Baja California, I've got a thing for you. Like a doodle-your-name on my binder and list you for MASH-type of thing. Call it a crush but I know it's more than that. I mean, we've hung out a fair amount and made some good memories.
Like that time I had total beginners luck and caught a marlin on the Sea of Cortez within 1 hour of setting sail (only to get so seasick we had to promptly turnaround and end the day)? Or that time I headed to that private beach on the other side of that estuary at sunrise all in the name of surfing? Or that time I off roaded on dusty roads for 45 minutes all in the name of a meal and then came across the farm-to-table oasis that is Flora Farms?
That's where I first came across the idea of a Carrot Margarita: like a pressed juice gone rogue and totally worth every bit of effort. The secret to this cocktail is layer upon layer of flavor: first you make a cilantro simple syrup that steeps until it has a subtle flavor. Meanwhile, you concoct a charred jalapeno tequila. (You could actually make both this and simple syrup well ahead of time so all you have to do when you want a drink is to shake it up.)
Speaking of which, when you're ready to drink, you grab everything else you'll need – carrot juice, orange juice, salt, lime, and ice. Then you measure, mix, shake, and strain, and you're rewarded with this beauty with which you can toast Baja and all its greatness.
For the cilantro simple syrup, bring the water and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar then remove from heat. Add the cilantro and let steep until the syrup tastes like cilantro, at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Meanwhile, make the jalapeno tequila.
For the jalapeno tequila, first broil or grill the jalapenos until charred and soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle then cut off the stem and chop the remaining jalapeno. If you want it less spicy, don't include the seeds or white ribs in the jalapeno.
Let the jalapeno soak in the tequila for at least 1 hour. Depending on the heat level you like, you can either leave the jalapeno in the tequila or strain it off and discard it.
The tequila can be made up to 1 month ahead of time; store refrigerated in an airtight container.
Once the syrup is a flavorful as you'd like, strain it through a fine mesh sieve and discard the cilantro.
The syrup can be made up to 1 month ahead of time; store refrigerated in an airtight container.
To make a cocktail, combine the carrot juice, tequila, orange juice, Cointreau, lime juice, and cilantro syrup in a cocktail shaker and fill halfway with ice. Close and shake until thoroughly chilled, about 15 to 20 shakes. Strain into a rocks glass filled halfway with fresh ice, add a pinch of salt (if using), garnish with a lime, and serve.
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