by Andrew Yenne, photos by Sam Henderson
April showers may bring May flowers, but this month also hearkens in a favorite time of year for me; patio cocktail season. The air is fresh and full of flowers, the smell of cut grass begins to make its first appearance, and people flock outdoors to bask in the warm sunlight and sip perfectly crafted cocktails.
What better way to celebrate this month of freshness than with an equally fresh Cocktail of the Month? The Jalapeño Cilantro Margarita.
Ah yes, the Margarita. A criminally misunderstood cocktail, much like the daiquiri (more to come on this in future posts), this poor drink has been twisted (and blended, gasp!) into a sweet, syrupy, hangover inducing frozen concoction, that barely resembles what it should be; a perfectly balanced cocktail of citrusy bite and subtle sweetness. The Jalapeno Cilantro Margarita goes back to the basics, with a fresh twist, adding cool herbal flavors of fresh cilantro with the garden fresh earthiness of fresh jalapeño.
savour... a fresh twist
Before you start:
Always measure your pours for a perfect balance!
This is a subtly sweet, citrusy cocktail full of fresh indigents, no pre made bottle syrups that sound like they belong in a Chinese takeout order.
You will need some fresh Cilantro Simple Syrup. This is easy to make if you have ever made simple syrup before. You will just need to infuse the basic recipe with fresh cilantro.
Cilantro Simple Syrup Recipe:
Combine equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan. I use a cup of each. Bring to a slow boil while continuously stirring until all sugar has dissolved. Add a cup of fresh cilantro just as the water begins to boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Let cool and bottle. This should keep in your fridge for about a month or so.
You will also need a fresh jalapeno cut into thin ½ inch strips(remove pith and seeds), limes, a hand juicer, a cocktail shaker, plenty of ice and of course tequila.
Yes tequila, the elephant in the room. Tequila gets a bad rap, much like gin in or last cocktail post. You get what you put in. Good tequila makes a good drink; bad tequila makes a bad headache. For this drink we will use both a Reposado Tequila and a Blanco Tequila. Reposado literally means rested. This amber tequila has been aged at least 2 months in oak barrels but no more than 1 year. It is smoother sweeter tequila as it takes on notes from the oak. Blanco literally means white (white for bite!), sometimes called silver, this unaged spirit gives the traditional tequila bite, with more agave flavors upfront. I prefer to use El Jimador brand tequila http://www.eljimador.com , as it is budget friendly but still smooth and 100% agave.
- ½ oz cilantro syrup (see above)
- juice of 1 small lime (1oz)
- 1oz Blanco tequila
- 1 oz Reposado tequila
- fresh jalapeño strips
Use reserved ½ lime shell as a lime boat. With toothpick secure 2 jalapeno strips to inside of lime boat. Add sprig of fresh cilantro.
- Fill cocktail shaker full of ice.
- Juice your small lime (1oz) into the cocktail shaker (Reserve 1 lime shell for garnish).
- Add 1/2 oz Cilantro syrup to the shaker.
- Pour 1oz Reposado tequila into shaker.
- Pour 1oz Blanco tequila into shaker.
- Add 4 ½ inch jalapeno strips to shaker.
- Shake vigorously 20 seconds, or until shaker becomes too cold to hold.
- Empty entire contents of shaker into lowball glass.
- Add garnish.
- Savour patio season.
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