The other fresh herb I needed to find use for after Thanksgiving was sage. Man, I do lovelovelove me some sage on a turkey or in a stuffing. (p.s. If you ever want my mother-in-law's recipe for outside-the-bird stuffing, trust me, you do. Also p.s., stuffing is an underrated foodstuff for when you're drunk.)
But sage in other places I had to think about, and then sniff about. Honestly, I wound up holding a bouquet of sage up to one nostril, various bottles of liquor to the other, and deciding which smells I thought went well together. (If there's a hard and fast science to cocktail-making, somebody send me the equation. I've got 99 ways to come up with a cocktail, but a formula ain't one.)
The sage and tequila, wafting together as one, struck my nosebuds hard, stinging and good. Sage kinda looks like a cactus, right? Cacti are, like, Mexican, right? (My cultural references clearly begin and end with Looney Tunes.) Starting obvious, I constructed a pretty standard margarita, replacing regular simple syrup with my sage syrup, going whole hog on the triple sec, adding a dash of honey lemon water as my X factor. Result: too sweet, or at least sweet enough that the sage couldn't really come through. Take two: I stripped down to the basics, ix-naying the triple sec and lemon honey hoo-ha. Now after a citrus-sweet jolt on the front end, the cocktail finished with a long, happy marriage of sage-tequila grassy-sourness.
Lastly, I thought to do a salt-and-pepper rim. The full-on salt rim typical of many margaritas, I see the logic to that; usually margaritas are way sweet, so you want an equally strong counter-punch of salt going up against that. But as that wasn't the case here, I thought it'd be nice to let the pepper come out and play with the sage and tequila. (It's like picking teams for kickball! Lime/sugar/salt vs. tequila/sage/pepper!)
Hey, by the way, did you know that margarita means "daisy" in Spanish? How did I never know this? Probably because a) I took French, b) I live in a place where they speak French, and c) they rarely spoke Spanish in Looney Tunes.
The Daisywise (aka the Sage Margarita)
2 ounces tequila blanco
1 1/2 ounces sage-infused simple syrup
2 ounces lime juice
Freshly grated sea salt and a little bit of freshly cracked black pepper, for the rim
Using a piece of cut lime, sticky up the lip of a martini or cocktail glass and roll in a salt-and-pepper mixture. Set glass aside. Combine all liquid ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake, then strain into your glass.
Why WHY didn't I save a sprig of sage to garnish this? Or go pick a freaking daisy and put that in?? (Um, because it's December in Canada, you hoser?)