You’ve arrived to Margaritaville! Population: You, dudes.
…Also known as my mouth, every couple weeks.
Welcome; I promise – I’m minty fresh.
I have fond memories of margaritas. Albeit fuzzy. But fond.
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’d spend days walking around the city, checking out the sites.
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.
To this day, the smells and flavours I experienced in México haunt me like a sexy dream… You just want to fall back to sleep and get it on. Barry White style.
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.
You guys – these guys are daaaaangerous.
Delicious. Aromatic. Refreshing. Complex in flavour. Simple in nature. And boozy.
To help you when making your own Mint Cucumber & Smoky Jalapeno Margaritas (or any margaritas, for that matter) here are a few guidelines to follow to get the best margarita in your face:
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.
And now, bring on the tequila!
Cheers my friends. Here’s to fond memories, fuzzy memories and good memories all the same. ¡Salud!
Mint Cucumber & Smoky Jalapeno Margarita
Yield 1 serving
- 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
- Grill the jalapeños. 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.
- Prepare your serving glass: 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.
- Make your cocktail: 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.
KateApril 29, 2016 at 3:23 AM
Oh ma gawd!!! Where do I start?! The photos are drop-dead gorgeous! Love, love, love Unicorn salt! This drink sounds incredible! Thanks so, so much for sharing your talents with the margarita-drinking world!!
Kristy GardnerApril 30, 2016 at 9:33 AM
Aw thanks Kate lady love! I’m so thrilled to participate in your event. And that’s not just the tequila talking 😉 Cheers to us!
Kristy Gardner recently published…White Pizza: Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms + Rosemary Potatoes with Garlic Cream Sauce
BeckyApril 29, 2016 at 5:10 AM
I love margs. Sadly, years of bartending and hosting massive margarita parties mean I am no longer capable of just making on at a time. I only know how to make them in batches, a pitcher being the smallest version. More to share, right? My signature marg is a watermelon marg. Try it. You’ll love it.
Kristy GardnerApril 30, 2016 at 9:34 AM
I’m not convinced that’s a problem, Becky. You want to make a batch, a pitcher, a barrel, a god damn vat of the things, I’ll take ’em 😉 Especially if watermelon is involved.
Kristy Gardner recently published…Super-Stuffed, Cheesy, Bacony Twice Baked Potatoes
Jayme | holly & floraApril 29, 2016 at 12:06 PM
First of all, let me say that I absolutely want to make out with that last photo. GORGEOUS!!! I am in love with these moody shots. I feel there is a need for a soundtrack here. Cue that Barry White! And my day is made knowing that George makes tequila! When I eventually make my rosé, I am so gifting him a bottle! And YES to the Mezcal marg! I usually keep the ratio 1 part Mezcal to 2 parts tequila, since I like just a hint of smoke. And I said wussed-out today and second guessed my relevance. But you know? If you say your so-called outdated phrase with confidence and gusto, it can become hip again. I’m going with that. 😉 And I am so happy you like the Unicorn salt! You certainly have the giant size edition – lol! Cheers to all of the upcoming margaritas on the interwebs!
And PS – I love you!
Jayme | holly & flora recently published…glow, baby, glow | cucumber, honeydew + kale shots from jules aron’s book, “zen and tonic”
Kristy GardnerApril 30, 2016 at 9:37 AM
Awwwwww Jayme!!! I feel like maybe I was channeling YOUR superb cocktail photography talent while I was doing this recipe. I thought: Garden. Booze. Style. Which is kind of your blog in all its glorious splendor. Also, I just used “glorious splendor” and it’s only 9:35am.
When you eventually make your rosé, I would like to get on that train too please. And not just because George is on it 😉
xoxoxo – cheers to the upcoming margs and to good company!! And damn good salt.
Kristy Gardner recently published…Argentinian “Pesto”: Chimichurri Sauce
KikiApril 29, 2016 at 12:38 PM
Wow! I’m waiting for the technology that lets you just grab one of those drinks off the screen…
I read A LOT of food blogs, but this margarita speaks to me like nothing has in a very long while! I’m definitely going to try this soon.
Reading about all the Mexican food just around the corner really makes me envious – here (in Germany) there are very few Mexicans restaurants, and those really only serve convenience food.
Love your pics,by the way – always an inspiration! The very used baking sheet you used as a surface in your cookbook post made me dig out mine a time or two to use as a background. Genius 🙂
Kristy GardnerApril 30, 2016 at 9:39 AM
hahahaha Kiki! That would be the most AMAZING technology. I’m going to write a letter to NASA and ask them to get on that shit 😉
Thank you so much for the kind words and for taking the time to say hey. Hey back.
PS. RIGHT?! I loved my “very used baking sheet”. Also known as my my piece of shit industrial pan that should probably be burned. haha… xo! Happy Margarita week!
Kristy Gardner recently published…The Most Stunning Quick Pickled Red Onions
Sally - My Custard PieApril 30, 2016 at 11:09 AM
SO glad I visited your blog today. It’s a good read, made me chuckle and now I’m plotting when I can make these little devils. Totally with you on the anti-blending stakes and on the make sure you use enough (good quality) booze stakes. Cin cin
Helen @ Fuss Free FlavoursApril 30, 2016 at 11:18 AM
What a fantastic margarita, and moody photos too! Happy Margarita week indeed!
Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours recently published…Butternut Squash, Tahini & Lemon Soup
Beth @ Binky's Culinary CarnivalApril 30, 2016 at 1:00 PM
Love the idea of the grilled jalapenos! They have to add a great flavor!!
NoelApril 30, 2016 at 1:12 PM
The power of food and drink to link us to memories and places ….
I can almost teleport to a Mexican beach looking at these photos and reading this post.
It’s time for a vacation
Debi at Life CurrentsApril 30, 2016 at 2:58 PM
Happy Margarita week! This drink looks so wonderful! A great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo! Or any day!
Karen @ Karen's Kitchen StoriesApril 30, 2016 at 10:18 PM
Kind of the most gorgeous margarita photos I’ve ever seen. Seriously. Loved this post. You write so beautifully.
Karen @ Karen’s Kitchen Stories recently published…Mini White Chocolate Birthday Cake
MB @ Bourbon and Brown SugarMay 1, 2016 at 3:14 AM
Just discovered your blog via the Margarita Party 🙂 LOVE your photos… and the margaritas look divine… looking forward to following more of your culinary adventures!
Keith @ How's it Lookin?May 1, 2016 at 7:53 AM
Looks so good. This flavor is a new one to me, thanks a lot
Keith @ How’s it Lookin? recently published…Chocolate Mousse Tart Recipe
JenMay 6, 2016 at 12:08 PM
seriously, can I come over for a margarita? I don’t even like tequila (please don’t boo me too loudly…I blame it on my early 20s…) but I might make an exception for these ones. And unicorn salt?? Too much in the best way possible! Beautiful photos, by the way…
MDIVADOMESTICAMay 6, 2016 at 12:27 PM
So fantastically fun! Definitely trying some this weekend.
sukiMay 6, 2016 at 12:53 PM
Somehow this reminds me of a cheescake 😀 not sure why! :)Looks great for friday night!
Cassie | Crumb KitchenMay 6, 2016 at 3:06 PM
Kristy, your photos are to die for! And I haven’t even started commenting on this amazing drink…damn, girl. I can attest to the jalapeño hotness. A couple months ago I got distracted after chopping 8 (!!) peppers and rubbed my eye big time. Yeah, you can imagine how that went.
Can’t wait to try this. Looks stunning!
SeanMay 6, 2016 at 6:42 PM
Not that I’m even slightly surprised, but you’ve nailed it again. I particularly love how many savoury/vegetal elements are coming into play here. As someone who’s not a big sweet booze fan, it makes the whole thing look way more appealing than a standard margarita.