It’s not uncommon around this time of year to see a myriad of twists on the classic Margarita. And it’s no surprise that the sweet, sour, salty cocktail built atop Mexico’s favorite spirit would play well with a little extra heat. Hence, you’ll see a lot of jalapeño-infused variations as Cinco de Mayo approaches. To that we say, stop pussyfooting around with that mild pepper and switch to serrano.

If you find the right serrano it can be up to five times hotter than it’s cousin the jalapeño, hence it’ll provide a nice punch to your drink. Juan Martinez from the L.A. restaurant Toca Madera knows that’s the case. Inspired by serranos found around Southern California, he has made a Margarita that also tosses in some cilantro to round out the flavors of the drink with a pungent, floral note.

Just a little note of caution when handling serranos, it may be best to wear gloves or just make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before you accidentally touch your eye and feel the need to pour milk on your face to calm the fire.


• 2 oz. DeLeón Platinum Tequila
• 1 oz. lime juice
• ¾ oz. agave
• serrano pepper
• cilantro

Muddle two pieces of serrano pepper and clap five pieces of cilantro in a tin. Rim a highball with Tajin/Ghost pepper salt, shake all ingredients together and strain into a the highball glass. Garnish with a serrano pepper and sprig of cilantro.

Jeremy Repanich is a Senior Editor at Playboy. Follow him on Twitter @racefortheprize.