When the temperature inches up above eighty degrees, heavy libations with lots of liquors give way to easier-to-drink summertime cocktails. Daiquiris, sours, and--this being Orange County--margaritas. Most margaritas are saccharine syrups, and most flavored margaritas are even worse, so it was with a jaded eye that I read the special on the board at the bar at Memphis at the Santora. Habanero-mango margarita? Seriously?
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Yes, seriously. Ricky Yarnall, bartender extraordinaire, promised its goodness; it's just a standard margarita, with a bilious-looking orange habanero-mango simple syrup in place of agave or regular 1:1 sugar water.
Well, he was right; shaken and served on the rocks, it hit first with sweetness, then with sour, and then--WHAM--with chile heat. What is it about habaneros that makes their particular brand of capsaicin torture shine through everything? Take a second sip, somewhat desperately, and the sugar soothes the angry throat. By the time you have to worry about the last fiery sip, the ice--deliberately poured into the cup from the shaker--has cooled it down somewhat.
It's summer in California--margarita time once again.