Cocktail & Other Recipes Cocktail Type Nonalcoholic

See You on Wednesday (Non-Alcoholic Spicy Margarita)

Natasha David leans on savory ingredients for this zero-proof riff.

Non-Alcoholic Spicy Margarita
Image:

Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

“Do you ever take that first big satisfying sip of a Margarita and think to yourself, ‘This tastes life-giving and cleansing?’” says Natasha David in her 2022 book Drink Lightly. “If you answered with a resounding YES, then this [drink] is the cure to your craving. This is every juicy, spicy, savory dream wrapped up in a festive salt-speckled bow.”

For her zero-proof Spicy Margarita variation, David omits the typical orange liqueur and leans on savory ingredients like freshly-pressed celery juice, cilantro, and jalapeño coins, which she combines with lime juice and agave nectar. “I often find drinking celery juice on its own a little, shall we say, lacking, so the gooey yum of the agave nectar is there to give this drink some texture and weight,” she writes. 

While traditional Margaritas often feature a salted rim, David opts to add a salt solution to the drink itself. “I keep this simple yet highly impactful solution of kosher salt and water around in a dropper bottle,” she says. “Just as in food, salt helps bring out flavors, accentuate nuances, and draw out layers that would otherwise go unnoticed.” 

The drink gets dusted with a spicy Tajín rim and garnished with a snackable celery spear. The result? A zero-proof cocktail that may even be more refreshing than the classic.

Ingredients

  • 2 jalapeño slices

  • 1 cilantro sprig

  • 3/4 ounce agave nectar

  • 3 ounces fresh celery juice

  • 1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 3 drops salt solution (recipe below)

  • Garnish: Tajín, for rim

  • Garnish: celery spear

Steps

  1. At the bottom of a shaker, muddle the jalapeño, cilantro, and agave nectar.

  2. Add the celery juice, lime juice, and salt solution. Add ice and shake until well chilled.

  3. Fine-strain into a Tajín-rimmed double rocks glass over large-format ice.

  4. Garnish with a celery spear.

  5. To make salt solution: Combine 100 grams (about 1/2 cup) filtered water and 30 grams (about 2 tablespoons) kosher salt in a bowl and whisk until the salt has dissolved. Store in the fridge for up to 1 month. Transfer to a dropper bottle when ready to use. Yields approximately 1/2 cup.

What’s In a Margarita?

A classic Margarita includes tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and agave or simple syrup. The original recipe likely debuted as an offshoot of the Tequila Daisy in Mexico, where competing theories tie it to a bartender in Juárez or a Dallas socialite in Acapulco. The Spicy Margarita has become a classic in its own right, and often employs muddled jalapeño coins or serrano peppers.

What Tools Do I Need?

The celery juice in this drink calls for a juicer or extractor. (If using store-bought celery juice, keep in mind that most brands include a blend of celery and lemon juices.) David suggests fine-straining juices with a tea strainer before using them. Many bartenders prefer measuring ingredients for syrups and other modifiers using grams to ensure accuracy. If measuring the salt solution in grams, you will need a kitchen scale. David uses a dropper bottle for storing the salt solution and adding it to drinks.