There is only so much snow that a person should have to face sober. Which is perhaps why National Margarita Day is February 22—and why you shouldn’t wait until it’s porch-sitting weather to throw a few ounces of tequila (and maybe a lime or two) in a glass.
The ultimate margarita has only a few ingredients, and sour mix is not one of them. “To me those sour mix margaritas taste overly sweet and overly processed,” says chef Marilyn Schlossbach, owner of several margarita-serving Jersey Shore restaurants. Heat—however—is a key ingredient. When paired with smoky, aged tequila—or even mezcal, tequila’s sultry, husky-voiced stepsister—the slow singe of capsaicin adds a winter-melting spice.
For many years, a pineapple jalapeño margarita was a staple on Schlossbach’s bar menus. She took it off in an attempt to add some new items, but constant requests from bar patrons prompted her to add a new, similar cocktail. It’s a straightforward, lime-based drink, laced with ghost peppers. Drink a few of these and you’ll be convinced it’s bikini-weather, even if it’s anything but.
Serves 6 (or three, in the event that it is February and you’ve forgotten what your house looks like without snow covering it)
- 9 oz reposado (that’s a tequila that’s been aged between 2-12 months) tequila
- 6 oz fresh lime juice (yes, limes are out of season in all but Florida right now, but don’t you dare use that bottled stuff)
- 6 oz agave nectar
- 12 oz hot water
- 8 oz water
- Handful of ghost peppers, diced (If you’re afraid of the heat, take out the seeds—but really, if you’re afraid of the heat, this isn’t the drink for you)
For the Margarita Mix:
Mix fresh lime juice, agave nectar and 12 ounces of hot water into a pitcher; let cool.
For the Ghost Pepper Puree:
Wearing gloves and goggles, add diced ghost peppers to a blender or food processor. Blend the peppers, slowly adding eight ounces of water to create a smooth puree. The mixture should be thin enough that you can drip it through an eyedropper. Empty contents into a separate container.
1. Add the tequila to your homemade margarita mix.
2. Using an eye dropper, add 10-12 drops of ghost pepper puree. Stir well. (You’ll have extra puree to save for a later party.)
3. Salt the rims of six glasses. (Skip this step if you’re not a salt-lover.) Fill glasses with ice and then with the margarita mixture.
4. Depending on the spice preference, allow guests to add more drops of the ghost pepper puree—but be careful, add too much and it will practically singe your nose hairs on the way down.