Living in the city during the summer can be rough. It always seems to be 20 degrees hotter than it should be thanks to heat radiating blacktop and there is almost always out of control traffic for those times you do try and escape to somewhere cooler.
Six summers ago, I left living in Manhattan and moved into my current apartment in Astoria, Queens. When I went to view the place, it was under complete construction and the only thing in place were the floor and few main walls. What I did notice, however, was the large (for New York City) backyard right outside my door.
Within minutes I knew I had found my place and moved in the following week.
This apartment has seen a lot and now I live here with along with my boyfriend, David, and our black cat, Zelda. And while the backyard has always made summers a little more bearable, I must admit I've never really let it live to its full potential until recently.
My upstairs neighbors (and friends) also have access to this special place and are incredible gardeners and have kept a thriving garden back there every summer. By August, you can't even tell you are in the middle of a backyard in Queens. And while every summer I've attempted a few potted plants, they never seem to do well.
This summer, though, I'm attempting to change that and have some kale, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and jalapeño peppers in my little section of the garden. One of the biggest things I'm learning this summer is to not only be patient with my little garden but also to slow down and make the time to spend out there.
And what do you know, with some patience and care, I'm starting to see the payoff in the form of spicy jalapeño peppers which are the inspiration for this cocktail. Spicy, yet refreshing with juicy cucumbers muddled together the pepper and then infused into the tequila and lime juice.
It's the perfect drink to sip, slow down and enjoy the fleeting summer.
Cucumber Jalapeño Margarita
Time: 5 minutes
10 slices cucumber (about 1/4" thick)
1 large jalapeño pepper, stem removed and sliced (remove seeds for less heat)
4 ounces Blanco tequila
2 ounces lime juice
1/2 ounce orange liqueur (such as Cointreau)
1/2 ounce simply syrup (recipe below)
For the Simple Syrup
1 cup cane sugar (or honey)
1 cup water
For the Salt & Sugar Glass
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon cane sugar
1. Make the simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool and store in an airtight, glass container for up to three weeks.
2. Prepare the salt and sugar glasses by combining the sea salt and cane sugar on a plate. Rub a lime wedge around the top of each glass and then press the rim into the salt and sugar mixture. Set aside.
3. Place the cucumber and jalapeño slices in the large side of a shaker glass. Use a muddler to muddle for 30 seconds or until lightly crushed and juicy. Pour in the tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur and simple syrup.
4. Fill the shaker with ice and secure the lid/shaker tin.
5. Shake vigorously for a slow count to 10 or until the top shaker frosts up. Remove the lid and pour the margarita into each glass. Garnish with lime, cucumber and jalapeño. Cheers!