Happy Cuatro de Mayo!! What? That’s not a thing? Happy Cinco de Mayo Eve? Still no? Happy Wednesday? Well, whatever you’re celebrating today (or tomorrow or this weekend or next week) I hope you make it a good one. One way to do that is to add something unexpected to something fairly mundane, making it out of this world. Take for instance the humble margarita; lime juice, tequila, orange liqueur (Cointreau usually) in a salt-rimmed glass. Simple, but maybe a little boring. Now, add a little zing to it and you’ve got one heck of a drink.
I first experienced the jalapeño margarita at a dive bar on the Potomac River in DC. Actually, I experienced three. What can I say? They were good. However, I will admit that three jalapeño margaritas, high heels and cobblestones are a bad combination. Really bad. I survived, but it wasn’t pretty.
After doing some research, I infused the tequila with 2 sliced jalapeños, seeds and all, for about 6 hours. That seemed to be the general consensus on how long to infuse before straining. Well, let me tell you, that stuff is hot. Really hot. My advice is to infuse for 3 hours then taste. If it’s not hot enough, let it infuse longer. Keep tasting until you get to the desired level of heat.
Another way to take this cocktail from zero to hero is to grill the fruit. Yep. You read that right. Grill the fruit. I did limes and oranges because that’s what’s in a margarita, but adding some pineapple or mango wouldn’t go amiss here, either. It’s your margarita. Do whatever fruit you want. You do you.
- 1¼ cups tequila (see notes)
- 2 jalapeños, sliced
- 5-6 large limes, halved, plus extras for garnish
- 2-3 large oranges, halved
- ¼ cup agave syrup or honey
- Margarita salt for rimming glasses
Pour tequila into a wide-mouthed jar (such as a Mason jar). Add sliced jalapeños. Let sit until it’s hot enough, usually 3-6 hours. Strain jalapeños out and discard.
Heat grill to high heat. Place fruit, cut-side down, on hot grill. Cook until fruit is slightly charred on the sides and pulp. Remove from heat and let cool. When fruit is cool enough to handle, using a reamer, juice one kind of fruit at a time (all the limes, then all the oranges, etc..) into a blender. Pour juices into a pitcher. I used 1½ cups lime juice, 1 cup orange juice and 1¼ cups jalapeño tequila. Your juice levels may vary depending on your produce. Add agave syrup or honey. Mix well to combine. Serve over ice in a salt-rimmed glass or blend with ice in blender for frozen margaritas. This serves about 6 thirsty people.
- Don’t use the good tequila for this. Use the cheap stuff. No need to waste good Patron or Tres Commas (NSFW) on something that you’re just going to infuse.
- You may or may not need all ¼cup honey or agave. It really depends on how sweet you like your margaritas and how sweet your oranges are. Taste the mix before adding the sweetener. Then decide how sweet you need to make it.