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There is an upscale burger chain called Hopdoddy that began in Austin and now has over a dozen locations in Texas, Colorado, Arizona and California. If you find yourself near one, treat yourself and go. It’s fun. At the main Austin location, you’ll stand in line for almost an hour, just to get in the front door, where the “cafeteria-like” line snakes for another twenty minutes or so. Great burgers, accelerated with cheese and chiles. Great fries, densely salted. Great shakes, in variations like Caramel & Sea Salt, Oreo Cooking, Stout Chocolate, and Red Velvet Cake. The shakes are smallish, so you may want to order two. Just a suggestion, not a criticism.

Oh, and what great margaritas. Suzi and I saw a special there last month: Jalapeno and Cilantro Margaritas. The bartender was kind enough to share the general outlines of the recipe. Here’s my version, which is close to theirs and decidedly hot.

The heat comes from two things: jalapeno tequila and muddled jalapenos that go into the cocktail shaker.

Let’s start with the vodka. You can buy jalapeno-flavored tequila, though I’m finding it hard to do here in New York City. There is a tequila brand called Tanteo that makes it, but liquor stores here in Manhattan, which are small and go for high volume sales of any spirit, have not found it to be a best seller and have stopped carrying it. And, I’ve discovered, you can make you own jalapeno tequila for about half the price.

How? Take a 750ml bottle of tequila or a full 1 liter bottle, and pour it into a glass jar. Add 2-3 jalapenos that you have sliced. Leave the seeds. Wait for time, strain, and use. How much time? Recipes will tell you everything from a few hours to a few days. That’s where the heat comes in. I used 3 large jalapenos for a 1 liter bottle of tequila and waited for just four hours. It was and remains HOT. So, you may want to experiment just a little here, trying only 1 or 2 jalapenos for only an hour or two. You really have to taste test along the way.

Store-bought or home-made, once you have your jalapeno tequila you are ready to soar.

As usual in my margaritas, I go for equal amounts of tequila, citrus liquor, citrus juice and sweetener. While triple sec is the “standard” citrus liquor, you get a much finer margarita if you go upscale. For example, Patron, the maker of tequila, also has Patron Citronge, an extra fine orange liquor. And there is a lime one, too. Which brings me to the citrus juice. Although lime juice is again the standard ingredient, people rave about my margaritas and I always make them with lemon juice.

For sweetener, using agave will make for a more viscous beverage and you can probably use a little less of it. I like simple syrup, but you can add even more flavor to your drink by adding a handful of mint as you make the syrup.

Jalapeno and Cilantro Margarita

Yield: serves 3-4


  • ½ cup cilantro, leaves and stems are fine
  • 1 medium to large jalapeno, ends removed, sliced, seeds retained [or not!]
  • 4 ounces jalapeno tequila
  • 4 ounces orange liqueur [NOT triple sec]
  • 4 ounces lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 4 ounces of sweetener, either simple sugar syrup or agave
  • Ice


Put the cilantro and jalapeno slices in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle until truly mashed. Add the remaining liquid ingredients and the ice. Shake until quite cold. Strain into you margarita glass filled with crushed ice.

Source: Brian O’Rourke with thanks to Hopdoddy

Photo Information [Top]: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for1/50th second at ISO‑500

Photo Information [Bottom]: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/3.5 for1/30th second at ISO‑800