First off, a happy New Year's Eve to you all!! I wish you all the best in 2014 and hope your goodbye to 2013 is a splendid one. I had hoped to get this post up yesterday so it would be of more use as a New Year's cocktail, but settling back into the groove of things after being a layabout back home for a week was a bit of a struggle. Nevertheless, I present to you The Mars Water (which you still have time to make before the new year if you do a short infusion of the tequila outlined in the instructions). I've been a longtime fan of slightly spicy cocktails. Bloody Marys are the most common kind (and also at the top of my list of favorite beverages), but there's a whole world of flavor aside from that tomatoey beverage, especially when it comes to hot pepper infused booze.
This was my first time infusing liquor with pepper, and I decided to go with a jalapeño because I'd had mango jalapeño salsa before and really loved the combination of the two in that dish. So I cut the jalapeño in half, scooped out the seeds and pulp, and let it sit in some tequila overnight. The next day I gave it a taste and could definitely taste the jalapeño, but it was pleasantly subtle. That was when I made the cocktail, but then I went up to Oregon for a week and forgot to take the jalapeño out of the bottle before I left, so when I returned I gave it another taste, and while the jalapeño flavor was definitely stronger, it didn't seem a whole lot spicier to me. So if you leave it overnight versus a week, the flavor of the actual pepper will intensify, but not the heat of the beverage.
I muddled some raspberries at the bottom of the serving glass before pouring in the mango juice and the jalapeño tequila and giving it all a good stir. Then I let it sit for about 5 minutes to let the raspberries settle slightly towards the bottom before serving. The result was a latin paradise of a beverage. Sweet, tangy, fresh, and slightly spicy, the tequila went splendidly with the mango juice and the jalapeños added very mild heat to the drink that only came through as a warm aftertaste. I loved the colors that the muddled raspberries added to the drink, too, almost a lava-y effect to it. I wanted to create something that had that kind of look, since I'd been wanting to make a little vignette video for a cocktail using one of Mars Water's (my brother's awesome surf rock band) songs. I know that if there was water on Mars then it would probably just look like, well, water, but that is not a particularly exciting-looking beverage (gin and tonics may be tasty, but Lord are they boring to look at), so I wanted to make something that looked kind of like orangey-red lava and had some heat to it, and thus the Mars Water was born.
I attempted doing an overnight time lapse for this video to show the tequila infusing overnight, but because I didn't have anything casting a strong shadow in frame it ended up just looking like the shot faded to black, unfortunately. But that just means I have to brainstorm another recipe that will involve liquid resting for a long period of time. Perhaps cayenne infusions? Or chipotle? I've been wanting to make a habanero-infused rum for a while now, this may just be the perfect excuse....
Jalapeño Infused Tequila
2 cups quality tequila (my favorite brand is Espalon Reposado)
The Mars Water
3/4 cup mango juice, chilled
1-3 shots jalapeño infused tequila (depending on how strong you'd like it)
First, infuse the tequila. Cut the cap off the jalapeño and discard it. Cut the jalapeño in half length-wise and scrape out the seeds and white pith with a small metal spoon. Discard the seeds and pith. Place the jalapeños in a sterile glass container and add the tequila. Seal the container and allow to rest for four hours or overnight in a cool dark place. If you're doing a short 4-hour infusion, vigorously shake the container every 30 minutes for about 10 seconds. If you're infusing it overnight, you don't need to shake it. You can allow it to infuse for up to 1 week, keeping in mind that the heat will not increase much between the overnight infusion and the weeklong infusion, but the flavor of the jalapeño pepper itself will. Once the desired flavor intensity is reached, remove the jalapeño from the container and discard it.
To prepare the cocktail, drop the raspberries into the bottom of the serving vessel. Muddle them until thoroughly crushed, then add the mango juice and jalapeño infused tequila and stir until combined. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.