4 Great Spicy Margarita Recipes That Bring the Heat

4 Great Spicy Margarita Recipes That Bring the Heat

The margarita is arguably the most popular cocktail in the world. Sure, that’s an impossible statement to prove, but regardless of whether it actually has the title, the margarita is loved for a reason. When made right, it’s refreshing, delicious, and easy to batch or personalize. The traditional recipe contains only three basic ingredients – tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice – making it a simple, yet sublime drink. Of course, despite the simple formula, the potion often failed. But even when they’re bad, margaritas are still kinda good.

“The margarita’s relatively simple recipe lends itself incredibly well to embellishment in seemingly myriad ways,” said Justin Lavenue, co-owner and contributor of The Roosevelt Room in Austin, Texas.

Of course, quality ingredients are critical, but if you really want to take your margarita recipe up a notch, give it some spice. Warmth helps add depth and some contrast to the drink’s inherent sweetness, which is often a bit sticky. And just as there are about a million ways to make a margarita, there are just as many ways to crank up the heat.

You could replace the traditional Cointreau or triple-sec with the crowd-pleasing Ancho Reyes liqueur (green or red, depending on the mood). infuse your own tequila with some fresh peppers. Those looking for an easier hack can coat the rim of the glass not only with salt, but also in a healthy serving spicy Tajín

In addition to applying a simple spice to the rim, Lavenue suggests adding a few drops of chili oil or a teaspoon of Salsa Macha and then shake the cocktail dry before adding ice. “Shaking dry at room temperature allows the cocktail to absorb more of the flavors from the oil, as some of it will soak into the alcohol.” By the way, Lavenue says the leftover oil floats on the surface after it’s strained into the glass. That adds “an enticing aromatic garnish, a lively appearance and a silky texture on the tongue.”

For those craving a little heat in their drink, we asked a few bartenders to see how they add some fire to their margaritas. Hopefully their recipes will make your mouth water or, better yet, spark your imagination to create something new and unique.

1. El Camino

While making your own infused tequila isn’t complicated, it does take time. Fortunately for those who want some heat in their drink in the short term, you can find a spicy tequila on the shelf of your local liquor store. “The El Camino is an easy shortcut to a spicy margarita,” said Johnny Swet, founder and master mixologist at JIMMY Rooftop Bar at Modernhaus Soho in New York City. “Tanteo Habanero Tequila brings the spice, balanced by Milagro Tequila.” To spice up the drink (pictured above) a bit further, Swet recommends a spicy garnish: a charred habanero garnish, which “raises the bar for those who like it hot.”

1 oz Milagro Tequila
1.5 oz Tanteo Habanero Tequila
.75 oz lime juice
.75 oz Agave

Ice-shake at temperature and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a lime wedge and a Tajín salt charred habanero (either baked over a flame or roasted in a cast iron pan.)

2. The Spicy Margarita

Not all of the spicy heat comes from peppers. Just ask any of the millions who enjoy shots of Fireball Whiskey. For fans of that ‘cinnamon burn’ Deke Dunne, Master Mixologist at allegory DC, has a recipe to tickle the taste buds. “One of my favorite flavor combinations is tequila, cinnamon, and pineapple,” Dunne says. He combines all three to create his ‘Spiced Up Margarita’. “Blank tequila naturally pairs beautifully with pineapple, and both flavors pair wonderfully with the deep, rich spice of cinnamon,” he says. “It’s easy to make at home and it’s insanely delicious.”

2 oz Altos Olmeca Blanco Tequila
.75 Fresh lime juice
.75 Pineapple juice
.50 Spiced cinnamon syrup


Add ingredients to a shaker, add ice and shake for 5-7 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a rocks glass with fresh ice and garnish with a slice of pineapple.

For the spiced cinnamon syrup: Combine one part sugar and one part water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. Add a few cinnamon sticks and a few diced jalapeños to the skillet, cover, and let sit over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes. The longer you leave it, the more the flavors of the cinnamon and jalapeño really come through. Strain off the cinnamon and jalapeño pieces and store your syrup in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.

3. The Calabrian Margarita

This recipe is a quasi-fusion of a margarita and another great summer sipper, the tequila negroni, plus a simple, spicy edge. “Although Brother Wolf is an Italian aperitivo bar, we occasionally have guests looking for something a little more familiar, like a spicy margarita,” says Jessica King of Brother Wolf in Knoxville, Tennessee. King gives an Italian twist to the drink. The Aperol adds a touch of bitterness that plays against the sweetness of the fruit juice, while the Calabrian chilli powder adds just enough heat to make the drink a bit dangerous.

2 oz Corralejo Reposado Tequila
1 oz Aperol
1.5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz fresh orange juice
Spicewalla Calabrian Chili Powder


Coat a single spot of the rim of a tall glass with fresh lime juice, then dip or sprinkle with the Calabrian chili powder.

Combine all ingredients, including a pinch of chili powder, in a mixing tin with ice. Shake vigorously and pour contents into rimmed glass.

4. Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita

Seasoning from fresh peppers is delicious, but the heat can get overwhelming. Balance is then crucial. After all, you want to be able to drink the drink and taste it afterwards. In this spicy margarita from Eufemio Vega, mixologist at Quivira Steakhouse, Pueblo Bonito Resorts in Los Cabos, Mexico, a few crisp, herbaceous notes play foil against the peppery fire. “The cucumber and basil smooth out the heat and this thirst quencher goes down really smoothly,” he says. “It’s best to make sure it’s shaken well to let the heat from the jalapeños escape and then drink it very cold.”

1.5 oz. white tequila
1.5 oz. agave honey
Cucumber .25 grams
Basil .25 grams
Lemon juice 1 oz.
Pineapple juice 0.5 oz.
Jalapeno .10 grams
Tajin 0.02 grams


Cut a slice of lemon, run the wedge on one side of the rim of the glass. Place Tajín on a plate and pour over the glass. Add the basil leaves, seedless cucumber pieces, lemon and pineapple juices, agave syrup and a small piece of jalapeño pepper to a cocktail shaker. Macerate for 30 seconds.

Pour the blanco tequila and ice into the shaker and shake for 10 seconds. If you have a cocktail shaker, shake it until it is ice cold on the outside.

Put a few ice cubes in the serving glass; strain the margarita over the ice. Garnish with a cucumber slice.