Welcome; I promise – I’m minty fresh.
Partially because I love margaritas. Partially because I like Jimmy Buffet. But mostly because years ago, I used to visit my Mom and Dad as snowbirds in Mazatlán.
We discovered out of the way restaurants to dine ocean-side.
Mom and I went body boarding; Dad couldn’t be coaxed into the water.
We learned Spanish.
We participated in Carnaval.
We crashed a wedding once.
We were tourists… And there were margaritas.
So much so that I get serious hankerin in my pants for a good margarita on a regular basis.
Like I said, every couple weeks.
Lucky for me, there’s this brilliant Cantina on 4th Ave that serves them up real good. And tasty. And just like I used to drink in México. It’s called Las Margaritas (right???) and is only a 10 minute walk from my apartment.
As you meander down the hill to the restaurant, the intoxicating scent of corn tortillas and lime juice guide you to their doorstep. That, and the rhythmic swaying of palm trees under the twinkle lights of the patio.
Okay, there aren’t palm trees. But there’s definitely palm bushes. And so much mariachi music. And fresh guacamole.
Oh, and margaritas. Did I mention the margaritas?
..Walking 10 minutes back up hill works off all the calories in those babies, right?
When it comes to cocktails, I am emphatically classic: Anti-blended, anti-sugar and pro-booze. But for today’s post, I wanted to get a little crazy and create a drink that honours the quintessential essence of the margarita yet entertains something new.
I wanted to go all loca on your asses.
So, Mint Cucumber & Smoky Jalapeno Margaritas.
Delicious. Aromatic. Refreshing. Complex in flavour. Simple in nature. And boozy.
First, make sure your salt is flaky and coarse. Fine grind table salt has no place on a margarita. Or on the table for that matter. Throw that shit out. I recommend Maldón because it melts on your tongue but a nice kosher would work too. I was lucky enough to have Jayme (who is super badass, btw) gift me some incredible Unicorn Salt. Uh, clearly I used that. The fact that it had smoked paprika in it (as does my recipe for your salt rim) was just damn good luck.
Second, tequila. Oh, for the love of tequila. Use lots! Despite the fact that it’s been known to make my clothes fall off, I have a love affair with good quality tequila. For the purposes of our margarita, look for 100% agave reposado or blanco (aka silver) tequila. I used George Clooney’s Casamigos Reposado because, well, George Clooney. But it also has this incredible caramel aroma and full mouth feel. It’s also a little gritty at the end. Which is how I like my tequila. And my lovers. Ow ow! Not that I’m saying George (yeah, we’re on a first name basis) and I are lovers or anything….
Side note: Clooney. Tequila. Fresh produce. Unicorn salt. Do I really need to convince you any further that this drink is ‘da bomb?
Second side note: I may need to convince you that *I* am in fact, ‘da bomb… Considering I use outdated phrases like “da bomb”. But trust me – while I may not be, this drink is legit. Too legit to quit.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling extra saucy and want to try something other than tequila, grab a bottle of smoky Mezcal instead. It’s super smoky.
Third, there are so few ingredients in a margarita that you have to choose your ingredients wisely. Just like the Gin Old Fashioned or the best damn Gin & Tonic I’ve ever had (both of which also hold fond, fuzzy memories for me), you have to use the best quality ingredients your purse strings can spend. There’s no where for shitty flavours to hide in there. Simply put, if you use crap ingredients, you’ll have a crap margarita. So get clean: organic. Get fresh:
make out with me no lime cordial, margarita mix or concentrate. Get real: use lots of tequila and as little sugar as possible.
Fourth, shaken, not stirred. Or god damn blended. Clearly I feel strongly about this. You want the drink to be appropriately frosty but not so cold it numbs your tongue or waters down the flavours. Shaking – the cocktail shaker, the mason jar, and/or your fine ass is appropriate here.
Fifth, make lots. Duh.
Before we get to the recipe, I’m giving a huge tequila induced shout out to Kate Ramos at ¡Hola Jalapeño! for organizing all us crazy margarita-infused food minds to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and #MargaritaWeek… And for giving me a reason to buy some new tequila.
Be sure to check out the other 35 creations by visiting Kate’s site. If you like margaritas (and clearly you do, which is why we’re such close bffs), you’ll like her post.
Cheers my friends. Here’s to fond memories, fuzzy memories and good memories all the same. ¡Salud!
- 2 jalapeños
- 1/2 C flaky, coarse sea salt (i.e. Maldón)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/3 C cucumber, diced
- 1 cube brown or cane sugar
- 1 shot Cointreau
- 1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, lightly packed
- 2 shots reposado or silver tequila (or mezcal if you're feeling adventurous)
- 1/3 C fresh lime juice
- To serve: Extra lime wedges + slices of cucumber
- Pre-heat your grill or broiler to 450 degrees F. Place jalapeños on the grate and blacken thoroughly, approx 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and let cool to touch. Roughly chop.
- As the peppers char, combine the flaky, course sea salt and smoked paprika in a shallow rimmed dish. Set aside.
- Take one of the lime wedges and run it along the lip of the glass. Dip into the prepared salt/paprika dish and twist your wrist to coat the rim. Gently shake off excess. Set aside.
- Place a quarter of the blackened jalapeños, diced cucumber, sugar and Cointreau in a large mason jar or cocktail shaker. Muddle with a bit of force until the sugar breaks down.
- Add the mint leaves, tequila and lime juice. Muddle lightly. You don't want to destroy the mint but rather, extract the oils.
- Top with ice, cover tightly and shake until your arm hurts.
- Place a small, fine mesh strainer over the prepared glass and pour the liquid through it.
- Garnish with a lime wedge and slice of cucumber. Bottoms up!
- If you're afraid of the heat or want a milder spicy factor, you can slice the jalapeños length-wise and spoon out the seeds and white innards - this is where the heat mainly comes from - before you grill them. Be sure to wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after handling spicy peppers and for the love of god, don't touch your eye or private bits before doing so. Ouchy.