Tom and I both feel a kinship with the Southwest, so it’s no surprise we both like a fiery burst of flavor in our food. Not the four-alarm blaze that makes your eyes water. I’m talking about a tangy accompaniment that is just enough of a solo performer to make a familiar taste new again, and such is the case here with the dependable margarita. I’m passionate about ginger. My husband can wax poetic about the kick of a ripe jalapeño. Together, these two ingredients pack an invigorating punch. There’s just enough tang to energize this potion without having to worry you’re going to get burned. The tequila mellows out things, so the heat lies on your tongue but doesn’t overpower your taste buds.
For the margarita:
Using the back of a wooden spoon, crush together the sea salt and lime zest in a small bowl. Rub the lime wedge around the rim of a margarita glass, and dip the rim in the salt mixture; fill the glass with ice.
Muddle the jalapeño and ginger in a cocktail shaker to release the flavors; fill halfway with ice. Add the tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur, and simple syrup. Cover with the lid, and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into the prepared margarita glass. Garnish with lime wedges and jalapeño slices, if desired.
For the simple syrup:
Bring the sugar and water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium; simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.