spicy margaritas

8 Extraordinary Facts About Spicy Margaritas

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The spicy margarita is a fun twist on the classic margarita cocktail that packs some heat. By adding hot peppers or spicy ingredients like jalapeños, habaneros, or chili powder, the spicy margarita brings together the refreshing flavors of lime, orange liqueur, and tequila with a spicy kick.

For those who like some fire with their drinks, the spicy margarita is a great option. The contrast of the cool, sweet citrus and smoky tequila flavors with the slow, creeping heat from the peppers makes for an exciting and complex drinking experience.

Here are 8 extraordinary facts about the spicy margarita cocktail that you may not have known:

1. The origins of the spicy margarita are unknown, but it likely started in Mexican restaurants

While no one is quite sure who first had the idea to add chili peppers to margaritas, the spicy margarita is commonly believed to have originated in Mexican restaurants and bars in the United States. Mixing hot chilies with alcohol is very common in Mexican cuisine, so it was likely a natural evolution to bring that spice to their famous tequila cocktails.

2. There are many variations, but jalapeños and habaneros are commonly used

Jalapeños bring a mild to moderate heat level, while habaneros pack some serious fiery punch. Some spicy margarita recipes call for the peppers to be muddled or puréed together with other ingredients, while others simply use a few slices for garnish. Some ambitious bartenders even infuse tequila to make a spicy version from scratch.

3. The Scoville scale measures the heat and capsaicin levels of peppers

margarita cocktail

To give the heat of chili peppers a numerical rating, the Scoville Organoleptic Test was created in 1912. The scale measures the concentration of capsaicin, the compound responsible for the burning sensation. A green bell pepper ranks at 0 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), while the spiciest habaneros land over 350,000 SHU. For reference, police-grade pepper spray is about 2 million SHU!

4. Capsaicin triggers pain receptors, but also releases endorphins

When capsaicin touches the pain receptors in our mouths, it causes a burning sensation by tricking the brain into thinking the body is being exposed to heat. At the same time, endorphins are released to counteract the pain, giving many chili-heads an addictive rush. This thrill-seeking at play underlies the popularity of spicy margaritas and other daring cocktails.

5. The spicy margarita’s refreshing flavors can intensify and mask the heat

While the endorphin high explains why some people love the burn, the mixture of cooling ingredients like lime, orange liqueur, and salt in margaritas can allow the drinker to withstand more heat than they might from eating a chili pepper on its own. The sweet citrus flavors contrast with and help mask the heat, allowing the chili peppers’ flavor to come through.

6. Restaurants often name their house versions with creative and funny names

Establishments put their spin on spicy margaritas by using proprietary mixes of peppers and spices, resulting in some clever monikers. Some examples are “Fire in the Hole,” “South of the Border Burner,” “Jalapeño Business,” and “My Mouth’s on Fire…But I Saved 15% by Switching to Geico.”

7. A few precautions are advised when consuming spicy margaritas

It’s important to start slow when new to drinking cocktails spiced with chili peppers, as they can sneak up on you. Consuming alcohol exacerbates capsaicin’s burning effects, so don’t overdo it! Additionally, the peppers’ oils can irritate skin and eyes, so handle with caution. Finally, not everyone appreciates the heat, so ask before you order a round of spicy margaritas for your friends!

8. Spicy margarita cocktails continue gaining popularity at bars and restaurants

While already a staple at Mexican establishments, spicy margaritas have been popping up more frequently on mainstream menus and bar specials across America over the last decade. As more people develop a taste for heat and crave exciting drinking experiences, the spicy margarita fills the perfect niche. The next time you’re looking to change up your cocktail routine, consider giving this south-of-the-border burner a try!


The spicy margarita is a fun and adventurous twist on a classic cocktail that offers a complex medley of cooling, sweet citrus flavors contrasted with a slow, creeping heat. Its origins may be mysterious, but the pepper-packed drink continues gaining fans.

So for those thrill-seeking foodies who like a little fire with their drinks, the spicy margarita is the perfect way to simultaneously beat the heat while turning up the heat. Just go slow at first to see how much you can handle!

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