An Elevated Spicy Margarita is Primed To Be The Drink of the Summer

Some like it hot. T Australia’s resident drinks expert Fred Siggins celebrates the spicy margarita.

Article by Fred Siggins

spicy margarita_1A range of mescals on the back bar at Melbourne’s Taquito. Photograph by Fred Siggins.

The Margarita has long inspired visions of lazy days by the pool, steamy Mexican nights and wild parties. In recent years, spicy versions of the margarita have taken the drinking world by storm, emerging as one of Australia’s favourite cocktails and finding its way onto drinks lists well beyond your local taco joint. 

Adding spice to a cocktail might seem an odd choice, but the chillies can add layers of flavour and depth to a drink, matching well with the margarita’s other components of tequila, lime, salt and sweetness, and offering a heightened sensory experience along with added complexity. 

According to Alex Godfrey, national ambassador for Patrón Tequila, the spicy margarita is the new vodka soda. “It’s so refreshing, and that little hit of spice releases a bit of endorphins,” he says. “It’s also something you can customise to your desired heat level — how much spice can you handle?”

Sydney’s Cantina OK! is known as one of the best tequila and mescal bars in the country, cranking out hundreds of margaritas a day despite its diminutive proportions. Rocky Hair, group operations manager for Mucho Group (the parent company of Cantina OK!, Tio’s Cerveceria, The Cliff Dive and Bar Planet), says adding spice is “the only way you could make a margarita more perfect. It’s a whole-ass meal of a drink — you got juice, salt and some spice to keep you alive.”

Cantina’s version of the spicy marg is made with cascabel chillies, which give a savoury depth with a moderate spice level, explains Hair. “We also add a bit of complexity with mescal, and brightness with yuzushu,” the yuzu-flavoured umeshu. Hair says the best tequilas for a spicy margarita are bright and slightly sweet. “Herradura Plata, which gives slightly oaky top notes but carries the entire party of ingredients on its sweet back, is probably my favourite,” she says.

Spicy margaritas have become so popular that they’re now available in premixed versions, with the canned cocktail company Curatif seeing them fly out of the door. “Margaritas are, rightfully, hot right now and the spicy margarita is even hotter,” says Curatif’s managing director, Matt Sanger. “So listening to what our customers wanted, we decided to make one available as part of our range. But as with all things that we do at Curatif, we lean into authenticity and make our spicy margarita genuinely spicy by including a house-made pepper extract using imported ghost pepper (bhut jolokia) and overproof tequila. The result is breathtaking for all the right reasons.”

At Melbourne’s excellent modern Mexican bar and restaurant Taquito, both the food and drink go well beyond the obvious Tex-Mex found at most “Mexican” restaurants in Australia, utilising local ingredients combined with the kind of inventive cookery that has made Mexico City a foodie mecca in recent years. Their house special margarita, a concoction they call Tommy Taquitos, makes use of bright, earthy mescal and two kinds of chilli. “We use a combination of smoked guajillo chillies and fresh jalapeños,” says Taquito co-founder Alec Villarreal Wurts. “The smokiness of the guajillos complements the earthy notes in the mescal, while the fresh jalapeños bring out more vegetal notes and add a bit of extra kick.”

Try either the simple Patrón spicy margarita recipe below or Taquito’s more advanced mescal version to put the spice back into your life this summer.

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Taquito’s take on the spicy margarita, Tommy Taquitos, uses an earthy mescal in place of tequila. Photograph by Fred Siggins.

Simple Spicy Margarita

The most consistent, knock-your-socks-off-and-impress-your-friends recipe according to Patrón Tequila ambassador Alex Godfrey.


60ml Patrón Reposado tequila
30ml freshly squeezed lime juice
15ml spicy agave syrup*


Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker full of ice.

Shake hard until the outside of the tin gets frosty, then strain the drink into a rocks glass rimmed with coarse salt over fresh ice.

Garnish with a fresh lime wheel.

*Spicy agave syrup (can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks):

Chop 200g fresh jalapeños into small dice and add to a small saucepan with 500ml agave syrup.

Gently bring to the boil over medium heat while stirring. 

Once it starts to boil, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Strain off solids.


Tommy Taquitos 

Taquito’s more complex and adventurous house special margarita with earthy mescal.


60ml Nuestra Soledad Santiago Matatlán mescal
30ml freshly squeezed lime juice
30ml apricot chilli jam**


Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker full of ice.

Shake hard until the outside of the tin gets frosty, then strain the drink into a rocks glass rimmed with Tajín (a Mexican chilli, lime and salt seasoning) over fresh ice.

**Apricot chilli jam (can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks):

Put 100g whole dried guajillo chillies and 300g dried apricots into a heatproof bowl.

Add 500ml boiling water. Steep for 1 hour, then add mixture to a food processor, along with 200g roughly chopped fresh jalapeño peppers. Process until smooth. Transfer to a
small saucepan.

Simmer on low, stirring regularly, until consistency resembles thin jam or
thick syrup.

Remove from heat and allow to cool before use.

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our fifteenth edition, Page 38 of T Australia with the headline: “Some Like It Hot”