Have you ever tried a margarita? Considering that the margarita is one of the most popular drinks in the world and the drink of choice for celebrating Cinco de Mayo, the answer to this rhetorical question is obviously yes.
The better question is how do you drink your margarita. Maybe you like your Mexican cocktail on the rocks or perhaps you prefer a slushier frozen version. You might doctor a classic margarita to make it sweet or spicy. Then there’s the decision of adding salt or going salt-free.
With just a handful of ingredients, the popular tequila cocktail manages to be bitter, salty, sour and sweet in every sip. Everybody has a favorite margaria version – even us.
When we make margaritas at home, we typically add a cayenne kick to take our margarita recipe one delicious step further.
Yes, we love to make our margaritas spicy.
With more possible margarita origin stories than margarita ingredients, the history of the margarita is murky at best. One thing we know for sure is that the popular tequila drink dates back to the first half of the 20th century.
Since the Spanish word margarita literally translates to daisy, we can justifiably assume that the margarita is a variation of the daisy cocktail using tequila instead of brandy. But questions of who, what, where and when it was invented are open to speculation.
Some cocktail historians credit Carlos Herrera for inventing the margarita in Tijuana while others recognize Margarita Sames for being the first to serve the tasty tequila tipple in Acapulco.
You can read more about the margarita’s history in Smithsonian Magazine and pick the origin story you like best.
Spicy Margarita Ingredients
A Spicy Margarita is a classic margarita with an added ingredient or two to ramp up the heat. But what’s in a classic margarita recipe?
Most classic margarita recipes feature quality tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice, kosher salt and ice. Some recipes add ingredients like agave and simple syrup but those ingredients are optional.
To make spicy margaritas in our home kitchen, we bought bottles of silver Tres Sombreros tequila and Cointreau triple sec at our local liquor store in Lisbon. Each bottle cost us approximately €15.
The jalapeno pepper is the most common ingredient used to transform a classic margarita into a Spicy Margarita. Other recipes add habanero peppers to the mix. Our version includes neither of these North American chilis.
Instead, our recipe incorporates cayenne pepper powder which can be purchased at any local market around the world. We prefer the more rounded flavor which allows the margarita to retain its sweetness but with a pleasant kick.
Taste your cayenne pepper to test its heat level before you add it to your margarita. We tend to go heavy with ours since the cayenne pepper in our kitchen is milder than the kind sold in the United States.
You can be more adventurous if you’re located in the Americas. Grind a combination of dry chilis like arbols, cascabels and chipotles into a fine powder for a more complex flavor.
Spicy Margarita Variations
While we like crafting our margaritas with cayenne pepper and drinking them on the rocks, you may want to try one of the following variations:
- Add jalapeño peppers to create a jalapeño margarita.
- Infuse the tequila with habanero peppers.
- Replace the tequila with mezcal for a smokier flavor.
- Mix strawberries to create a strawberry margarita.
- Use a blender and some ice to create a frozen margarita.
How to Make a Spicy Margarita
Making a Spicy Margarita is easy to do at home and takes just five minutes in total. Necessary tools include a cocktail shaker, jigger and strainer. You’ll also need a knife to slice the lime in half. Follow our full recipe below for detailed instructions.
You can call your Spicy Margarita a jalapeno margarita or a dirty margarita. It’s your drink – call it whatever you want.
Considering the margarita’s roots, you’ll want to pair your Spicy Margarita with Mexican food favorites. We like to drink ours with guacamole, fresh tomato salsa and chips to create the happiest hour of the day.
Pin It for Later
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.