There’s always a reason to celebrate life with Margaritas, in my opinion. I recently returned home from a month in Japan and China. I came back all in one piece, thankfully. After I got over the jet lag, I was ready to reunite with my awesome sister and family. I was in a celebratory mood – not only because I’d be spending time with my loved ones, but also because we were celebrating my grandma’s 100th birthday. Yep. Now, I think that is absolutely a good reason to indulge in some festive tequila, don’t you agree?
While planning the menu and drinks for the party, I remembered a delicious concoction I had in Santa Fé, New Mexico at the uber-cool bar, Secreto Lounge. The menu at this “secret” bar features a Spicy Secreto margarita. They had me at “spicy.” I had to try it and it was difficult to only have one. I don’t know if they use Jalapeño-infused tequila or fresh hot peppers. I guess that part of their recipe is a secret.
I didn’t ask the mixologist for his recipe, but no worries – I’ve come up with my version (after several experiments), and I’ll humbly say this Margarita kicks your behind (in a good way!) And, I think it looks even prettier. Mine is below 😉
While the Margarita at Secreto Lounge has additional ingredients, which they do list on the menu – like elderflower liqueur – I’m keeping my recipe very simple. I don’t see myself chasing around town looking for such exotic ingredients.
So, my recipe just calls for cucumbers, freshly-squeezed lime juice, hot peppers, and Agave nectar (syrup). This drink will be a keeper in your cocktail repertoire, I promise. It’s the perfect refreshing drink for hot summer days… Oh, how hypocritical of me – I think this drink is excellent at any time of the year. The heat of the fresh hot peppers are tempered just right by the cool cucumbers, and the Agave nectar does a great job of balancing the tartness of the lime juice.
Oh, and I don’t know about you, but I cannot have a Margarita without a salt rim. I used what spices I had on hand to create a yummy spicy salt that you can add around the rim of your glass. It’s optional, but I’m sharing the recipe for the spicy salt as well.
You can make these cocktails one by one – or make a pitcher ahead of time (see quick tips at the end of the recipe). I’m sort of crazy, since I enjoy the process of making the drinks to order for small gatherings, but if I’m feeling under a time constraint, I’ll make enough mixture for 4 drinks at-a-time. But honestly, for larger parties – and after a few rounds of these for your guests, you’ll want to say forget it and pull out your pre-mixed batch that you’ve been storing (hiding) in a pitcher in your refrigerator.
Okay, so without further delay, below is a really simple recipe for G’s Margaritas with a Kick.
INGREDIENTS (per 1 cocktail):
- 2 oz of your favorite silver tequila
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/4 small Jalapeño (or Serrano), roughly chopped
- 1 tsp of Agave nectar
Spicy salt for the rim (You can make a larger batch for several drinks):
- 1 tbsp of Chili powder (if it’s roughly ground, even better)
- A dash of Cayenne Pepper (optional)
- 1 tbsp sea salt or coarse Kosher salt
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Turbinado sugar (any sugar with texture)
1. Make your spicy salt in a bowl, mix it well and place it on a flat dish so you can dip the rim of your glass on it later.
2. Peel the cucumbers, making sure to remove the skin completely, otherwise your drinks will be bitter. Cut in 4 equal parts.
3. Squeeze lime juice – it is best if you use your hands and not a utensil to help you squeeze the limes. This way, you’ll avoid getting the bitter part of the lime into your drinks. Set aside.
4. Cut pepper in half, lengthwise. Cut the halves again, right through the middle. (You’ll end up with 4 long quarters). Remove seeds and devein. Roughly chop each quarter.
5. In a cocktail shaker, add 1/4 of the chopped cucumber, 1/4 of the chopped hot peppers. Muddle together to release the oils of the peppers. Don’t worry about dissolving the ingredients completely. You’ll be shaking them with ice, which will help break the cucumbers and peppers apart.
6. Add the lime juice, then the tequila, then and Agave nectar to your shaker. Add a handful of ice. Shake vigorously.
7. Moisten the rim of your glass with a piece of lime. Dip your glass on the plate holding the spicy salt, covering the rim with it. Add fresh ice to your glass. Using a strainer, pour the good contents from the shaker into your glass. (I tried the drink without straining it and it wasn’t fun getting bits and pieces of the Serrano pepper through my straw).
8. To finish off the presentation, you can add a cucumber wheel to the rim of your glass or just float it on top of the drink. Or you can skewer a slice of jalapeño, cucumber and a wedge of lime and add it to the drink. Anything works. It’s time to enjoy!