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?
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.