Smoky Watermelon-Jalapeno Margarita

Smoky Watermelon-Jalapeno Margarita -

When I look back in time I see the bread crumbs leading me to put cyber pen to paper about my love for food and drink.  Looking through travel photo albums, I’ll find a random cocktail photo or a plate of food I snapped ; something that just caught my eye for the color, texture and natural composition.
Similarly I’ve found scribbled recipes on the back of flight ticket jackets or in notebooks gone astray in my active switching out of purses and tote bags.  I just rediscovered one such notebook.  It was full of odd recorded thoughts, memos, and reminders spanning a vast period of time.  Buried in the haphazard content was a recipe that I instantly remembered writing down from an inflight magazine, being intrigued by the flavor combinations.  I flashed on a desperate scene of rummaging through my bag for paper and pen (I tend not to tear things out of public magazines and this was before iPhones where all can be captured in a photo) to jot it all down feverishly as the landing gear was dropping.  No memory of where I was or when it was. 
Cocktail in Kenya Africa
Outspan Hotel (Aberdare National Park) Nyeri Kenya. This photo is from a Safari trip album to Kenya and Tanzania. I found it amidst migrating wildebeests and prides of hunting lions; somehow this cocktail got my attention.
Summer is afoot.  I’ve always regarded Memorial Day weekend as the official gateway to summer.  It feels like metaphorically running through a finish line ribbon, arms tossed to the heavens in elation and relief.  The ritual of grilling and summer cocktails usher us into the season and my long-lost-newly-discovered cocktail feels perfect to christen the occasion.
Smoky Watermelon-Jalapeno Margaritas -
This cocktail is an exciting fresh-style margarita with the fantastic flavor combination of fresh lime juice, pureed watermelon, agave nectar to sweeten it all up and the perky heat of a fresh jalapeno chile pepper.  At first I wondered if the agave quantity would be too much but it isn’t.  I found it to be a perfect blending of tart, sweet and spicy.
I am in love, utterly and completely, with smoked salt.  The recipe calls for hickory smoked salt for rimming the glass and in the end I used alderwood smoked salt for the finer grind.  A family member walked into my photo room and exclaimed ‘it smells like a campfire in here’; there you have it.  It is the perfect match for this cocktail.  It is a strong salt so consider that when rimming the glass for how much of a rim you desire.
Alderwood Salt rimmed glass - Smoky Watermelon-Jalapeno Margarita  -
Smoky Watermelon-Jalapeno Margarita


  • 1 jalapeno chile pepper
  • 2 ounces tequila (I used a Blanco, or white, un-aged tequila for this)
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ounce watermelon puree
  • ¾ ounce agave nectar/syrup
  • Hickory smoked salt for rimming the glass


  1. Muddle the jalapeno in a shaker or a pint glass.
  2. Add the tequila, lime juice, watermelon puree and agave nectar. Shake with ice and strain into a double old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice and rimmed with hickory smoked salt. Garnish with a slice of watermelon and lime wedge.
Smoky Watermelon-Jalapeno Margaritas - Muddling Jalapeno Peppers -
 Smoky Watermelon-Jalapeno Margaritas  -
 Smoky Watermelon-Jalapeno Margaritas  -
I had a flashback the other day of watching the TV show ‘Sunday Morning’ and around this time each year they would release a summer reading list.  ‘Beach reading’ I’d consider it.  Light, fun, non taxing literary frivolity.  Something to tease the imagination and set the tone for the season of relaxation.
I admittedly have not watched Sunday Morning for years.  I don’t know if they still publish the same list though I think with so much of our reading shifting to the internet perhaps the ‘summer reading lists’ have also migrated online.  I have discovered a number of international blogs; all with a food focus that feel like summer reading to me.  All very photo driven, I love to linger over their inspired, mood-evoking photos and content that’s always easy to take in.  Some are new to me, and some old favorites, but all are subscriptions I anticipate.  I wanted to share them with you so you too might linger a bit with this new cocktail in hand to usher in the summer!
La Recita de la Felicidad (note: this blog is written in Spanish but generally when accessing the site you’ll be prompted with a translator open; if not, open it in Google Chrome and Google’s translator will activate)
Two others that should not be missed:
Donal Skehan  (This is the blog of Ireland’s male Martha Stewart.  He could not be cuter, is a fantastic cook and photographer, and is spreading like wild fire in Europe.  I even emailed my Irish friend Aoife author of Dublin’s The Daily Spud to see if he was for real or just a model posing with the goods.  He’s the real deal and apparently very nice at that.)
Leite’s Culinaria (a non-stop parade of fantastically inspired and ‘do-able’ recipes to keep your table intriguing and flavorful for every meal in every season)
Any you’d add to the list?  Do tell!
Smoky Watermelon-Jalapeno Margaritas  -


  1. says

    I love your metaphor about running through the finish line ribbon. Exactly!!! 🙂 I've got to look for some smoked salt. This is a beautiful drink Toni.

    • says

      Frankly in my current overbooked state, it will be more like crawling across the finish line on hands and knees probably with some simpering thrown in for good measure! Savory Spice Shop carries both hickory smoked and alderwood smoked salt Lea Ann. The 'nose' on these salts is amazing. I'm sure the clerk regarded me as a complete culinary drug addict by the massive inhaling I was doing in the jar to select the salt I wanted to use!

  2. says

    Toni-Your Smokey Watermelon-Jalapeno Margarita, is a “Margarita lover's” dream come true!
    Honestly!…genius, spicy, smokey, refreshing summer cocktail. Love all the photos, your amazing post, and I feel I've been missing so much in the months that I haven't visited your beautiful blog!
    Must pin your amazing cocktail, on Pinterest…and be sure to put your blog on my blog list, to remind myself to check for the latest.

    Thanks so much for your sweet, and kind comment re: my guest post with my daughter Lora:D

    • says

      Hi Elisabeth! Thank you for all your generous comments! AND for pinning the cocktail. I am now following you too on Pinterest. I find it's hard to find people on Pinterest; I used your link and 'followed all' so you should see me to follow back if you like. If not there is a Pinterest button on the top right of my blog too. Great to connect; it's been too long!

  3. says

    I cannot wait to make this cocktail! There is a strawberry jalepeno margarita at a restaurant that I love, so I know this will be right up my alley!

    • says

      I hope you'll enjoy it Mercedes. I love it. It's refreshing and I found the heat perfect; just enough to compliment the sweetness but not overpowering. Perfect summer cocktail!

    • says

      Thanks Jen! When I lived in Singapore I'd go down to a juice vendor mid morning and have watermelon juice every day. Really just pureed watermelon and it was so refreshing. Watermelon soda sounds great! How do you make it? Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment.

  4. says

    This looks amazing! I can imagine how good it tastes with the chillies and hickory salt. It's lovely that you can look back through your old food photos, like a breadcrumb trail!

    • says

      I think food as a memory prompt is highly ignored. I've heard sensory memories of smell or taste are the strongest memory evokers. Makes sense those food moments would place life in time and place. Hope you'll try the cocktail; it's really unique and summer-worthy!

    • says

      The smoked salt definitely plays a major role in this cocktail and one that could quickly overpower if doing a heavy handed rim on the glass. If Comida makes a more traditional Margarita it might be a bit different since this has no orange liqueur and the lime flavor is delivered in a bit different way too. Good opportunity for a comparison! After all a girl can't have too many Watermelon Jalapeno cocktails in her back pocket for summer right?

  5. says

    I clicked on this recipe because all I could think was, “I WANT THIS NOW!” Only to find that you're in Boulder! I just moved here yesterday. I'm in love already!

    • says

      I think anything with watermelon is so refreshing and so 'summer' who wouldn't want to drink it?! Unfortunately I'm unsure how you could amend this to be alcohol free. You could always just omit the tequila and try the rest of the ingredients Kim. Why not?!

  6. sweetlady says

    This Smoky Watermelon-Jalapeno Margarita is so tempting, really tempting! 😛 Have you tried making a hibiscus margarita? So refreshing! 🙂

    • says

      It is a great drink and not one you find regularly so would have a novel, yet refreshing quality for a party. I feel the recipe above is perfectly balanced so my advice would be to use the same proportions but make it in larger batches. I might consider combining the fresh lime juice, tequila, watermelon puree and agave before the party (not way before) so all you have to do in the moment is muddle the jalapendo, add the correct amount of the liquid, shake, strain and serve. You can also pre-salt the glasses before the party. If you have a large enough container to muddle a few peppers in you could make a few of the drinks at a time which would move things along. Maybe do a pre-experiment blending enough liquid for 4 drinks and try it out so you know how to judge the quantitiy of liquid to peppers before you do it for the party (I tend to get distracted when the party starts and I'm hosting!). Hope that helps!

    • says

      Hi again Mary Catherine! I saw you had two similar comments/questions though they were not completely identical so I'll add on.

      I do think you could make this more 'in bulk' as I discussed above; use the same amounts x 20 and then divide the total volume of the liquid by 20 for the per serving amount. Once you've done that you can add a serving size per muddled pepper for shaking. E.g. if you have a large container and can muddle 4 peppers at once, add 4 servings of liquid, shake, strain and pour 4 cocktails at a time. Make sense?

      Also the hickory smoke really is a big part of the cocktail signature flavor. I'd recommend it and presalt the rims lightly for varied preferences. I think that touch separates this cocktail from similar ones and is the aspect that will have people leave your party talking! I've never seen hickory smoked salt used in that way. Good luck and have fun!


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