Charcoal Jalapeño Margarita

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Lately I've been seeing a new food trend popping up everywhere that brings a moody statement to anything it touches: activated charcoal! After the whole face mask craze, I started seeing it in lemonade at juice shops, ice cream, smoothie bowls, and even bread, turning everything a deep black color. First you're a little weirded out by it, but about 2 seconds later you're imagining all the oohs and ahhs your black cocktails will bring to your social gathering. A few weeks ago our family went to Madi and Brian's engagement party, and she came up with the genius idea to put charcoal in the jalapeño margaritas they were serving. OMG they were to die for, and worked so well to make in bulk too (with the help of an electric citrus juicer that is - next on my list to purchase)! We thought it would be fun to share the recipe here. I also made the addition of a black salt rim and single large ice blocks to add even more edge to this party cocktail makeover!

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DISCLAIMER: While activated charcoal has some great detoxing benefits (I've even heard it can prevent hangovers which is convenient for this cocktail), it has also been said to counteract certain medications like birth control or antidepressants. I have no real knowledge on this- maybe just do a little research or talk to your doctor first if you're concerned about it.

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MAKE IT (1 serving):

2oz tequila

1oz fresh lime juice

.5 oz simple syrup (or a few drops of Stevia if you want to make it a skinny margarita)

.5 oz Cointreau (this is an optional ingredient for margaritas in my opinion - you can leave it out and just add a bit more simple syrup if you don't any)

1/8 teaspoon of activated charcoal powder

Black salt (I got mine at Williams Sonoma and had to run it through a salt grinder)


Jalapeño slices (amount depends on the heat you like - I use 3-4 per cocktail and I like it spicy)

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Put a little honey into a dish and dip the glass rim. This will serve as your salt glue. Dip the rim into the salt (in a separate dish). Add your ice block and a jalapeño slice to the glass. In a shaker combine some regular ice, tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, and the rest of the jalapeño slices. Shake and strain into the glass. Cheers!

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Photography by Ashley Burns


Serrano Watermelon Margarita

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No matter how hard I try to tackle my daily To Do list, there are always at least two or three things that didn't quite make it to being crossed off.  But how good does it feel when you can actually look at your list at the end of the day and say you did everything you were hoping to do that day? It's a huge win in my book. Lately I've been having a lot of days where no To Do list item is avoidable, which can make for a stressful day. But when it's over, it MUST be celebrated with a margarita in the backyard, am I right? You guys know I'm not one to fuss over my cocktail making, even though I love for them to taste like I did. I'm not usually making syrups on the stove (maybe one day I'll get a bit more willing) but rather I'm looking for what I have in the fridge to create something unique and special that can be whipped up in a minute. Today in partnership with Tropicana, I'm sharing this DELISH serrano watermelon margarita using their premium watermelon juice that's just begging to be an easy cocktail mixer for those impromptu backyard celebrations!

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2 oz Tropicana Premium Watermelon juice

1.5 oz tequila

.5 oz Cointreau

Juice of one lime

Serrano slices

Stevia drops (about 10)

Watermelon and lime slices for garnish

Chili lime spice (Tajín or Trader Joe's chile lime)

Rim the glass with lime juice and a little sugar or honey for stickiness, then dip in the spice (I spread it on a small plate). In a mixer with a handful of ice (I put mine in the blender to create a crushed effect) add the watermelon drink, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, serrano slices (depending on how much heat you want), and stevia drops. Shake, pour and serve with watermelon/lime garnishes. Enjoy and celebrate a To Do list well done!

This post is sponsored by Tropicana.

Photography by Ashley Burns


Martinis With Pharmacie

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I've always had a thing for crafted cocktails and have tried my hand at many over the years. But I have so much respect for the true professionals who not only know the classics like the back of their hands but can come up with new concoctions that are geniusly experimental yet extremely palatable. Talmadge Lowe of Pharmacie is one of the goodies. I remember when he and his team of dapper bartenders started serving cocktails at a lot of events around LA, and when I would spot a bowtie behind the bar, I knew we were in for a night of quality craft cocktails. I recently had a chance to hang with Tal at HiLo (check out my feature on that here if you missed it) and martinis were on the menu. Today he's sharing two versions with us: the classic, and his own take called the Starlet. I think it's time for a martini renaissance, don't you?

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First, a little history lesson... "The origination of the Martini is a bit unclear, as many things are in the history of cocktails. It may be a direct descendant of a cocktail called The Martinez, created near San Fransisco in the 1860s. It may be be named after the Italian vermouth brand or, maybe a bartender from New York. We’ll never know. But what we do know is that a cold glass of gin and vermouth have stood the test of time. We’re still talking about them, we’re still drinking them.

As with it’s history, it’s recipe is also a subject of debate. I give mine here. It’s the way I prefer to drink them, but you will be the ultimate judge as to whether your palate requires more or less vermouth. Or an olive...

3R1A3826 copy THE MARTINI

3oz Gin 1 oz Dry Vermouth Combine ingredients over ice into a cocktail carafe or mixing glass and stir steadily for 45 seconds. Strain into a cold (straight from the freezer) cocktail glass. I prefer a Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

For gin, I like a solid London Dry (Sipsmith for example or even Plymouth) but the New American gins (Spring 44, Barr Hill) are playing with herbs and botanicals in a whole new way and if you are not a traditionalist like me, I suggest you take that route."

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What's the inspiration behind the Starlet? "The Starlet cocktail stared with my dislike of dirty Martinis. I wanted to create a”clean” martini that deviated just slightly from the original recipe. I also wanted the cocktail to remain boozy and decidedly aromatic. Mint seemed right for that brisk, crisp, clean note and vodka for the non-gin drinkers. We kept the vermouth, as is.

The name came from an image I had of Marilyn Monroe or some other young starlet opting for one of these at Ciro’s, instead of the traditional martini.

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3R1A3922 copy THE STARLET

3 oz Vodka 3/4  oz mint syrup* 3/4 oz Dry Vermouth

Combine ingredients over ice into a cocktail carafe or mixing glass and stir steadily for 45 seconds. Strain into a cold (straight from the freezer) cocktail glass. I prefer a coupe for this one. Add mint leaf garnish.

*Combine equal parts water and sugar (I cup of each) in a small pot and heat until the sugar dissolves.  For mint simple syrup, add 4-5 bunches of mint to the syrup while hot and let steep for 2-3 hours. Always let it cool to room temperature before using. Refrigerating over night is preferred."

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Thanks so much to Tal and HiLo for having us and showing us all the ways of the world of cocktails! I might just have to make this a monthly series. You know, research.

Photography by Ashley Burns