Mango Jalapeño Margarita for Chelsea

I've been getting into cocktails lately.Way long ago, when I was in my thirties, I found my comfort zone was a glass of wine because it was predictable.  Cocktails always tasted too sweet or too weak and opening a bottle of wine was so much easier than getting ingredients for a cocktail. But in my recent empty-nest stage of life, with only two people to feed at night and no homework to be done, I have found time to experiment with cocktails! This one took a village to perfect, but perfect we did so you will be pleased that we went to all this effort for you. You are welcome.

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It started at a bar.  I went out for a cocktail with One And Only Son (who turned 21 last year) and I must have been feeling adventurous because I ordered the special margarita.  It was good.  It was not great.  But I liked the concept.  Mangos for sweetness, jalapeño for a hint of spice, and tequila because, well, I like tequila.

It seemed the perfect drink to celebrate our "adopted" daughter Chelsea's graduation from Pepperdine University.  Chelsea, her parents and her boyfriend were joining us at our SandyShack (the location of Chelsea's 21st birthday just a year prior) for a summer celebration before Chelsea started her REAL job in the REAL world!  The fact that she had a REAL job to go to was worthy of a BIG celebration. Jobs don't come easy these days, even for college graduates.

Chelsea's mom Pamela is one of my two favorite "mixologists" so I planned to enlist her help creating the perfect cocktail to celebrate Chelsea. (To see more of her tantalizing cocktails, visit Pam's blog.)  I knew we would have a houseful of tasters at the ready so I was ready to bring on the cocktails! Preparations began before their arrival when I infused my favorite tequila with fresh mangos and jalapeños.  Then I assembled all the ingredients that I thought we needed for our creation so Pamela and I could go to work creating a delectable cocktail to toast our graduate. The results were gorgeous and it was a delicious kickoff to our celebratory weekend.

But Pamela and I had some ideas along the way to help our cocktail to perfection...more mango flavor, stirred not shaken, lots of ice, etc.  I recruited my other favorite mixologist MaryAnne to assist with round two. And my tasters Debby and Hubby were standing by to "assist".  With our laboratory set up, we mixed and tasted, and just to be sure, we tasted again.  Debby wasn't quite sure so she tasted one more time!

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We are sure.  This one is worth the effort. Cheers to Chelsea.  Cheers to my mixologists.  Cheers to my tasters. Working has never been so fun.

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"There is a good reason they call these ceremonies 'commencement exercises'. Graduation is not the end, it's the beginning." -Orrin Hatch

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Mango Jalapeño Margarita for Chelsea

To prepare the infused tequila: 1 750 ml bottle of Patron Silver Tequila or your favorite tequila (3 generous cups) 2 or 3 fresh mangos, peeled and sliced off the pit 2 fresh jalapeños, sliced (discard stem)

Three to four days prior to serving, stir together the tequila, mango and jalapeños in a large container.  Refrigerate. When ready to serve, strain into clean container. Mix the fruit around with a spoon in the strainer and allow time to drain fully. (Someone, not me but someone, might just want to save those infused pieces of fruit to eat at some point during the night. Just sayin'.)

To serve: 1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice, plus 1 T for glasses 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice 1/2 cup agave nectar 1 T sugar 1 T salt 6-8oz sparkling water fresh mint sliced jalapeño 

Mix the cup of lime juice, 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup agave into a clean container. Put tablespoon of lime juice on small plate and mix salt and sugar onto a second small plate.  One at a time, dip rim of serving glasses into lime juice and then into salt/sugar mixture, rolling to coat rim with salt and sugar.

Mix into a measuring cup 1 cup of the infused tequila, 1/2 cup of the lemon/lime mixture and 1/4 cup sparkling water. (This makes 2-3 drinks depending on the size of glass so the entire recipe makes 6-9 drinks.) Fill glasses with lots of ice (I like the big square cubes) and pour in drink mixture. Garnish with a slice of jalapeño and large sprig of mint. Cheers!

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