How To Make The Ultimate Spicy Margarita, According To An Expert

As summer's swelter begins to grow, the mind wanders to food and drink that can help alleviate the heat. Now, if you're of a certain age, that list may include bright, refreshing libations, such as a cold, citrusy margarita. We highly recommend (responsibly) indulging that thought and even leaning into the heat with a spicy margarita. Recently, Tasting Table spoke with cocktail expert Lex Madden, bar manager at Point Easy in Denver, Colorado, who gave us some pointers on how to kick your margarita up a few notches on the Scoville scale while keeping things as delicious as can be.

"I prefer to muddle fresh chilis in spicy margaritas over using a spicy mix or hot sauce–the vegetal note of fresh chilis pairs perfectly with tequila, and helps to balance the drink so that it's not just spicy without great flavor," says Madden. "Jalapeños are my favorite for mildly spicy margaritas, but I love using habaneros when I really want a kick."

Macerate for deeper flavor

Muddling is great for when you want a spicy margarita straight away. If, however, you have a little more time on your hands, Madden has another suggestion for building a truly deep spicy flavor. She infuses the tequila for her margaritas with chilis, using about one to two peppers per 750-milliliter bottle of the spirit. Simply give the chilis a rough chop and add them straight to the bottle or another vessel and allow the them to macerate in the tequila for 12 to 24 hours. This technique is also helpful when you know you're going to be making a large batch of margaritas, say for a backyard barbecue.

Of course, choosing the right type of tequila is key. Thankfully, Madden has given us some direction in this regard too. When she is making a spicy margarita, she reaches for a blanco or silver tequila, which, she explains, have their own "peppery notes" that go exceptionally well with chilies.

Now that you've got the basics down, feel free to play around with various margarita recipes, adding in whatever chilies you like or have available and experimenting with the multitude of tequilas available. Because, if you can't beat the summer heat, you might as well join it.