For a while now I’ve been on the spicy cocktail bandwagon. It started for me at Santana Rae's - an independent Mexican restaurant in Methuen MA - with a habanero-favored margarita that was unlike anything I’d ever tried. And believe me, I’ve tried a lot of margaritas. It was the perfect combination of heat, sweet, sour and salt. To my great sadness Santana Rae's when out of business after being open for a short time. My wife and I loved the place but like so many non-chain start-ups it just could not make it in an area with so many other dining choices.
Since Santana Rae's closed, whenever I see a spicy drink on the menu anywhere I have to try it. There have been some good ones and some not so good. In most cases the drink is just not spicy enough for my taste. I love it hot! If you are going to make a spicy drink why would you make it for people who can’t take the heat? Many chain restaraunts now feature a spicy margarita but they are disappointingly not spicy enough and are usually made with a sugary pre-made margarita mix.
Temazcal Tequila Cantina features two spicy margaritas, the En Fuego and the Picante - both good, but neither spicy enough in my opinion. On the other hand, the Chile Margarita at Grande Mexio in Plaistow, NH, with its habanero puree and whole habanero garnish, was perhaps too spicy (is that possible?) Also, be careful here! I ordered a grande and it was the size of a scorpion bowl.
So if you are looking to experience a truly spicy cocktail I would advise you not to try your first one at least at a chain place that caters to the average Joe. (I find this to be the case when ordering a spicy dish at these restaurants also. Most choose to err toward the bland side.)
My solution to replacing this drink that can’t be found anymore is to try to recreate it myself. I have to say that through research and testing I’ve came up with a pretty good recipe. A lot of it was borrowed from recipes I found on the net. I just make a few changes to fix what I need. Here goes:
Sweet Heat Margarita
First I must say that primary source for this recipe is the Rick Bayless Apple-Habanero Margarita. My recipe is created with the idea to be able to make this drink on-demand without taking a lot of time per drink. Making the Habanero Puree takes some work and time. So I make a batch of the Puree and put it in ice cube trays. This goes in the freezer and I use one cube per drink.
To make the Puree you will need:
2 large apples, peeled, quartered and cored (you need about 12 ounces/3 ½ cups of cleaned apple quarters) ¼ cup sugar ¼ to ½ fresh habanero chile, stemmed ¼ cup agave syrup or simple syrup
Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Spread the apples onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with the sugar, tossing them to coat evenly. Add the habanero to the baking sheet, and slide into the oven. Roast for 20 minutes, then use a spatula to flip the apple pieces. Roast for another 20 minutes, until lightly browned and completely soft.
In a food processor or blender, process the roasted apples with the agave syrup or Simple Syrup) and ½ cup water until completely smooth. Chop the habanero (seeds and all), then add a portion to the apple puree—start with a quarter to make it a little spicy, half for the full experience. Process to blend thoroughly, taste and add more habanero if you were too timid at first. Pulse to blend. Pour into a Ice cube tray. You can set how spicy your drinks will be by the size of the ice cube trays you use. Keep the Puree in the freezer until you are ready to make a drink.
This is what you need when the time comes:
1 Habanero Puree Cube
2 oz Tequila
½ oz Brandy
½ oz Orange Liqueur
1 oz lime juice
All ingredients are poured in a shaker with ice cubes. This should be shake vigorously
so the Puree is mixed in well. Pour liquid from the shaker into a margarita glass filled with ice. Then you drink!