Drinks

Spice Up Your Cocktails with Homemade Jalapeño Tequila

Add some heat to that margarita or Paloma
How to Make Jalapeño Tequila
Photo: Tasting Table

Spicy cocktails have never been hotter (pardon the pun). Bar goers can't get enough of drinks that pack a little heat; in fact, even bars that don't have a spicy margarita on the menu will hear requests for one. And if you're looking to recreate those spicy drinks at home, there's no easier way than these two magic words: jalapeño tequila.

Some mixologists will use hot peppers to create tinctures or bitters that impart serious sizzle; others, meanwhile, will muddle slices of pepper right in the cocktail shaker. But as a home bartender, odds are you're not looking to get too technical. And muddling fresh jalapeño peppers into every cocktail can be messy and cumbersome—it's also impractical when serving a crowd, since some jalapeños are hotter than others.

That's why infusing tequila is your best bet. All you need to do is place the peppers in the liquor, let the mixture sit, strain it—and boom, you're done.

Now, about specifics: A solid ratio is two medium-sized jalapeño peppers to every 750-milliliter bottle of tequila. Choose whichever brand you like, just make sure it says "100 percent blue agave" on the label. Pueblo Viejo is a great value.

Slice the tops off the peppers, cut them into thin strips, and place both the cut peppers and the seeds into a sealable container. Pour in the tequila, cover, let sit overnight, and then strain out the peppers and seeds. Pour the infused tequila back into the bottle, and you're good to go.

Once you've mastered your first batch, toy with the heat level—try a single  jalapeño for a gentle tingle and a few for a spicy punch.

Here are two great drinks to make with jalapeno-infused tequila.

Margarita 

 

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Combine two ounces of jalapeño tequila, an ounce of fresh lime juice and ¾ ounce of agave syrup (agave cut 1:1 with hot water) in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a rocks glass with ice (salted rim optional). Garnish with a lime wheel or a thin slice of jalapeño. 

Paloma

Combine 1½ ounces of jalapeño tequila, 1 ounce of fresh grapefruit juice and ½  ounce of agave syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a tall glass with ice. Top with 2 ounces of club soda and give it a brief stir. Garnish with a grapefruit slice and/or a few thin slices of jalapeño. 

Carey Jones is a New York-based food and travel writer and the author of Brooklyn Bartender: A Modern Guide to Cocktails and Spirits. Follow her on Twitter at @careyjones. 

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