By Mike Augustyniak

Each week, Mike Augustyniak finds a new cocktail from a local mixologist. This week, he heads to Pajarito in St. Paul to check out its Habañero-Cilantro Margarita.

Habañero-Cilantro Margarita
2 oz El Jimador Reposado Tequila
½ oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
¾ oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Cilantro Syrup *
Habañero Tincture ** (to taste)
Fresh Cilantro
Thinly sliced Fresh Habañero

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(credit: CBS)

*To make Cilantro Syrup: blanch 1 bunch cilantro, combine it with ¼ cup water and blend thoroughly. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, or a coffee filter. You should end up with a bright green “cilantro water.” Combine 4 oz. cilantro water with 2 cups of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, simmered together until the sugar dissolves and then brought to room temperature.)

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** To make Habañero Tincture: Add roughly ½ cup coarsely chopped habañero peppers to a small pint size canning jar. Then pour in 1 cup vodka. You want to use an 80-proof vodka. Seal the jar. Allow the tincture to steep for 4 hours to develop the flavors. After the tincture has steeped, strain the mixture through fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, pressing the peppers to squeeze out the liquid. Discard the peppers. Funnel the tincture into a small dropper bottle or shaker bottle that will allow you to dispense a drop or two. A properly made tincture can be stored in a cool dark location and last for years.

Shake all ingredients, except tincture, over ice. Pour into an glass (straight up, on the rocks, salted or unsalted rim; it’s your choice). Add the desired amount of habañero tincture, and garnish with a habañero pepper slice and a cilantro sprig.

Pajarito is a refined Mexican bistro, serving contemporary Mexican dishes and cocktails for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

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Mike Augustyniak