I loooooove me a good margarita.
In the warmer months, it is absolutely my go-to cocktail. I crave them year round, but as soon as the temperatures start pushing 80 degrees, it’s almost all I can think about. Well, that and super-chilled white or rose wine.
Margaritas hold a special place in my heart. They are the perfect mix of flavors for me. Sweet, salty, a bit savory, tangy, and citrusy. I don’t think I’ve ever met a margarita I didn’t like. My favorite go to is a mix of white tequila, Grand Marnier, a drizzle of agave nectar or honey, and loads of fresh lime juice. Always on the rocks. Always with a sugar-salt rim. Usually with a side of chips and salsa. It comes together quickly and easily, and it doesn’t involve making a simple syrup (thanks to the natural sweeteners I keep stocked in my pantry).
Every now and then, though, I get in the mood for something more complex. Something with a little more pizzazz. The strawberries at the store have been to die for lately, so I’ve been stocking up every week (plus, my kid adores them). When Kate from ¡Hola! Jalapeño reached out about Margarita Week, not only was this margarita freak pumped, but I also knew instantly what I wanted to contribute to the round up: a margarita focused on the incredible strawberries we’ve been enjoying. The rest is history!
It all starts with a spicy, jalapeño-infused strawberry simple syrup. It’s the flavor base for the entire drink. Sweet, syrupy, and a tad spicy. I love using jalapeños because they add a nice peppery flavor without being too hot. Plus, they are generally inexpensive and easy to find!
The spicy strawberry syrup gets mixed with gold tequila, fresh lime juice, orange liqueur, and a pinch of chipotle chile powder. Now, that last addition is completely optional, but I really encourage it! It adds a smoky layer to things, on top of increasing the spice factor just a touch. I tested this recipe both with and without the chile powder, and I have to say, I definitely prefer it with! It plays off the tequila nicely and, believe it or not, sort of mellows and balances everything out.
Because I loved the effect of the chile in the drink so much, I decided to do a smoky rim on the glasses that also highlights the flavor. I prefer a combo of sugar and salt on almost all my margarita rims, so that’s what I did here, except I used a smoked sea salt and pinch of that chipotle chile powder.
The results? MAGICAL! Ugh, so, so good. It sets the drink up beautifully, as it is the very first thing you taste. Salty, sweet, and smoky. A trifecta of awesomeness.
These margaritas, along with this stunning list of options put together by Kate and the contributors, belong on your Cinco de Mayo table! They are delicious, festive, fun, and slightly unique.
Just how I like my drinks.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1½ cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 jalapeño pepper, halved
1 lime, halved
1 tablespoon smoked sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Juice of 2 limes
3 oz of the strawberry syrup (or more, to taste)
¼ cup gold tequila
¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
2 tablespoons orange liqueur (triple sec or Grand Marnier)
2 fresh strawberries, sliced, for garnish
2 thin slices of jalapeño pepper, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish
Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook for a few minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the berries and jalapeño pepper and remove the pan from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
Remove the pepper from the syrup and discard. Pour the remaining mixture into a blender and blend until completely smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl or container and pour the puree through the strainer into the bowl.
Cover and chill the syrup until you are ready to use it.
Run the halved lime around the edges of two chilled glasses (save the lime for the drinks).
In a shallow bowl or plate, mix together the salt, sugar, and chili powder. Dip the rims of the glasses into the salt mixture and turn to evenly coat.
Add the lime juice, strawberry syrup, tequila, chile powder, and liqueur to a shaker filled with ice. Fill the glasses with ice.
Shake vigorously for a few seconds to thoroughly mix together the ingredients. Taste and add more of the strawberry syrup, as needed. Divide the mixture between the two glasses and garnish each with a lime wedge, some sliced strawberries, and a jalapeño slice. Serve immediately.