February 22nd is National Margarita Day! What better opportunity is there for an excuse to make some margaritas? You know, if you’re the sort of person that needs an excuse for margaritas that is.
Last year my contribution to the celebration was my Coconut Margarita, a slightly tropical nod to one of the most beloved and enjoyed cocktails. I went back to the tropics with this one too, but this time with pineapple.
I know a pineapple Margarita, in its simplest form, isn’t exactly revolutionary, but there’s a twist—isn’t there always? Part of what makes a Margarita great is the peppery warmth you get from good tequila; balanced with the sourness of lime and the sweetness of agave and orange liqueur (and I have to say that for a classic one, Cointreau is the only option) it makes for a smooth drink, nuanced with contrasting, but not combating, flavors. Pineapple can be a bit overpowering in its breezy island sweetness and you risk loosing that pep. To bring some of that back to the drink, I infuse the tequila with a bit of pink peppercorns.
Pink peppercorns aren’t “true” peppercorns in the botanical sense, in that they come from a totally different plant than the other fiery beads that bear the same moniker. They’re the dried berries of a shrub, rather than a vine like the others (black, green, and white—black being the whole dried berry, green being the dried unripe berry, and white being only the seed) but they share a similar quality of heat. They are, however, milder in their pepperiness and have a slightly floral and fruity note that surrounds that burn. They’re perfect for infusing the tequila with. Not only do they take the crystal clear blanco tequila to an amber-hued elixir, but the reinforced bite mixed with the almost sweet floral notes contrast the sweetness of the pineapple and bring a little added interest to the cocktail. Not to mention, they’re delightfully retro!
As long as you have roughly 24 hours, you can infuse some tequila and have a twist on tropical drink. A good, fresh pineapple juice takes it over the top, too. There are brands you can buy in the store that are fresh 100% juice, but frankly it was more economical for me to just make it; simply remove the top and bottom of a fresh pineapple, peel and core it, cut it into chunks and puree in a food processor with a tablespoon or two of water. Then, I strain it through a fine mesh sieve, pressing the purée to extract every last drop of juice, then pass said juice through the sieve again, this time lined with cheesecloth. Sure, it takes a bite more time than opening a can or bottle of juice but the freshness it brings is second to one. That said, I did test this with store-bought juice and it was still phenomenal.
So let’s celebrate! We have no excuse not to.
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