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DRINK

Remix: The Margarita

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Of all the classic cocktails I've written about in Remix so far, the margarita is the one I almost didn't want to mess with. A perfect margarita - not one of those neon-green adult Slurpees, but the real thing, made with fresh lime juice and served in a salt-rimmed glass - is the ideal tangy summer cocktail, with its combo of salty bite, sweet lime and soft, earthy tequila.

That said, this updated margarita is one of my favorite Remixes yet. It allows the silvery-clean flavor of the tequila to shine through, but it's a complex, rounded cocktail, herbal, spicy, tart but not sour. Keep in mind that fresh pineapple (juice and whole fruit) is key to balancing the sweetness, and grilling the pineapple slices further brings out the sugar. If you choose to skip the grilled fruit, you may need to compensate with a touch more agave. (If you choose to use canned pineapple drink instead of good-quality juice, you might as well just slop it into a red cup with some Don Crappio and stir it with a menthol 100.) The mole bitters at the end add a nice aroma, but aren't necessary. Now go get your fiesta on, and don't eat any worms.

Classic Margarita

• 2 ounces tequila

• 1 ounce triple sec

• 1 ounce fresh lime juice

• kosher salt

• lime wedge

Rub lime wedge around the rim of a glass, then dip the rim in a salt-filled saucer.

Combine tequila, triple sec and lime juice in an ice-filled shaker; shake well and strain into the salt-rimmed glass, over ice or neat.

Remixed Margarita

• 1 slice fresh pineapple (about 1 inch thick)

• 1-4 slices serrano chili *

• about 2 tablespoons cilantro

(stems and leaves OK)

• 3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

• 2 ounces pineapple juice **

• 2 ounces silver tequila ***

• 1/2 teaspoon light agave

• 4 drops Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters

First, grill the pineapple (on a barbecue or stovetop grill pan) until it has dark-brown caramelized stripes. Set aside to cool.

Put the chili, cilantro and lime juice in a cocktail shaker and muddle thoroughly. (Seriously, mash the hell out of it.) Cut the pineapple slice in half and set aside one piece for garnish. Chop the other one and put the pieces in the shaker. Muddle again.

Add ice and pour in pineapple juice, tequila and agave. Shake to a count of 10 and strain into a rocks glass, over ice or neat. Drop in the bitters - don't stir - and garnish with a chunk of grilled pineapple.

* Note: Chili peppers, like a tolerance for heat, vary. Taste the pepper first.

** Note: DO NOT use canned pineapple juice, a disgusting tin-flavored substance. If you don't have a juicer, Lakewood and Knudsen both sell decent natural juice.

*** Note: I used Avión Silver, but any good-quality blanco will do.

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