Kids are almost done with school, Father’s Day is this weekend, and it’s finally starting to feel like summertime in NY. I thought it would be a good time to share one of our favorite summer drinks – courtesy of Ina Garten and my husband Brad - Jalapeño Margaritas. Brad loves spicy food. Loves it. So years ago, when I first got my hands on Ina’s Make It Ahead cookbook, I was thrilled to find her Jalapeño Margaritas recipe. I knew they would become a staple in our house. Brad is our master margarita maker and this recipe combined two of his favorite things – margaritas and spice!
I’ve always loved margaritas but I found that when I ordered them at restaurants, they tended to be too sweet for my taste - I’m not a fan of sweet drinks. So Brad started to make them at home and, over the years, he really did perfect them. When this recipe with the added heat came into our lives, it was a match made in tequila heaven. They are a perfect mix of sweet and spicy. After a few years of making these, Brad changed the recipe to give it a bit more kick. We may not love sweet, but we do love spicy!
Somewhere along the line, he also switched out Triple Sec (from Ina's recipe) for Cointreau. It’s less sweet than Triple Sec, but it does have a higher alcohol content – so something to beware of. To really make them his own, Brad added orange juice instead of the combo of lemon juice and honey. Now we have two different Jalapeño Margarita recipes that we love, Ina’s tried and true and Brad's spicy concoction with Cointreau.
Here’s Brad’s method. He cuts three jalapeños in half lengthwise and soaks them (with their seeds) in a 750 ml bottle of tequila for 1.5 hours (we like Patron Silver). He sets a timer – the longer you soak, the spicier the flavor. After many mixology sessions, he’s found 1.5 hours to gives a perfect flavor with heat. While the peppers are soaking, he juices the oranges and limes and preps the salt and garnishes – good time management right there! Then, he pours the tequila into a pitcher through a strainer to remove the seeds. In Ina’s recipe, you can make a batch of margaritas to chill for up to 6 hours but Brad prepares each drink, one at time, like this:
1.5 ounces tequila
1 ounce Cointreau
1 ounces fresh lime juice
Tbsp fresh orange juice
Shake with ice and salt the rim of the glass, if want salted. (Use lime wedge to rim glass so salt will stick.)
Our neighborhood hosts a rotating dinner party (some people call it a progressive dinner party). You go from house to house and enjoy a different course or part of the meal at each stop. Last year we were house #2 – drinks and appetizers – so we made risotto and the Jalapeño Margaritas. I’m not sure anyone remembers the risotto but people are still talking about Brad’s margaritas!
Maybe we will whip up a batch this Father’s Day weekend to celebrate!
Ina Garten's Jalapeño Margarita
1 small jalapeño pepper (or half a large jalapeño)
1½ cups blanco or silver tequila, such as Avión
1 cup Triple Sec
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (8 limes)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons honey
Pinch of kosher salt
Pierce the jalapeño pepper in 8 to 10 places with the tip of a sharp paring knife and cut it in half lengthwise, leaving the seeds and the ribs. Place the pepper in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup, pour in the tequila, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
Discard the jalapeño and pour the tequila into a pitcher through a sieve to remove the seeds. Add the Triple Sec, lime juice, lemon juice, honey and salt. Stir and use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
When ready to serve, fill six margarita glasses with ice and pour over the margarita mixture; or fill a cocktail shaker with ice and some of the mixture, shake vigorously for 30 seconds, and pour into glasses. Serve ice cold.