Harissa Explains It All a sweet and spicy #PerfectMargarita with Patrón Tequila

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Patrón Tequila. Recipes and ideas are my own.

If one tv show summed up my preadolescent life, it would be Clarissa Explains It All. God I loved that show. I could probably attribute it to making me even more of a quirky kid; the clothes, the chili pepper lights around the window, a boy for a best friend, the “I don’t care about fitting in” messages. Clarissa was a strong willed, independent female that, myself being the eldest sister in the family, I could look up to for inspiration.

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comOk Elana but what does this story have to do with Margaritas?

Well, everything. Ok, well not everything but that quirky spirit instilled in me at that young age still abounds and often finds its way into my life in all sorts of ways. Maybe you’ve noticed on this site that I get a little quirky from time to time? Today we’re getting a little quirky with some margaritas and a tube of harissa paste.

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comThere is nothing wrong with the classic margarita. I love them. I love that there is a day devoted to them, even if it falls in February (?!). But I get bored of the same old same old and I never can leave good enough alone. I am always on the lookout for my #PerfectMargarita.

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comI’ve always been a big fan of having a little savory along with my sweet, and Patrón’s Silver tequila is a lovely base for doing just that. Patrón Silver has a slightly citrus and peppery flavor profile that is smooth enough to mix into a great tasting margarita.  My sweet element comes from ripe Champagne mangoes. Their juicy nectar cuts down on added sweetener but also gives a subtle tart bite that some freshly squeezed lime juice highlights. I’ve finished this off today with a touch of chili salt to remind the palate that they’re in for some SPICE before they even taste the first sip.Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.com

Ready to get quirky? Let’s get mixing.

2 ounces Patrón Silver tequila*
4 1/2″ cubes mango, Champagne variety used here
1/4 barspoon harissa paste (more or less to taste)
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
chili salt for rim (like Tajín or similar)
lime peel for garnish

  • In the bottom of a shaker tin, muddle the mangoes with the harissa and lime juice until broken down. Add in the tequila and simple syrup and fill the shaker 2/3 with ice. Shake until chilled about 20 seconds. Rim a rocks glass with the chili salt by dipping the edge in lime juice then the salt. Add in a single large ice cube. Strain into the rocks glass and garnish with the lime peel.

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comRight now THIS is my #PerfectMargarita. Tell me all about yours!


And if you’d love to have a few options for Cinco de Mayo this year, check out the winning cocktail from Patrón’s Margarita of the Year contest. This contest began on National Margarita Day (of course), and featured margaritas made in 7 categories: herbal, spicy, smoky, savory, modern, tropical and classic.

Over 50,000 votes were cast (including a vote from the one and only cocktail historian David Wondrich) and the Rosa Picante Margarita was IT; so you know it’s going to be good. Bartender Jordan Corney from San Antonio, TX was inspired by the classic margarita and the El Diablo, two of his favorite cocktails, and adding the modern component of jalapeño oil to impart texture and complexity to the drink. And check out this pretty sexy cocktail video of Jordan making the drink and talking about what inspired him to create it (it makes me want one RIGHT NOW).

Rosa Picante Margarita

Created by Jordan Corney, Bohanan’s (San Antonio, TX)

2 oz Patrón Silver
.5 oz Patrón Citrónge Lime
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
.5 oz ginger syrup
Bar spoon jalapeño oil
Dash rosewater
Rose petal sea salt

  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe that has been half-rimmed with rose sea salt, and top with a dash of rose water. Garnish with a rose petal, if available.

For more information about Patrón Tequilas and liqueurs, please visit patrontequila.com.

*For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Smoky Beer Sangrita

Smoky Beer Sangrita Cocktail // stirandstrain.comMemorial Day weekend kicks off the official start of grilling season. It also kicks off cut off shorts season and burn until you look like a lobster season. It’s a season of magic.

In my efforts for making your drinking experiences more efficient this summer, I will have a bunch of upcoming recipes that are batched for your convenience. Take 10 minutes the night before, or first thing in the morning, to put together the bases, and then top off as needed day of. Easy.

First up is a drink I made for Serious Eats (guys, drinks is no longer its own site, it’s incorporated into just one big Eats site now, so don’t get confused) where I use BEER as the alcohol base. Yes, yet another beer cocktail on this site for the year. It is the topper for a spicy, smoky sangrita-like base that you can make ahead of time.Smoky Beer Sangrita Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sangrita-like might be stretching it; it’s really just sangrita made with a bunch of delicious citrus with a dollop of harissa. Not familiar with harissa? If you like spice and smoke you’ll like this peppery paste that has its roots in North African cuisine. It’s not normally used in drinks, but I love the extra level of spice it adds. Also, a little goes a long way, so you can keep it around to experiment with food later.

Usually, sangrita is just the sidekick to a shot of tequila, but I love the rich flavors of tomato and citrus so much I thought it deserved its own spot at the bar (or backyard BBQ) as a cocktail. Since it’s a low alcohol drink, you could easily sip on these all afternoon, playing horseshoes or whatever it is people do outside.

Sangrita Base

1/2 teaspoon harissa, or more to taste
8 ounces tomato juice
6 ounces freshly squeezed juice from about 2 grapefruits
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces freshly squeezed juice from about 2 oranges
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 2 lemons
2 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 2 to 3 limes

For Your Cocktail

Grapefruit wedge
Coarse smoked sea salt
4 ounces Sangrita Base
4 ounces Sculpin IPA, or any hoppy IPA

  • To make the base, in a pitcher, whisk together harissa, black pepper and tomato juice. Add grapefruit juice, orange juice, lemon and lime juice. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 8 hours maximum.
  • To make the cocktail, wet the rim of a highball glass with grapefruit wedge, dip moistened edge in smoked sea salt. Add ice and 4 ounces of the sangrita base. Top with 4 ounces of IPA. Garnish with grapefruit wedge and serve.

Citrus is an ideal match for a hoppy IPA. The Sculpin IPA from Ballast imparts a lot of grapefruit and lemon in the flavor, as well as in the aroma, which not only compliments the tomato-citrus base, but also adds some needed bitterness to round out the drink. With beer cocktails, the effervescent quality will significantly lift a heavier based drink which can sometimes seem like a challenge to drink. It can also provide a smoother, creamy texture, making the drink feel more like a “cocktail” and less like juice (or in this case Gazpacho). If the Sculpin is not available in your area, look for a beer with this kind of citrus profile. And at the end of the day, if you run out of the base, this beer pairs excellently with barbecue too.