Doña is back with another Pinned it. Did it. post and it involves margaritas. Yes, please. Read on!
My love affair with spicy cocktails began on a sweltering day in an upstairs cantina in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Coyote Cafe makes a Hatch Chile-infused margarita called the Norteño, so good it is even mentioned their TripAdvisor reviews. Hatch Chiles are grown in the Hatch Valley and not widely distributed outside of New Mexico. They are everywhere in Santa Fe. They are often served roasted, smoky and mellowed, much like the Ortega green chiles I’m familiar with in California.
That chile-infused margarita, ordered on a whim, was so good that I ordered another, which was one more than I generally drink in an evening but something I only regretted slightly in the morning.
When I returned home I wanted to make my own version so I read up on infused and spiced drinks. I discovered that there are two ways flavors are added to a concoction. Most often, the alcohol is infused with the flavoring. Stoli Vanilla Vodka is a common commercial example. This is how the Santa Fe margarita was made. It is simple enough. Just add the flavoring agent - roasted chiles in this case - to a bottle of alcohol and let it sit for a while. For best results, let it sit for a couple of months.
I tried infusing a bottle of tequila with roasted Padron peppers late that fall, but by the time the bottle was ready to use I had fallen pregnant. The peppers had turned the alcohol the most gorgeous stormy grey, but even the smell turned my stomach and I gave the bottle away to someone who would appreciate it. Margaritas didn’t figure in my life for quite a while after that.
Last spring I was again reminded about spicy cocktails when I saw a photo of this Spicy Grapefruit Margarita in Ali Edward’s Instagram feed. This recipe uses the other infusion method - flavoring the simple syrup. This method is faster. Just simmer the seasoning in the sugar water and it is ready to use. I got as far as making a jar of the infused simple syrup but the very next day I found out I was pregnant again.
Sometimes I’m sure the universe is conspiring against me.
Another whole year has passed and I’m determined to make my own spicy drink at home!
Success. And delicious. This drink will be on rotation in this house this summer for sure!
I tripled the proportions for the simple syrup from the original recipe to make enough to store in the fridge for quicker drink-making. I went with the 1/4 tsp suggestion for cayenne, which gave just enough heat and flavor, but is not overwhelming. Warming, but not really hot. You could add more if you prefer truly spicy.
I halved the rest of the recipe to make a single drink - her proportions will make two. Make sure to shake the ingredients with a lot of ice to get them nice and cold and blended well. I prefer the mellower aged flavor of reposada tequila so that’s what I buy, but I really don’t think it matters for this drink.
I did try her suggestion to use rubbing spices for the rim and it was delicious. I’m going to try smoked paprika with salt next time.
My man, who eats every meal with a fork in one hand and a bottle of Sriracha sauce in the other, doesn’t like hot flavors in his cocktails. It was easy enough to make his drink plain by just using non-infused simple syrup in his glass and plain salt on the rim.
I’m officially a spicy drink convert. Once we hit the cooler months, I’m going to try this Chai Honey Old Fashioned. I like to drink the brown alcohols in the cooler months.
Doña Bumgarner is a writer, artist, mama and a craft project-collector from way back. She loves Pinterest and uses it to help solve a household dilemma at least once a week (see her “pinned and done” board). She lives in Santa Cruz with her partner, their little one and his almost grown one, and a collection of cats and chickens. If you are needing extra support to ease into summer with the kids at home, find her Welcome To Summer resources and printables pack here. You can also connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, as well as on Pinterest, of course.