The day I discovered spicy margaritas was one of the best days of my life. OK, that’s an exaggeration. But, seriously, spicy cocktails are life. Since the first sip on that fateful day, spicy cocktails have become my obsession and go-to cocktail whenever they’re available in restaurants.
Dear spicy margaritas,
I love the tingle you leave on my lips,
The heat you cause in my mouth,
The sensory experience I never want to live without.
Now that I’ve thoroughly weirded you out with my spicy margarita obsession — sorry not sorry — let’s talk about the newest and tastiest margarita recipe around town: the frozen mango lava margarita.
Being the spicy margarita connoisseur that I am, I’ve discovered over the years that you don’t want heat just for heat’s sake. Cocktails are all about balance: how you experience the heat along with the sweet, the sour and the alcohol. I created this recipe out of a love for spice and tropical drinks that are synonymous with holiday celebrations and summertime.
To start, I needed to infuse some tequila. (If you don’t know how to do that, learn how here.) But with what? Immediately, chilis came to mind — but some kind of chili that wasn’t the rudimentary jalapeño or green chili. Red Fresnos? No, too easy. Habanero? Yikes, too hot. What about dried chilis? Dried chilis are so diverse, with many heat and flavor profiles. And that’s when it came to me: I’d test out ancho and árbol dried chilis for this spicy margarita.
I infused both options into tequila. The dried chilis infused quickly and needed only a few hours. The ancho chili gave the tequila a fruity quality, like a raisin-flavor with mild heat. Although the taste was nice, it didn’t offer the spice I was looking for.
The dried árbol chilis won out. They’re floral with a full heat profile that can be modified by leaving the seeds in or out. If you’re after an extra kick of spiciness, you can leave the seeds in — but steeped for too long, they can take on a bitter taste. I preferred the recipe without the seeds; it created the balance of heat and flavor I was looking for. To remove the seeds, just take off the stem, break the chili pods apart, and shake them out before adding them to the jar containing tequila.
I combined the árbol chili-infused tequila with mango for two reasons: 1) My dad and brother are huge fans of chili mango candies and dried fruit snacks (family first, folks); and 2) The tropical sweetness of chilled mango adds to the complex taste, while the árbol tequila acts as the liquid fire.
I rimmed the drink with chimoy, a sweet and sour Mexican syrup used often with fruit. If chimoy is not your thing or you can’t find it, simply rim the glass with a lime wedge. Dust the rim with tajin, the quintessential salted chili seasoning. This adds sourness and saltiness to the sweetness and heat of the frozen cocktail.
Let me know what you think of this recipe and share a snap of it by tagging @HomeoftheHolidays and #Holidays365.
2 cups frozen mango (or 1 16-ounce bag of frozen mango)
6 ounces árbol-infused tequila (see ingredients and directions for infusion)
1 cup pineapple or orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
2 ounces simple syrup
1 cup ice
Optional: chamoy and tajin for rim
Optional: Lime wheel and 1 dried chili de árbol for garnish
Remove stems from the chilis.
Crack in half and remove most seeds.
Place chilis into jar and fill with tequila.
Let sit in cool dry place out of direct light for 4–6 hours.
Strain tequila into clean jar.
Rim glasses with chamoy and dip into tajin (or rim with lime slice and dip into tajin).
In blender, combine mango, tequila, fruit juice, line, simple and ice.
Blend until smooth and well incorporated, with no large bits of ice or mango remaining.
If too thin, add more ice or frozen mango; if too thick, add more fruit juice.
Serve in rimmed glasses, garnished with a lime wheel and whole dried chili.
You can use fresh diced mango, just use more ice and simple syrup. This version will be a bit milder in mango flavor, so we recommend using frozen mango.
Non-Frozen version: Use a few oz of mango juice or fresh mango puree and service over ice
Virgin version: Omit the tequila, of course. But to keep the spice steep the chilies in your simple syrup to make a chili simple syrup. For the Syrup combine equal parts sugar and water add a few of the dried chilis de-seeded. Simmer over low heat until sugar is dissolved, and chilies are steeped, about 7-10 minutes. Do not let boil. Strain the syrup and use in the recipe. This should give you a similar chili kick in a minor friendly version.