“Perfectly balanced” describes this savory margarita… Farm fresh red bell pepper and jalapeño juice muddled with fresh cilantro is added to añejo tequila, fresh squeezed lime, agave nectar, and sea salt in a fabulously fresh cocktail with savory, sweet, heat, and acidity. Salsa Sunset: A Savory Margarita may have you rethinking “margarita!”
Have you experimented with savory cocktails, or is your experience with them limited to the ubiquitous Bloody Mary? Don’t get me wrong. I love a properly made Bloody Mary. I even love one made with canned mix and vodka when I’m on a 6:00 a.m. flight and I’ve having my usual flight anxiety. I have recently discovered a whole new world of cocktails, though, in the savory cocktail. “Farm to drink” is a phrase I’m seeing bandied about lately.
Never one to order a sweet drink, my “go to” cocktail is a dirty martini up made with an artisan gin if possible. It’s aromatic, dry, and salty. I love them! When I first began seeing liquor.com blog posts about savory cocktails, I was intrigued. My enthusiasm for them grew during my recent trip to Charleston, SC. where I enjoyed a couple of drinks at THE Gin Joint in downtown Charleston. Fresh vegetables and herbs make their way into many of their cocktails; freshness is clearly part of the decor in this wonderful establishment.
So what does “farm to drink” look like? Fresh produce, herbs, house made shrubs and bitters, infused spirits… Given my love of all things fresh, this is a very exciting development. I promise to not overwhelm you with cocktail recipes, but I will include them periodically.
So, when I originally made this drink, and posted a photo to Instagram, and asked for name recommendations. As it was Mother’s Day, my cousin suggested “Hot Mama.” That was fun! “Tamarita” was another fun one… My fellow food blogger Christine from Mid-Life Croissant made my day with her offering: Call it “the cocktail that finally got Christine’s ass to McAllen Texas” PS I’m at your front door.” Such fun, and I hadn’t even had a sip yet!
Cocktail 101: Savory Cocktails in Theory and Practice provides a great overview on the topic, and includes links to a few intriguing recipes… After reading this post, what word (or words) comes to mind when you think of “savory cocktails?” I’d love to read your responses in the comments section!
Making Salsa Sunset: A Savory Margarita
I know some of you are less than enthusiastic about infused spirits (i.e. my Apple, Pear, and Sage Martini) due to the advanced planning and additional time required to infuse the spirits. This cocktail takes a more direct approach. A medium-sized fresh red bell pepper gets puréed with a jalapeño or three. 😀 The juice is then pressed through a fine mesh sieve. Alternatively, you can run it through a juicer… Hint, hint Dr. A. The juice gets muddle with fresh cilantro in a shaker, the combined with tequila, fresh-squeezed lime juice, agave nectar, and sea salt. I used Bull’s Island (South Carolina) smoked sea salt, but you can use your favorite sea salt. Give it a good shake, then strain it over “rocks.” It really is that simple! I hope you will give serious thought to giving it a try… Salsa Sunset will be in the regular Sunday afternoon rotation at Andersen casa.
I do specify “añejo tequila. This is aged 2 to 5 years, and the complexity from the barrel aging adds complexity to the cocktail. However, you will have an amazing drink with a reposado (aged 2 to 12 months). Reposado means rested. Your savory margarita will be wonderful with your favorite good quality tequila. It does not have to be “top shelf.”
Recommended Kitchen and Pantry Items:
- Juicer – This is the one Dr. A and I plan to get each other for our 37th anniversary next month! I love Breville appliances.
- Cocktail Shaker – Because you need a good one… and you want to see the pretty color!
- Fine Mesh Strainer – To strain that gorgeous crimson juice!
- Silicone Spatula Set – To press the vegetables through the sieve.
- Muddler – I have this one and love it!
- Smoked Salt – This is not my Bull’s Island smoked salt, but it is a worth competitor. 😀
Red Bell Pepper Juice
- 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut into1" pieces
- 1 to 3 jalapenos, to taste
Salsa Sunset: A Savory Margarita
- 1.5 ounces red bell pepper juice
- handful of fresh cilantro leaves, no stems!
- 3 ounces anejo tequila, (see notes)
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 2 teaspoons agave nectar
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked salt, or other fine sea salt
- Puree the red bell pepper and jalapeno until smooth. Press with a spatula through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside. This will make about 6 ounces of juice. The juice will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator.
- Muddle the cilantro leaves with the red bell pepper juice in a shaker.
- Add the tequila, juice of 1/2 of a juicy lime, the agave nectar, and sea salt.
- Add ice to the cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously.
- Strain into an appropriate cocktail glass with ice. Enjoy! (I know you will).
We use 3 jalapeños, but we're New Mexicans. If you're uncertain, try one the first time.
Reposado tequila is a FINE substitute. We like the added complexity of añejo, but it is more expensive, and not a requirement.
I collect salts. A good smoked salt will add another layer of flavor, but any good sea salt is fine.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 253