Heat It Up to Cool It Down

by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
March 30, 2011

Calexico Jalepeno MargaritaCynthia Sin-Yi Cheng

645 Manhattan Ave
@ Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222

I’m always on the hunt for a good margarita. I often have it as a first drink at a new bar as a quick way to gauge my expectations for the rest of the menu — as a “barometer” of sorts. It has become my standard drink.

One lazy Saturday afternoon, I decided to stroll to a part of my neighborhood that I had not yet explored: Greenpoint. A 10-minute walk landed me at the buzzing taqueria, Calexico. I admit, I’ve been on a taco kick lately. Calexico’s barely three-month-old Greenpoint location is an expansion from its famous SoHo street truck, which won the Vendy Award Grand Prize for best street truck in 2008.

A creature of habit, I perused the cocktail list but had my heart set on a margarita. I’m wary of gimmicky drinks, so I thought twice before ordering the jalapeño mint margarita ($9). But, I also live for exploration and adventure, so after a brief chat with Elsbeth, the lively Scottish bartender, I ordered my adventure.

I was expecting a trendy drink that uses jalapeño and mint merely for effect, but was pleasantly surprised by this refreshing and delicately complex margarita — the perfect blend of Tanteo Jalapeño tequila, Combier triple sec, fresh mint, jalapeño, lime and agave. There is a wonderful equilibrium between the fiery spice and the cool, cool mint: a couple with innate chemistry.

The rest of the cocktail list — concocted by consulting mixologist Nick O’Connor of Apothéke — has several other veggie-based drinks that caught my attention. Trasgo Verde ($10) with mescal, avocado, celery, lemon, lime and sugar is definitely one I’m curious to try next!

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