Although I try to follow a healthy diet most of the time, there are occasions that call for a little less restriction. After all, it can be healthy to imbibe in moderation. Research has shown that drinking wine, beer and even liquor may host a myriad of health benefits. Everything from helping memory and shedding weight to preventing heart disease and cancer has been linked to alcohol consumption. Of course all of these claims are still up for debate and require further research to be proven true. Bear in mind also that moderation is key. Women should aim for one drink a day and men should limit it to two daily. Any more than that and you’re negating any benefits you may have been hoping for. Having said that, I’ll admit one of my weaknesses is limiting myself to one drink. I don’t worry too much about it though. Sometimes it’s healthier to truly enjoy an occasional indulgence rather than stress over your dietary decisions.
The following recipe was inspired by a combination of Caribbean bar drinks. I always gravitate towards anything spicy on menus, including drinks. One bar’s specialty is the jalapeno margarita. I thought I could recreate it at home using one of my favorite local ingredients, the Scotch bonnet pepper. At first, I added muddled minced pepper right to the drink, just like the bar does. The flavor was right, but I didn’t care for having little bits of pepper in my drink. So I took another bar’s spicy specialty, a bloody mary made with pepper infused vodka, and applied that idea to my recipe. Infusing the tequila with hot peppers for a few hours before adding it to your drink gives just the right amount of kick without having to use your teeth to strain out the bits. If Scotch bonnets are too spicy for your taste, you can use jalapeno.
In lieu of store-bought margarita mix, which is laden with sugar and preservatives, keep it simple. All you need is tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice and ice in a salted glass. I like to balance it all with a pinch of stevia. Feel free to use a different sweetener or none at all if it suits your tastes. Because the ingredients are so simple, be sure to use a good quality silver tequila made from blue agave. The tequila recipe makes 1 cup and the margarita recipe makes 1 cocktail. The ingredients can easily be multiplied for larger quantities. Cheers!
Spicy Margarita made with Scotch Bonnet Infused Tequila
- 1.5 oz Scotch bonnet pepper infused tequila, recipe follows
- 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 oz triple sec (I used Cointreau)
- pinch of powdered stevia or a drop of liquid stevia
- salt, for rimming glass
- lime wedges, for garnish if desired
Prepare a cocktail glass by rubbing a lime wedge around the rim, then dip the rim in salt. Put aside. Combine the tequila, lime juice, triple sec & stevia in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds or until everything is combined & chilled through. Pour into prepared glass filled with ice and garnish with a lime wedge before serving.
Scotch Bonnet Infused Tequila
- 1 Cup silver tequila (I used Jose Cuervo Especial)
- 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded & chopped (use jalapeno if desired)
Other items needed
- 2 mason jars or empty glass bottles with lids, one for steeping and one for straining into & storing
- fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- funnel, if using bottles with narrow openings
Combine tequila and pepper in a glass container. Set aside to let the pepper’s oils infuse the tequila. Check periodically to test the spiciness and adjust the steeping time to your liking. I let mine sit for 3 hours. Pour through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a separate sealable glass container, using a funnel if necessary. Discard pepper pieces. Store tequila in sealed glass container in refrigerator.