While I haven’t been traveling much, I have been experimenting with a lot of recipes with global ingredients. I’ve been working my way through some new recipes. From time to time, I am also making up some variations of my own. There’s one cocktail in particular that I have been enjoying a lot. It it contains all five tastes—salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. Plus, two additional flavors that aren’t official tastes—spicy and smoky. If you’ve been working on your at-home cocktail making skills, the Fire Margarita is a great one to try. It pays homage to my postponed trip to Oaxaca and is the best spicy margarita I think I’ve ever had. And I love margaritas!
Smoky, Sweet, Sour
I love margaritas with mezcal. It offers the perfect blend of spirits. The two pictured here, Tequila Ocho Plata and Mezcal Vago Elote, are my absolute favorites. Part of what makes them so good is that they are both crafted in the original ways – slowly, without additives, and in small batches. Although, you can really use any tequila or mezcal you have. The way these two agave spirits play off one another is kind of like poetry.
Using fresh lime and simple syrup or agave, instead of a pre-made mix, is also key to an amazing margarita. You can also easily dial the sweetness up or down to your preference very easily. I have been lucky with the quality of limes I’ve been buying in the store lately. Some bartenders will double strain cocktails with fresh fruit in them, to remove any pulp, but a margarita benefits from the little, sour gems. So I would just strain out the ice when you serve.
Bitter, Salty, Umami, Spicy
While you may have encountered a margarita with mezcal, these two ingredients are what sets this drink apart. The bitters are very unique. (If you want to learn more about bitters, check out my post about Crude Bitters here.) Crude makes their “No No” bitters with nine different peppers and it is hot. Two dashes are perfect for this spicy margarita recipe. You can always add more if you like it spicier. You can order their bitters online.
The salt is from the Jacobsen Salt Company in Portland, OR. I was talking to the cashier and mentioned that I liked mezcal. She suggested that I might like their San Pablo Worm & Chile Salt. It sounded a little weird, but I tried it and it was really unique. The toasted worms are very ground up (see super-close up image) so you might not even know they are there. The combination of the worms (umami flavor) and the salt, make the drink flavors pop. Plus, as someone who hates a salted rim on a margarita, it gets the job done without the mess and being overly salted. If you have a salt infused with spice, that would work too.
Between these two ingredients, the drink comes together into the perfect spicy margarita. It has enough unique flavors while mingling with familiar flavors like lime and tequila your palate is likely used to.
The Fire Margarita
- 1.5 oz mezcal (Mezcal Vago Elote suggested)
- 1.5 oz tequila (Tequlia Ocho Plata suggested)
- 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- 0.5 oz agave (or 1 oz simple syrup)
- 2 droppers Crude Bitters "No No" bitters
- 1 pinch Jacobsen Salt Co. San Pablo Worm & Chile salt
- Combine all ingredients into a shaker.
- Shake with ice.
- Single strain over ice of choice.
Let me know if you try this out and what you think! I hope you are doing well and are continuing to find new things to try. I am trying to master a one-handed shake, which is so hard with small hands, but I am getting there. If this seems like too many flavors for you, check out this post with three classic margarita recipes. Until next time, cheers!
Post from May 2020; updated on February 15, 2021.