Move over spritzers, the spicy marg is making its mark this summer, adding a hot jalapeño kick and cool cucumber lick to Mexico’s most famous export.
Any home mixologist worth their salt (rim) needs a spicy marg in their repertoire. To celebrate World Margarita Day on February 22, try this timeless reinvention of the classic marg that will kick off any fiesta. Margaritas traditionally combine tequila, triple sec orange liqueur and lime juice, but some slivers of jalapeño crank up the heat in this savoury spin that offers an appropriate homage to the 1930s or 1940s inventor of the drink (a point of contention we investigate below!) But first, to the mixing…
Ingredients (Serves 1)
2 baby cucumbers or ½ small cucumber
2 mint sprigs
60mL lime juice
40mL Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila
20mL Cointreau liqueur
1 small jalapeño chilli, thinly sliced
1 tbs sea salt flakes
1 lime wedge
Ice cubes, to serve
1. Place the cucumber in a blender with 1 mint sprig, lime juice, tequila and Cointreau, and blend until smooth. Strain into a small jug. Add a few chilli slices and stir to combine.
2. Spread salt over a small plate. Run the lime wedge around the rim of a serving glass and dip in salt to coat. Fill with ice. Pour the margarita into the glass. Garnish with remaining mint and extra chilli.
Every summer needs a signature special drink, and this year you’d be mad not to follow those in-the-know who have declared the spicy margarita the drink of our times. Just as we long ago shelved our grandparents’ (over-boiled) meat-and-three-veg weeknight meals, our drinks palates are begging for elevated flavours. No need to crack a sweat with vigorous cocktail shaking, this recipe utilises a blender to really blitz those flavours into shape. A quick strain, stir and splash of sliced chillies, and you’ve got yourself a crowd pleaser for those who can take the heat.
It’d be nice to be able to pay appropriate homage to the inventors of the margarita, widely regarded as the ultimate combination of sweet, salty, sour and bitter – but it’s not that simple with many people vying for that historic title. In one tale, Mexican restaurateur Carlos “Danny” Herrera is said to have whipped up the drink for aspiring actress Marjorie King who was allergic to any hard liquor save tequila. He reportedly added Cointreau to the ingredients of a traditional tequila shot – tequila, salt and lime – to make the fresh cocktail we all know and love today. Another version suggests the drink was born as a tribute to actress Rita Hayworth (birth name Margarita), and then there’s socialite Margarita Sames, who claims to have served the mix at her Acapulco holiday home in the late 1940s to her friend Tommy Hilton, who enjoyed it so much he added it to his hotel chain’s bar menu.
Made from the highest quality blue agave, award-winning Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila is a favourite of bartenders the world over. Smooth when served neat and a go-to margarita staple, expect a sweet, citrussy taste with equal hints of lime, lemon and agave. Hailing from the mid 1800s in France, syrupy Cointreau Liqueur is as popular today as it ever was, thanks largely to our everlasting infatuation with the margie. The Cointreau recipe might remain top secret, but one thing is for certain – it leans heavily on dried orange peel to create the fresh, floral finish that’s as comfortable in a cocktail as it is in a crumble tart dessert.