Cultural appropriation aside, each year I look forward to Cinco de Mayo for one reason, and one reason only: margaritas. Margaritas have long been my favorite cocktail, even in college when the tequila was cheap and the sour mix was alien-green in color. Before craft cocktails became the rage, I had to conduct my own quest for the perfect margarita: a delicate balance of sweet and sour that allows the taste of the tequila to shine through and always, without exception, rimmed with salt. I learned the key is fresh lime juice. Margaritas are a bit labor intensive, as you must juice your own limes and make your own simple syrup. You can’t substitute with Rose’s lime juice or bottled sour mix. I mean, you can, but it will be sure to suck.
I make a ton of margaritas at home, experimenting with different simple syrups and salt/sugar rims, my recent favorite being a honey cinnamon margarita. But I’m always thrilled when I see something creative on a bar menu because (a) that’s less work for me at home and (b) I’m running out of ideas. I’m also grateful for any bartender who will indulge my request to have the margarita straight up, since I prefer to sip my margaritas slowly rather than guzzle them through a straw.
The East Bay’s Revival restaurant has opened up in East Greenwich on Main Street. The long, deep bar is an enticing place to share a cheese board and have a cocktail or two because their drink menu is well-thought-out and fun. They also have an impressive beer and whiskey selection. My friend Deb and I got two prime seats at the bar on a quiet Wednesday night.
Deb ordered herself a vanilla sidecar, which sounded (and tasted) incredible, but I was in the mood for a margarita. The bartender pointed me to a fan favorite: the jalapeno pineapple margarita. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the word “jalapeno” because I think everything is better when it’s spicy. This margarita was perfection — just enough tart, just enough sweet, just enough spice. Revival makes their cocktail bases, including bitters and simple syrups. For this drink they made their own sour mix, which I’ve never thought to do: equal parts lemon, lime and simple syrup. The lemon brought a freshness to the drink that I hadn’t noticed was missing in my at-home blends. And the jalapeno was not subtle; the drink had a distinct pepper flavor and spice.
Here’s how to make their margarita at home:
1.5 ounces jalapeno-infused tequila (Revival infuses their own, but you can also buy pre-infused tequila. Tanteo is an excellent brand.)
1 ounce orange liqueur
2 ounces of sour mix
Combine the ingredients and mix them well in a shaker filled with ice. Dip a martini glass into a mixture of salt and black pepper. Strain the drink into the glass, and garnish with pineapple and a lime wedge.