Today’s drink comes straight from a private party I worked this weekend, and uses one of my favorite tricks — a jalapeño tequila, made by steeping the liquor with a sliced-up pepper for a few days. We might be hitting the end of the summer, but a shot of jalapeño tequila will make you feel like you’ve hit the middle of July, no matter what the calendar says. This recipe is one of the easiest infusions I’ve ever worked with, and only requires one pepper to transform a bottle of tequila into a singular taste experience.
So what to mix it with? This recipe stirs the spicy tequila in with St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur that’s complex and sweet, with a citrusy finish. The St. Germain provides a decent counterpoint to the jalapeño tequila, providing for a decent cocktail overall. (The drink follows the basic 2-1 ratio most of our mixed drinks follow, altering the main liquor with a smaller pour of the more flavorful liqueur.)
The small pour of lime juice might seem like it wouldn’t quite fit with the rest of the recipe, but lime is a surprisingly powerful flavor, and we don’t need a lot to complete the drink. A splash of grapefruit juice makes the whole thing come together – - and while the cocktail might seem somewhat short, it is a full drink, and as long as it’s shaken together with a decent quantity of ice, it’ll produce a normal-sized cocktail. One sip will convince you this cocktail isn’t devoid of flavor. You can thin out the mix with an ounce or so of sparkling water or orange juice without losing much of the spicy heart of this drink.
Hothouse Flower Margarita
- 1 oz. jalapeño-infused tequila
- 1/2 oz St. Germain liqueur
- 1/2 oz. (1/2 lime’s worth) fresh lime juice
- 1 splash (1/2 oz.) fresh grapefruit juice)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail tin; shake to combine. Strain over ice in a highball glass, and serve with a lime garnish. Salt rim, if desired.
To make jalapeño-infused tequila: Combine one 750 ml. bottle tequila with one large (3-inch, or finger-sized) jalapeño, sliced into 1/4 inch segments. Let steep for 3-5 days, pressing pepper slices every day with a large spoon. Pour tequila off jalapeño slices. Jalapeño tequila will keep indefinitely. Alternately, add 1 sliced jalapeño to a mostly full bottle of tequila, and let it sit for at least 1 week.