Seasonal Spotlight - Celebrating Cinco de Mayo With Cool Cocktails

Don’t be afraid to spice up your ‘rita with a pinch of rosemary or cilantro, or a little jalapeño or habanero chile. But remember, less is more when it comes to herbs and hot peppers. I make a great tequila infusion using the serrano pepper in blanco tequila.

To bring balance to the drink, you’ll need a sweet element, whether it’s simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water) or organic agave nectar. Mix agave nectar with equal parts water to dilute it (too think to pour otherwise and create an agave syrup). Citrus liqueurs like Cointreau and Grand Marnier also sweeten things nicely, but also look out for elderflower liqueur, watermelon liqueur or apricot liqueur.

With any good Margarita, there is a harmony among the alcohol, the citrus and the sweet flavors, so keep on tasting until you get it just right!

On Cinco de Mayo, there are three things you are pretty much guaranteed: tequila shots, mariachis and Margaritas. I have nothing against this holy trinity,but try shaking things up for the annual tradition this year.

Here are some of my tequila-based cocktails to enjoy at your Casa or favorite watering hole. They aren’t your typical Maragritas or Cinco de Mayo drinks, but let’s get creative and try something different. If you enjoy being in the kitchen and have time, mix up these crowd pleasers - 

 

Grilled Pineapple Jalapeno Margarita

This pineapple and jalapeño twist brings a sweet, smoky and spicy element to the classic. Bonus: After infusing your tequila with jalapeño, feel free to use it with all of your tequila favorites.

 

For the Jalapeno Infused Tequila

  • ·        1 cup silver tequila
  • ·        1 jalapeno, sliced into rings

 

For the Cocktail

  •  1½ oz. jalapeno infused tequila
  •  ½ oz. triple sec
  • 2 one-inch thick slice of grilled pineapple, chilled
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • 2 tbsp agave, to taste
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Crushed ice
  • Grilled pineapple and lime wedges for garnish
  • Kosher salt (optional), for rimming your glass

 

Jalapeno Infused Tequila

1.     Add the tequila and jalapeno to a clean, lidded container. Shake to combine and allow the flavors to meld for 12-24 hours, depending on how spicy you'd like it. Once the flavor has developed to your liking, strain the jalapenos and discard.

2.     The tequila will keep for up to 1 year. I like to store mine in the freezer.

 

Cocktail

1.     Cut your pineapple into 1 inch thick rings, discarding the rind and removing the core.

2.     Preheat your grill to medium-high and oil it lightly. Grill your pineapple for 4-5 minutes on each side, until you get nice grill marks and it begins to soften slightly.

3.     Place the grilled pieces in a bowl and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator.

4.     Add the jalapeno infused tequila, triple sec, 2 slices of the grilled and chilled pineapple (and any juices that have accumulated in the bowl), lime juice, agave, vanilla extract and water to the blender. Blend until smooth, then strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the pulp from the pineapple.

5.     To salt the rim, run a lime slice or pineapple wedge around the lip of your glass and dip into salt to cover.

6.     Add crushed ice to your glass, pour in your margarita mixture, and garnish with extra grilled pineapple or lime wedges.

 

 

Mexican Mule

  • ·2 oz tequila
  • ·2 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  •  Ginger beer
  • Simple syrup or agave to taste,  if desired

Prep - Add the tequila and grapefruit juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and then strain into a highball or rocks glass. Add ice to the glass and then top off with ginger beer. Add simple syrup or agave if needed.

 

The Firecracker

  • 2 oz Prairie Cucumber Vodka
  • 2 cubes or scoops of seedless watermelon
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup (boil 1/4 cup water and sugar just until sugar dissolves. Add 1/4 cup ice to cool - refrigerate leftovers)
  • Lime Rim (equal amounts salt and sugar combined with some fresh grated lime)
  • 1 watermelon slice
  • 1 cucumber slice
  • 1 mint sprig

Prep - Combine vodka, watermelon simple syrup, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Muddle all ingredients well. Add ice and shake until ice cold. Rim the glasses with a cut lime and dip in the lime rim mixture. Fill the glass with ice and pour the ingredients from the shaker into the glass. Garnish with a watermelon slice, a cucumber slice and a mint sprig.

 

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