Some Like It Hot

By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Photo by Sarah Norris

Like an on-again, off-again relationship, Barrio Star's roasted jalapeño blackberry margarita runs hot and cold... which is precisely how many people like it. "It's been one of our highest-selling cocktails since the restaurant opened five years ago," says Todd Camburn, co-owner of the popular Bankers Hill outpost for soulful Latin cuisine. Last year, his customers drank more than 9,000 of them.

Camburn first discovered the love affair between tequila and roasted jalapeños while watching bartenders marry the two ingredients at a hole-in-the-wall bar in Guadalajara, Mexico. Impassioned by the outcome, he duplicated the process on his home turf before his business partner, cookbook author and restaurateur Isabel Cruz, sexed up the scheme with pureed fresh blackberries and housemade margarita mix kissed with fresh lime.

Served in a salt-rimmed glass and priced at $9, the drink starts with blanco tequila infused with roasted jalapeños, which sit in the tequila for at least three days until the mixture "springs to life," Camburn says. The result on the palate is an initial cooling sensation followed by the sweetness of the fruit and a tinge of sourness. Next come the peppers' spicy tongue-lashing, which has devoted patrons licking their lips.

"It's such a balanced cocktail that washes down perfectly," says Camburn.

In the words of Paris Hilton , who's celebrating her 34th birthday February 17, "That's hot!"

Barrio Star
2706 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill
619.501.7827, barriostar.com

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