Sparkling Ginger Margarita

In my opinion, Rick Bayless is something of an idol in the culinary world, especially if you are a lover of exquisite Mexican food and drink. If you have tried any of his places in Chicago, I’m certain you will agree with me. His Topolo Margarita from Topolobampo and Frontera Grill remains the best I have ever had. (To be posted in the future!) This seasonal winter cocktail is also sophisticated and refreshing. It may seem like this post is long and full of directions, but it includes two methods and the ginger simple syrup recipe. To save time, make the ginger syrup ahead of time, it keeps for weeks in the refrigerator. This is a perfect margarita for celebrating the end of winter, and ushering in a new season (fingers crossed).

from: Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks
makes: 1 cocktail (for pitcher recipe see below)

2 slices ginger the thickness of a quarter (no need to peel), coarsely chopped
1 fresh kaffir lime leaf, cut in half lengthwise where the leaf is indented (optional)*
1 ½ oz 100% blue agave blanco tequila

½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz orange curaçao or other triple sec
¼ oz ginger agave syrup (recipe below)
ice
1 oz sparkling wine, such as cava from Spain (white)

In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the ginger and 1 of the (optional) kaffir lime leaf halves until the ginger is coarsely mashed. Add the tequila, lime juice, curaçao, ginger agave syrup and ice. Shake vigorously until frothy and cold; tiny ice crystals will appear after about 15 seconds of shaking. Strain into a 6 oz martini glass and top with the sparkling wine. (You may have to use a fine mesh strainer.)

Bruise the other half of the lime leaf by slapping it between your palms to release the aroma. Float it on top of the drink and serve immediately.


Ginger Agave Syrup
makes about ½ cup

½ cup rich simple syrup (2 parts evaporated cane juice sugar to 1 part water. Boiled, sugar dissolved, and cooled) or light agave syrup
¼ cup (about 1 oz) finely chopped ginger (no need to peel)

Measure the agave or rich simple syrup and 2 tablespoons water into a small saucepan. Set over medium heat and add the ginger. When the mixture reaches a simmer, time 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and cool to room temperature; strain.

The syrup will keep for a month or more, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.

Pitcher Recipe
makes: 8 cocktails

16 slices ginger the thickness of a quarter (no need to peel) coarsely chopped
8 fresh kaffir lime leaves, cut in half lengthwise, where the leaf is indented (optional)
1 ½ cups 100% blue agave blanco tequila
½ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup orange curaçao or other triple sec
¼ cup ginger agave syrup
ice
1 cup sparkling wine, such as cava from Spain

In the bottom of a pitcher, muddle the ginger and half of the (optional) kaffir lime leaves until the ginger is coarsely mashed. Add the tequila, lime juice, curaçao, and ginger agave syrup. Stir, cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice and pour in 2/3 cup of the margarita mixture (be sure to include some of the muddled ginger and lime leaf). Shake and strain into two 6 oz martini glasses, then top each with sparkling wine. Repeat for the remaining margaritas. If using the lime leaves, bruise them between palms, and float a piece on top of each drink.

* Fresh Kaffir lime leaves can be found in Asian markets or well stocked groceries with the packaged herbs.

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