I’m no bartender and nor will I ever claim otherwise. With over six years in the service industry, the closest this girl ever came to tending bar was pouring beers and mixing up the occasional Rum and Coke. Yet, oddly enough, I often find myself playing cocktail "concocter" when my friends are feeling particularly thirsty.
Maybe it’s my way of feeling less guilty for having a drink in my own hand. Or perhaps this voluntary duty is just caused by my love for big smiles and loud laughter all around. Whatever the reason, I’m generally shaking up a clear mood inhibitor along with Sprite, water or whatever else is sitting in the fridge. With an exception of the sporadic Sangria batch, I rarely get fancy in the name of booze.
Having no official knack for creating unique and luscious libations, I decided it was long overdue that I dig deep into my noggin’s ingredient database for a combo that’d scream Cinco De Mayo celebrations. A margarita would be the clear choice for the Mexican holiday that has doubled as a day for Americans to consume large quantities of tequila and tortillas.
But I couldn't just make any Margarita. What’d be the fun in that? Remembering that my favorite tequila and triple sec mixtures include fresh, sweet strawberries, I knew where I’d start. Still, I needed an interesting twist. A certified heat-seeker and cilantro fanatic, I had a plan. My deepest apologies cilantro haters, you may substitute with basil. Enter: Spicy Strawberry and Cilantro Margarita.
Spicy Strawberry and Cilantro Margarita
8 ounces of your favorite silver Tequila (I'm a big fan of 1800)
6 ounces Triple Sec
3 cups strawberries, sliced (I supported a local berry farmer and purchased
4 tablespoons cilantro (plus 4 sprigs for garnishing)
1 whole, fresh jalapeno, sliced (plus 1 additional sliced jalapeno for garnishing)
Juice from 3 limes
1 additional lime, cut in wedges
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup water
Large ice cubes
1) Combine strawberries, water and sugar into a saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until strawberries are reduced and mixture is thick. Pour into a glass or ceramic dish and let cool in the refrigerator for about 25 minutes.
2) Using a mortar and pestle (or a ceramic bowl and wooden spoon), muddle the cilantro, jalapeno and lime wedges.
3) Spoon (and "scrape") up half of your muddled mixture and add to a tumbler/shaker. Then add half of the strawberry "syrup" along with half of your lime juice, 4 ounces Tequila, 3 ounces Triple Sec, and a big handful of ice.
4) Give it a solid 20 second shake.
5) With a lime wedge, "wet" the rims of two glasses. Flip each glass over onto a small pile of kosher salt (or sugar) to coat the rims. Add ice to each glass.
6) Strain the margarita mixture into each glass. (I opted to spoon some of the strawberry syrup and remnants into the glasses as well )
7) Garnish with a few jalapeno slices (if you want extra heat) one strawberry (sliced 3/4 lengthwise) and a cilantro sprig. Enjoy!
***Repeat Steps #3-7 for 2 more drinks. Recipe serves 4***
Do yourself a favor and ditch the margarita "pre-mix" this 5th of May. You will be thankful you spent a few extra minutes making this tasty treat that'll certainly be well received by all of your friends. Cheers!!!!