– the addition of something (such as money) that is needed or helpful
-a drink made by allowing something (such as tea) to stay in a liquid (such as hot water) : a drink made by infusing something
-the act of infusing something
I LOVE a spicy cocktail. Heck, I love anything with a kick to it. My husband is the exact opposite, having said once, “Eating food shouldn’t be a challenge.” Not only do I find spice not a challenge, I find that it enhances flavor! But hey, everyone has different tastes, and I respect his boring way of eating (just kidding, babe!), just as I know he puts up with my hot n’ fiery ways.There is rarely a time when I find that a restaurant or bar will have the perfect amount of spice in a cocktail. Honestly, I still dream of the days I’d enjoy a “Habanero Watermelon Margarita” at Masa in the South End of Boston. It was my favorite alcoholic drink when we lived in Boston, and now that we’re in LA, I’ve been getting the hankering for one.
So, how to I solve this dilemma? I tried making my own! And it was perfectly delicious.
Before I dive into how I made my own Spicy Watermelon Margarita, I think a little explanation of infusion is necessary, as the first step in making this fantastic cocktail is by infusing the tequila. What are infusions?
Well, if you have ever seen a large glass container, perhaps in a hotel lobby, filled with water and thinly sliced lemons and/or oranges, perhaps with mint…If you have ever enjoyed tea (and sometimes coffee) whether it be iced or hot…If you have ever enjoyed an olive oil that tasted like it had hints of rosemary or garlic…If you have ever had some flavored liquor (or infused spirit), such as a pineapple vodka or a spicy tequila…Then you have been exposed to infusions. And since infusing oil dates back to the 10th or 11th century and infusing tea dates back to 10th century BC, you are joining the millions of people in almost all cultures around the world in a process that is still widely used today. That’s pretty darn amazing, if you ask me!
The word infusion can be applied to many topics, but of course for our needs, we’ll be sticking to food/drink-related infusions: even liquids that can change into solids, such as fat. Infusion is not only the process by which you extract the flavor of a plant (vegetable, fruit or herb) by steeping it in water, oil or alcohol, but it’s also the name of the end result, the flavored liquid you end up with.I find mint and lemon infused water extremely refreshing, and it is truly as easy as adding some lemon and mint to water, letting it steep for a bit and then enjoying it! I found many-a-site with infused water recipes, such as Nutrition Stripped and Infused Waters.
I took a few off of the vine, rinsed them and then cut them in halves. I then added the chilies, along with their seeds to approximately two cups of tequila. And then I let them get to know each other, for 5 days. Because I used cayenne and not habanero peppers, I wasn’t too worried about the tequila getting too spicy. Had I used habanero peppers, I would have taken them out after just a few days.
Next up, the watermelon. I found a small seedless watermelon that I cubed (minus the peel, of course), and I added those cubes to a container for hand blending. If you have a blender, that would work beautifully, as well. I added the juice of two limes to the watermelon, and I blended away!
I added some ice, some of the spicy cayenne pepper-infused tequila (however much you think you can handle!) and the watermelon/lime puree to a goblet-type class, and my cocktail was just perfect! For me, it wasn’t too spicy that it was undrinkable. The spice was the perfect compliment to the refreshing watermelon and lime.
It couldn’t have been easier to infuse the tequila. And now, I’m curious to try more infusions! When I asked some friends what they had infused in the past, here are some of answers I received:
Friend from Virginia, US:
“Pineapple infused vodka is my fave!! also, Blueberry infused vodka is really yummy. Use frozen blueberries.”
Cousin, who lived in Naples, Italy:
“In Naples we used to make our own lemoncello… Involved soaking lemon zest in grain alcohol for a specific amount of time. We were adventurous and made cherry lemoncello and strawberry lemoncello. Upon “harvesting” our moonshine, my friend decided to taste the “marinated” cherry. The look on her face is forever imprinted in my memory – and, might I add, you should not try that at home!!!”
Friend from Massachusetts, US:
“I make apple brandy, and this is sort of unrelated but I like to make rosemary simple syrup to use in cocktails…”
Another Friend from Massachusetts, US:
“I love to make infused garlic and rosemary cream. I cool it whip it and make garlic-rosemary butter from it.”
If you have tried, enjoyed, or made your own infused oil, tea, fat, liquor, water or whatever, I’d love to hear about it!
Do share! Once again, food connects us all!