Contemporary Tropical cocktails: Making a Naturally Spiced Margarita

In the new July/August 2009 issue of HAWAII Magazine, we’re bringing you some cocktails.

Actually, a whole collection of tasty, summer-ready cocktails we’ve titled Contemporary Tropicals: A Guide to the Best in Island Libations.

Knowing we wanted a collection of tropical cocktails with a fresh, modern twist, we sought the services of Hawaii master mixologist Joey Gottesman.

Joey knows his cocktails. First as a noted Honolulu bartender, then as an in-demand Hawai‘i consultant, he’s crafted cocktails and bar menus for some of Islands’ finest resorts, restaurants and watering holes. Recently hired to oversee beverage operations at the newly renovated Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, Gottesman has dreamed up an entire menu of tropical delights—made with fresh, natural ingredients instead of packaged or bottled mixes—which you can make at home.

You’ll find eight of Joey’s tropical cocktail recipes—complete with brilliant photos of each cocktail by staff photographer David Croxford—in HAWAII Magazine’s Contemporary Tropicals feature, on newsstands nationwide now.

Here on, we’ll be running four additional recipes from Joey in the weeks ahead.

Here’s the first—a piquant antidote to the standard blended-to-death margarita. Enjoy!

Naturally Spiced Margarita

This unblended margarita has a hint of fresh ginger and a slight bite from tequila and fresh chiles. Says Gottesman, “Blending is fun. But from a cocktail perspective, it doesn’t make for a well-balanced drink. It hides flavor to the point where cocktails taste like virgin drinks. So people add more alcohol than needed.” Another twist to this margarita? No lime. It’s mellower to use lemon.
tropical_fresh_cocktails_recipe_Royal_Hawaiian_oneMuddle these ingredients in the mixing glass of a Boston shaker:

1 Tbsp. white granulated sugar
1- to 2-inch by 1/8 inch-thick slice of fresh ginger
1- or 2 1/8-inch-thick rings of fresh jalapeno or Fresno chile

Top the mixer glass off with ice cubes and add:

1 ½ oz. reposado tequila (“reposado”—or “rested”—tequila is aged from two to 11 months)
½ oz. triple sec
Juice from 1 ½ lemon (freshly squeezed)
1 to 2 oz. water

Bruise contents in the Boston shaker, and strain into a margarita glass using a Hawthorne strainer.

A word about the fresh ginger:

Fresh ginger—especially fresh ginger from Hawai‘i—offers a whole different taste sensation than dried. It’s well worth seeking out, since most of Hawai‘i’s ginger crop is exported to the Mainland.

Photos by David Croxford