Mint Cucumber and Smoky Jalapeno Margarita

Jalapeños are the most popular chile peppers in the US. This is probably due to the availability and versatility of the chile. Jalapeños have a balanced combination of flavor and heat. The demand for these have caused breeders to develop a broad range of varieties.

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Serves 1

2 jalapeños
1/2 C flaky, coarse sea salt (i.e. Maldón)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/3 C cucumber, diced
1 cube brown or cane sugar
1 shot Cointreau
1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, lightly packed
2 shots reposado or silver tequila (or mezcal if you’re feeling adventurous)
1/3 C fresh lime juice

To serve: Extra lime wedges + slices of cucumber

Grill the jalapeños:
Pre-heat your grill or broiler to 450 degrees F. Place jalapeños on the grate and blacken thoroughly, approx 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and let cool to touch. Roughly chop.

As the peppers char, combine the flaky, course sea salt and smoked paprika in a shallow rimmed dish. Set aside.

Prepare your serving glass:
Take one of the lime wedges and run it along the lip of the glass. Dip into the prepared salt/paprika dish and twist your wrist to coat the rim. Gently shake off excess. Set aside.

Make your cocktail:
Place a quarter of the blackened jalapeños, diced cucumber, sugar and Cointreau in a large mason jar or cocktail shaker. Muddle with a bit of force until the sugar breaks down.
Add the mint leaves, tequila and lime juice. Muddle lightly. You don’t want to destroy the mint but rather, extract the oils.

Top with ice, cover tightly and shake until your arm hurts.
Place a small, fine mesh strainer over the prepared glass and pour the liquid through it.

Garnish with a lime wedge and slice of cucumber. Bottoms up!

If you’re afraid of the heat or want a milder spicy factor, you can slice the jalapeños length-wise and spoon out the seeds and white innards – this is where the heat mainly comes from – before you grill them. Be sure to wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after handling spicy peppers and don’t touch your eye or private bits before doing so.