Tequila Trifecta: Grilled Pineapple-Jalapeño Margaritas

Frozen grilled pineapple-jalepeno margarita

Frozen grilled pineapple- jalapeno margarita

My girlfriend Big Bold Cab texted me, “My girlfriends want me to make pineapple margaritas this weekend?!”  Oh, BBC, you know this is the perfect second H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out A Gal/Guy, Yeah?) for A Bourbon Gal.  We’ve got your back!

Grilled Pineapple.  It’s fantastic stuff – wonderful on teriyaki chicken burgers, served with pound cake and ice cream, or on grilled Hawaiian pizza (shh, don’t tell The Macallan; he thinks fruit on pizza portends the end of days).  But I always have a few spears left over, hanging around in my fridge wilting sadly, waiting for a greater purpose.  Something larger than chicken salad; greater than yogurt smoothies.

And, my friends, I have found grilled pineapple’s true and righteous calling: Tequila Infusion.

I’m probably not inventing the wheel on this one.  In fact, we’ve seen pineapple infused tequila, and jalapeño-infused tequila featured on foodie boozy sites for years.  So maybe a grilled pineapple-jalapeño infusion isn’t original, but there’s only so much time I’m going to spend on Google this afternoon trying to figure out if this is brand-new information, folks, so here’s what I’ve been using and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Grilled Pineapple-Jalepeno Infused Tequila.  Sweet spice in a jar, my friends.

Grilled Pineapple-Jalepeno Infused Tequila. Sweet spice in a jar, my friends.

Grilled Pineapple-Jalapeño (GPJ) Infused Tequila (Method):

To a lidded clean 1 quart glass jar add

3-4 spears grilled pineapple

1 grilled jalapeño, seeds removed

3 cups tequila (no need to use your best stuff, here)

Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 1 week.  Remove jalapeño when the heat is at a level you like or it will keep getting stronger.   This infusion is great for sipping on the rocks with a splash of ginger ale, or in either of the following margarita recipes.

Grilled Pineapple-Jalapeño Margarita, rocks (makes 1)

Grilled Pineapple-Jalepeno Margarita with Hawaiian Alaea sea salt rim.

Grilled Pineapple-Jalapeno Margarita with Hawaiian Alaea sea salt rim.

Rub the rim of a margarita or martini glass with a lime wedgeCoat the rim with crushed pink Hawaiian Alaea sea salt; fill glass with ice

To a cocktail shaker add:

The juice of 2 fresh limes

1.5 oz. GPJ tequila

0.5 oz. Cointreau

0.5 oz. agave nectar

Shake well to combine, and pour over ice.  Add a wedge of lime and a chunk of grilled pineapple for garnish.

Frozen Pineapple-Jalapeño Margarita (makes 2 extra-large cocktails, or 4 Utah-regulated pours)

I’m usually not a fan of margarita in its slushy form, but this is a fantastic exception.  Be careful, the tequila-soaked pineapple packs an alcoholic punch!  I’m not sure how much it adds to the proof, but it will knock you on your ass faster than you can say “who’s the designated driver?”

To a blender add:

2 cups ice

Juice of 5 fresh limes

1 ½ spears tequila-soaked grilled pineapple

3 oz. GPJ tequila

1 oz. Cointreau

1.5 oz. agave nectar

If you like things spicy, also throw in a couple of slices of your tequila-soaked grilled jalapeño here, too.  Insanely yum.

Blend until ice is uniformly crushed and all ingredients are frothy.  Pour into margarita or martini glasses, and garnish with pineapple and lime.


A Sassy Orange Julep

Bourbon-Campari Sassy Orange Julep

Bourbon-Campari Sassy Orange Julep

It’s been one of those days.  I ruined a whole batch of strawberry-rhubarb compote by leaving it on the back burner for too long unattended and it totally burnt to the bottom of the pan and splattered all over the stove.  The kids are in meltdown because it’s way past pajama time on a school night “but it’s still light outside mooooooommm.”  The dogs have defeated garden fence version 8.0 and trampled another generation of heirloom tomato plants, and have the baby pullets so freaked out by their barking that the chicks are huddled in a corner of the coop.  (You’d think our dogs would be used to chickens after all this time, but as Sprite said, “they can’t help it, Mom.  Those chicks are, like, bite-sized.”)

This is the cocktail I made tonight.   To remind me that Spring means mint straight from the un-molested corner of the garden.  And frothy Campari cocktails.  And that compared to the truly horrific things that can and do happen to very good people, my slice of frustration is pretty damned small.  I can sit in my lovely chair by the chicken coop and enjoy my view of the portion of the garden that wasn’t pummeled by Labradors.   Most likely the tomatoes will recover, there will be more than enough rhubarb in my future, and our pullets will grow up to be feisty and productive egg layers.  And school will be out of session soon and we’ll all get to enjoy late nights playing outside until it gets dark.

Cheers, y’all.  Here’s to Spring.

Sassy Orange Julep

4-5 fresh mint leaves (plus more for garnish)

1.5 oz. bourbon

0.5 oz. Campari

The juice of ½ orange

1 oz. simple syrup (if y’all have some of that minted simple syrup left, now’s the time to use it!)

Enough ice to cover ingredients

Place all ingredients and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until frothy and chilled through.  Pour into a tall glass and add another 1-2 oz. of club soda if it’s a particularly warm day.  Garnish with mint & and orange slice.

Sunday Brunch: DIY Red Beer Bar & a Layered Potato Baked Omelet

DIY Red Beer (AKA "Beery Mary") Bar

DIY Red Beer (AKA “Beery Mary”) Bar

In much of the rest of the USA, Sunday Brunch is a competitive social endeavor.  Restaurants, soccer moms, sports tailgaters, BBQ enthusiasts, and country clubs vie for popularity in the brunch time slot:   That halcyon time when everyone leaves church, and are starving, but want to show off their fancy duds in public before they head home and put on sweatpants.

A Bourbon Gal and Hoss on Hops= Trouble

A Bourbon Gal and Hoss on Hops= Trouble

Not so much in Utah.  For most of the Beehive state’s denizens, Sunday means church and family, with neither commercial nor social deviation outside this box.  It goes without saying that both caffeine and booze are verboten.  My LDS* friends also often fast as part of their weekend of prayer and mindfulness.  I will repeat in case you missed it the first time:  No coffee.  No Mimosas.  Non-Atkins induced food deprivation. I know, I’m constantly amazed at their fortitude, too.

In case you are still hyperventilating at the thought, perhaps you just need a little re-visualization. Since I moved to Utah over 8 years ago, now Sunday morning means a wide open playing field for we non-Mormon remainders:  Bring on first tracks in the fresh powder!  Hassle-free trips to Trader Joe’s, Home Depot and Costco!  Irish pubs showing European football (but you can only get a Bloody Mary after 12)!  Sure, kids, you can play in the street- there’s no traffic!  Breathe deep, you’ll get through it too.

Okay, so, back to today.  This weekend it was my turn to host our rotating “beer-vana” group.  Between baseball, lacrosse, turkey hunting season and the general mayhem of spring, it’s hard to find a weekend night when we can all meet up with all of our kids.  Thus: we met for Sunday Brunch.

Saketini and Smoked Porter digging in.  Well, Sake will after her Pepcid kicks in #asianproblems  Love ya, girlfriend!

Saketini and Smoked Porter digging in. Well, Sake will after her Pepcid kicks in #asianproblems Love ya, girlfriend!

My buddy IPA (aka the beer blogger “Hoss on Hops“) and the other members of our sketchy beer club came over with their collective spouses and kids.  IPA supplied the brew from his seemingly magical beer fridge, and I provided all of the “Red Beer” fixin’s.  A Red Beer is basically brew mixed with any combination of tomato juice, Clamato (yes= clam juice + tomato), spice, and citrus.  Some folks like to have a 1 part tomato juice to 2 parts beer ratio.  Others go half-and-half, or mostly beer with a splash of tomato; or just beer, spice and lime (like a traditional Mexican-style Michelada).  That’s the great thing about the mixing bar- everyone gets it just the way they want it! Here are some of our favorite combinations:

  • Durango smoked sea salt rim; lime juice, Tapatio hot sauce; tomato juice; Negra Modelo beer
  • Old Bay spiced rim; lemon juice, Worcestershire, and Crystal hot sauce; Clamato juice; Red Stripe beer
  • Ancho chile powder and sea salt rim; lime juice, Cholula hot sauce; tomato juice; HopNotch IPA
  • Bacon salt rim; lemon juice, Worcestershire, Baron scotch bonnet hot sauce; a tiny splash of tomato juice; Carta Blanca or Pacifico beer

For nibbles alongside our cocktails, we kept it kid-friendly with chips and salsas.  I also made appetizer-sized bites of my modified Spanish-style potato tortilla, which can be made using dinner leftovers (keep those extra steamed potatoes, grilled peppers, and green beans. You’ll use ‘em!).

I set out a “build-your-own-sandwich” spread for grazing with lots of bread, deli meat, cheese, and condiment choices.  My gals Saketini and Lemon Drop brought delicious fruit and salads.  Clean-up was a snap.  I only used one vessel for actual cooking:  score!

Now, time for my nap.

 Layered Potato & Egg Baked Omelet (serves 8-10 as an appetizer)Layering your ingredients

2 medium red potatoes (skin on) steamed until soft but still firm, sliced into 1/8” thick rounds

½ cup steamed thin green beans, cut into 1-2” long pieces

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (or, if you like it spicy, two roasted red jalepenos – YUM!)

7 eggs

¼ cup half-and-half

2 tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

2 Tbs. Sriracha hot sauce

½ cup chopped green onions

Method (Preheat oven to 350 degrees):

Spray a 9”x9” ceramic or glass baking dish with vegetable oil or cooking spray.  Line the bottom and sides of the dish with a sheet of parchment paper (this helps prevent the omelet from sticking and makes it easier to cut later).  Spray a light coating of oil on the parchment paper.

Layered Potato Baked Omelet with Sriracha sauce

Layered Potato Baked Omelet with Sriracha sauce

Spread the sliced potatoes in one layer equally over the bottom of the baking dish; overlapping pieces as necessary to fit them all in.  Sprinkle green beans and red pepper evenly over the top of the potatoes.  In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, and half-and-half until well combined.  Pour slowly over the vegetables to cover evenly.

Bake about 35-40 minutes, or until puffy and cooked through.

Meanwhile, combine yogurt and Sriracha sauce in a small jar or squirt bottle.  Shake to combine well.

After the omelet is done, let rest on the counter until cooled enough to touch (about 15 minutes).  Invert onto a large cutting board, and gently remove parchment layer from the omelet.  Cut into 1” cubes with a sharp knife.

Arrange on a platter; drizzle generously with Sriracha-yogurt sauce; sprinkle on all the green onions.  Great warm or at room temperature (reserve sauce & onion garnish until just before serving).  Enjoy!

*LDS is the preferred abbreviation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  AKA, The Mormons.

Our first H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?): Cucumber Gimlet

Of course we take requests here at A Bourbon Gal!

My girlfriend Dirty Martini wrote me, “I can’t make a decent cucumber gimlet. Help!”

Cucumber Gimlet

Cucumber Gimlet

Now, first of all, my gal Dirty Martini has MAD cocktail skillz, so I’m sure her gimlet is pretty tasty, but she is always looking for a more-perfect beverage. And if you’re going to spring for some Very Good Gin (which she does, like Hendrick’s) you want it to be awesome.

Back in the day—meaning Prohibition, gin’s sparkly heyday—a gimlet was usually made with equal parts gin and sweetened lime juice. Another popular gin cocktail, the Gin Rickey, used almost equal parts gin, club soda, and lime juice. Post-WWII, gimlet recipes using lime juice with vodka and either powdered sugar or simple syrup often replaced gin-based cocktails.

Nowadays, if you order a gimlet at a bar you will get a multitude of options: gin or (usually) vodka, lime or another citrus (lemon, grapefruit), and any number of vegetal, herbaceous, and/or fruity additions. A harbinger of the summer party season, super-refreshing cucumber gimlets usually contain vodka, cucumber juice or purée, lime, and sweetener (sugar or syrup). With some pretty cucumber pinwheels in a tall narrow pitcher, cucumber gimlets are lovely made in bulk for quick and easy serving at your next garden party.

Cucumber Gimlet (makes one)

I like using those tiny thin-skinned “cocktail” cucumbers now available in most produce sections. Just a gentle wash and you are good to go: no peeling off the tough bitter skin or scraping out seeds needed. I also like how agave nectar distributes evenly through the cocktail with a nice finish.

1 “cocktail” cucumber, thinly sliced (reserve 2-3 thin slices for garnish), muddled furiously in the bottom of your cocktail shaker (really- juice the hell out of it)

1 tsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice (about ¼ lime)

½ tsp. agave nectar

2 oz. gin

4-5 cubes ice

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake until very cold and frothy. Strain into a martini glass containing 2-3 cubes fresh ice. Garnish with thin cucumber slices.

Suddenly Summer!: Cucumber-Basil Martini with a Salish smoked black sea salt rim

Cucumber Basil Martini

Cucumber Basil Martini

Holy hot spike, Batman!  We went straight from snow-covered daffodils to wilting tulips to hopeful tomato plants all in one day here in the Wasatch Mountains.  Even broke some early spring temps records yesterday.  In celebration (and yes, respite… I’m not quite ready for the 90s yet) I broke out some of my favorite summer flavors:  cucumber, basil, and the floral melody of gin.  I’ve wanted to try out some of my lovely salt collection for use on more than finishing pan-seared meats, roasted potatoes, and salad dressing.   These salts I’ve gathered mostly at my local Tony Caputo’s Market – where they thoughtfully provide 99 cent sample cups of various and sundry goodness so those fickle souls such as I can dabble and snack before commitment.   In this case, I used a finer-grained black Salish smoked sea salt on top of a cucumber-rubbed glass rim.  Delightful.  Yay for Spring!  Or at least the 3 hours of it we got this year.

A sampling of sea salts.  In this case, I used the Salish Black Smoked Sea Salt from Caputo's Market, but I also like the coarser grained Durango smoked grey salt for this cocktail.

A sampling of sea salts. In this case, I used the Salish Black Smoked Sea Salt from Caputo’s Market, but I also like the coarser grained Durango smoked grey salt for this cocktail.

Cucumber Basil & Smoked black sea salt Martini

Freeze a martini glass, or add to the glass several cubes of ice to chill and set aside.

Just before assembling, rub ½ of the glass rim with the cut edge of a cucumber and dip into the smoked sea salt of your choice.

 To a cocktail shaker, add:

1 small cocktail cucumber, sliced thin (about 4 slices of cucumber- reserve 1 slice for garnish)

4-5 leaves fresh basil

2 oz. very floral gin (I’m a fan of Broker’s for this cocktail)

½ oz. dry vermouth

4-5 ice cubes

Shake vigorously until well-frosted and frothy (about 15 seconds)

Strain into the chilled and salty goodness of that martini glass.  Garnish with a cucumber slice and a sprig of baby basil.

Isn’t that refreshing?

Now, don’t y’all put away your parkas and gloves yet, my mountain friends.  Just having made this cocktail guarantees we’ll have a freezing spell next week.  I’ve got my towels ready to cover my ‘maters, just in case.

Holy Mackerel! Tequila Ceviche

Several folks asked me why I didn’t use the perfectly wonderful opportunity of Cinco de Mayo to share some Southwestern and Mexican-inspired food and cocktail recipes on the blog.  After all, I lived in New Mexico for a while and for 8 years in Arizona.  But I didn’t get it done in time for the 5th because my man The Macallan and I were IN Cabo San Lucas, Mexico last week my friends, celebrating our 19th anniversary.  Without kids.  And quite frankly I was too busy fishing, reading on the beach, and drinking margaritas to send a remote post to the blog.  It was RESEARCH, y’all.

Me, my Roosterfish, and The Macallan's thumb.  We released this beauty, but ate a bunch of mackerel.
Me, my Roosterfish, and The Macallan’s thumb. We released this beauty, but ate a bunch of the mackerel we landed.

Cabo is justifiably famous for its spectacular sport fishing.  The Macallan originally proposed we’d fish four days, but I whittled it down to two with a possible third if we didn’t catch anything after two days.  We hired a guide service, Baja Anglers, for one full day exploring the spectacular beaches on the Sea of Cortez with Grant, and day fishing by boat off the coast of Cabo san Lucas with Capt. Alex and Luis.  We had a terrific time and caught a LOT of fish, which you can see photos of on the Baja Anglers blog (or follow me on Instagram at “abourbongal”).

Fresh-caught mackerel three ways: all of them delicious.

Fresh-caught mackerel three ways: all of them delicious.

After a long day of fishing, the last thing I feel like doing is going back to the rental condo kitchen with its lousy knives, matchbox-sized cutting board and sketchy non-stick pans.  Ugh.  In Cabo, several restaurants have “we’ll cook your catch” specials:  you proudly present your fishy triumph to the waiter and voila! 15-20 minutes later the chef sends out a delicious meal.  It doesn’t get much fresher than that.  At Solomon’s Landing, we had our fresh-caught mackerel prepared in ceviche, cooked with a lemon-pepper sauce, crusted with coconut and fried, and in a Spanish-style tomato based sauce.  The next day, we dined on mackerel cornmeal crusted and deep fried at Maro’s Shrimp House chased down with margaritas the size of our heads.

Battered and fried fresh mackerel, grilled shrimp, and huge margaritas at Maro's Shrimp House.

Battered and fried fresh mackerel, grilled shrimp, and huge margaritas at Maro’s Shrimp House.

Now that I’m back home, I’m more than happy to pull out my gorgeous cutting board and super-sharp hefty knives to do all of the slicing and dicing necessary to pull together my own citrusy ceviche.  Sure, it’s not going to be as fresh as we had in Cabo, but every delicious bite reminds me of Mexico.

Tequila Ceviche

Don’t skimp on the citrus juice here:  all of that acid is necessary to “cook” your fish.  After marinating for a while, you’ll see the fish change from grey to firm, opaque, and white.  A miracle of food science!  And please use fresh-squeezed juice, not that stuff in the bottle.

1 lb. firm fresh fish or shellfish (like snapper, halibut, scallops, shrimp, or any combination of these) cut into ½ inch cubes

½ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (or a combination of lime & lemon)

3 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced

½ cup red onion, diced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced

A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/8 cup)

1 Tbs. olive oil

A generous pinch of sea salt

A splash of tequila (about 1 Tbs.)

Mackerel Ceviche at Solomon's Landing, in the marina of Cabo san Lucas

Mackerel Ceviche at Solomon’s Landing, in the marina of Cabo san Lucas

To a non-reactive casserole dish (ceramic or glass), add all of the ingredients.  Very gently toss to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the coldest part of your refrigerator.  Stir again after 20-30 minutes to make sure all of the pieces of fish are covered with lime juice.   Depending on the type of fish and how big your cubes are, the ceviche should be ready in about an hour.  Garnish with avocado wedges and more fresh cilantro leaves, and serve with tortilla chips.  I like mine with plenty of heat, so I add a few shakes of Mexican hot sauce (like Tapatio) to my plate.