Spicy Margarita

Margaritas never go out of style.

When Mitch and I went to Chicago last year to visit my brother Dan, we made sure to have several reservations booked beforehand. We absolutely love to dine out- especially at notable restaurants that have earned their stripes by consistently putting out good food and drinks and having amazing service. One of the places we made sure to visit is The Aviary – one of Grant Achatz’s restaurants in The Alinea Group. The Aviary is a swanky cocktail lounge with modern decor, a comfortable ambiance, great service staff, and delicious small bites paired with their exceptional, extremely creative cocktails. I promise you, you’ve never experienced cocktails like this.

There is no big, loud, bright sign at the front of the restaurant letting the public know where The Aviary is… there’s actually no sign at all. When you arrive, there is a man outside the building who asks for your name and radios his team inside to let them know that the reservation has arrived. It felt very exclusive and I loved it. After we were seated, we were taken on a cocktail journey that I can’t even begin to explain. It’s something you must experience if you love crafty cocktails and appetizing small plates.

The Aviary just released their cocktail book and it is probably one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen. The pictures jump off of the pages and each cocktail has the most unique names… the entire book is perfection. Mitch and I ordered the book to use as our sign-in book at our wedding. I can’t wait to display it!

We wanted to start slow and experiment with an easy cocktail first so we decided to prepare this delicious spicy mezcal margarita with fresno pepper-infused ice cubes. The results were magic.

For this recipe you will need:

Fresno ice cube:

800 grams water

50 grams juiced fresno peppers

Agave syrup:

1 part hot water

2 parts agave

Mezcal mixture:

1/2 cup Mezcal

1 Tbsp simple syrup

Juice of 1 orange


2 oz Tequila (good Tequila! We used

1/2 oz Mezcal mixture

.75 oz lime juice

.5 oz agave syrup

3 dashes bitters

  1. Begin by preparing the ice cubes. Using a juicer, juice the fresno peppers and strain any seeds left behind.
  2. Combine the fresno pepper juice with the water and pour into ice molds. Freeze until completely set, about 3-4 hours.
  3. Bring the water to a simmer. Turn off the heat and stir in the agave. Set aside.
  4. Combine the mezcal, simple syrup and fresh orange juice. Set aside.
  5. To assemble the drink, add 2 oz Tequila with 1/2 oz of the Mezcal mixture,.75 oz fresh lime juice, .5 oz simple syrup and 3 dashes of bitters.
  6. Shake shake shake pour over the fresno pepper ice cubes.
  7. Sip & Enjoy!!

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