Guys. Do you know what day it is?
IT’S NATIONAL MARGARITA DAY!
In celebration, I want to share this Spicy Jalapeno Pineapple Margarita recipe with you.
It’s hard to explain why this is so exciting to me. Margaritas are a bit of a big deal in our household. The perfect margarita is both sweet and sour, balanced beautifully with a rim of crunchy salt. You can just taste the tequila on the tip of your tongue and the back of your throat – the flavor as well as the burn. One should never quite be enough. We don’t make them so much lately, but I can remember when I was still working a full-time job, coming home late and exhausted after my commute from the city. Many nights I could count on a frosty margarita from my husband Sam, ready and waiting just when I needed it. Few things are better than that.
Do you have a favorite tequila for margaritas? Margarita and taco nights used to be a pretty regular thing in our house, and there was a time some years back when I regularly devoured happy-hour margaritas in inexpensive but delicious taco joints. Sam did a little research at some point that suggested 1800 Tequila Reposado and Cointreau as ideal components for standard margaritas, so our bar is always stocked up on those. You know how it is – once you find a brand of liquor you like it’s easy to just stick with it. No complaints thus far, that’s for sure. What do you love to use?
For this Spicy Jalapeno Pineapple Margarita recipe, I opted for 1800 Silver as a nice, clean balance with the pineapple juice. If all you have is a darker variety, don’t let that stop you from trying the recipe. I’m sure it will still be delicious!
The “trick” of this cocktail is a Jalapeno-Infused Simple Syrup, and it really is simple to make. As I described in this post, you’ll want a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water for a basic simple syrup. The addition of sliced up jalapenos to the pot will infuse the syrup with some heat. The left-over pepper slices can then double as spicy garnishes for your drinks.
The total yield of syrup can vary, depending on how long it cooks and how much water evaporates, but the recipe below (calling for ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water) should make enough for four to five of these Jalapeno Pineapple Margaritas. To keep the seeds out of your drink, strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve into a measuring cup, and allow it to cool on the counter before transferring it into a swing-top bottle or mason jar for storage. Feel free to double or triple the recipe to make more syrup, especially since it will keep in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks.
I got the idea to try this recipe due to all the extra syrup I have from making these Candied Jalapeno Slices. If you made them too, you likely have some syrup left over. You can absolutely substitute that spicy-sweet syrup in this drink, but be warned – the Candied Jalapeno Syrup is much more robust than the light syrup I detail below. It will have a stronger kick due to the extra spices, as well as an acidic bite from the vinegar. For me, the flavor was a little too strong, but I know the spice fans out there will love it. If you go this route, I suggest tasting the drink, and possibly balancing it out with a fourth ounce of pineapple juice. I hope the adventurous out there will give it a try – if you do, let me know what you think!
If, like me, you prefer a more subtle kick to your cocktail, the Jalapeno-Infused Simple Syrup described here really is delectable.
Last but not least, a salt rim is a necessity. I’ve tried several techniques to secure salt to a glass over the years. My favorite way is to use a wedge of fresh lime: Slice it along the center like you would to garnish the glass, and then slide the cut around the rim, leaving a nice thick coating of lime juice. Add a tablespoon or two of coarse sea salt to a plate, and rotate the glass in it for an even distribution of salt. Super easy.
Finish the Spicy Jalapeno Pineapple Margarita off with some hunks of fresh pineapple and the just-crisp jalapeno slices leftover from making your simple syrup. Perfection.
Oh, and bonus note: the leftover jalapeno slices and chopped-up pineapple make a great salsa for the tacos you will inevitably want to make yourself after crafting this cocktail. Just add a pinch of salt and cilantro, maybe a dash of the Jalapeno-Infused Simple Syrup, and dive in. You won’t regret it.
Spicy Jalapeno Pineapple Margarita
- 2 ounces silver tequila
- 1 ounce lime juice
- 3 ounces pineapple juice
- 1/2 ounce jalapeno-infused simple syrup (recipe below)
- Course sea salt, for rimming the glass
- Fresh pineapple wedges and candied jalapeno slices, for garnish
Prepare glass with a salt rim and garnish with a pineapple wedge and one or two jalapeno slices. Combine tequila, fruit juices, and syrup in a cocktail shaker, adding two ice cubes. Shake well, until shaker is frosty. Pour into prepared glass and enjoy!
Shake It Up! Remember to shake your pineapple juice well before using - otherwise it might separate, and won't be nearly as tasty.
Double It! While the recipe above is written for one drink, a standard-sized shaker is just big enough to fit two of these cocktails. Feel free to double the recipe and make one for you and one for a friend at the same time.
Jalapeno-Infused Simple Syrup
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 whole jalapenos, sliced into disks (about 3 ounces)
Combine water and sugar in a saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the syrup looks clear, add the jalapeno slices, discarding the stem ends. Bring to a boil, and cook hard for 12-15 minutes to infuse the simple syrup with the oils from the jalapeno.
Remove from heat, and transfer the syrup to a heat-safe measuring cup or bowl. When cooled to room temperature, pour through a fine mesh sieve to remove the jalapeno slices and seeds and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Reserve the lightly candied jalapeno slices for drink garnishes and to use as a delicious addition to salsas or salads.
The heat of jalapenos can vary, and this syrup is meant to just have a hint of spice. For stronger jalapeno flavor and a thicker syrup, increase the reduction time of the syrup. Be careful not to add too much time though, as this might result in caramelization of the syrup.
Special thanks to my good friend Charna, without whom this recipe would have been a challenge. She made the several hour trek out to visit, and wound up helping me taste-test and photograph these margaritas. I’m always grateful for friends coming out to help me with recipes!