There’s no reason to forgo spicy drinks just because it’s hot as balls outside. In fact, something about a cocktail with a little heat feels just right in sweltering weather—the way hot chocolate goes down smoother when it’s spiked with Peppermint Schnapps in winter. Think of the heat in your glass as a shake of the fist to the sweat dripping from your brow.
Which brings us to the grapefruit habanero margarita we had this past weekend at Brooklyn’s Mesa Coyoacan. It delivers a slow-burning tingle tempered by the juice of fresh lime and grapefruit. It’s refreshing and satisfying, like a well-made margarita should be, but it also awakens the senses, which is exactly what you need in this deadening July heat.
To pull off a drink like this, you’re gonna need a habanero-infused tequila. And while there are pre-infused tequilas out there, the infusing process is nothing you can’t do yourself. Slice three habaneros in half (you can add more to taste, but three is a good place to start), and remove all seeds. Drop the peppers in a bottle of reposado tequila (the folks at Mesa Coyoacan dig Milagro’s) and let them soak for at least six hours. When the tequila is spicy enough, strain the peppers and start mixing.
Margarita Toronja Habanero from Mesa Coyoacan
2 oz. habanero-infused tequila reposado
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
¾ oz. simple syrup
Splash of Cointreau or other orange liqueur
Fresh grapefruit juice
• Fill a twelve-ounce margarita glass with ice.
• Add the habanero-infused tequila, fresh lime juice, syrup, and a splash of orange liqueur.
• Fill to the brim with fresh grapefruit juice.
• Shake well.
• Rim glass with some brown sugar and salt.
• Pour into glass and serve immediately.
— Andrew Richdale
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