Cocktail Hour at the Culinary Cabin: Savory Dirty Margarita

Trips to the Culinary Cabin in Lake Tahoe with our corona-pod have been a lifeline this past year. These trips are always delightful, but they’ve been a shining bit of normalcy during incredibly weird, scary times – particularly last year when there was no end in sight. These were our respites to the looooooonnng periods of quarantine isolation. 

I’ve often shared glimpses of our Culinary Cabin feasts both here and on SommsTable.com, complete with the wines that have paired with them, but I’ve not previously shared much about the cocktails. Happy hour is 100% a part of the Culinary Cabin experience. 

Drew, one of our hosts, is quite the mixologist and loves to concoct new libation creations. On our most recent trip, it finally occurred to me to ask him to write down what he’d done in making a couple of the cocktails so that I could in turn share them here. This is the first of two I’ll be sharing from our most recent trip.

This first one is basically a cross between a Margarita and a Dirty Gibson Martini, with some added flourishes of course. It’s very dry and very savory. It was not a part of Drew’s original vision, but I also enjoyed it with a little bit of soda added, so I’ve included it as an option here. 

The drinks are poured in the Crescent Cocktail Glasses by Dragon Glassware. I've partnered with them as an ambassador, which means discounts for you. Use the code "NICOLE10" for 10% off. (I might receive a commission at no cost to you.)


Servings: 1
By: Drew Wahl, Adapted by Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Savory Dirty Margarita

Savory Dirty Margarita

Prep Time: 15 MinTotal Time: 15 Min


For the pickled red onions:
  • 1 red onion, large diced, so that large square-ish pieces are formed from the onion layers
  • ½ cup rice vinegar, or as needed
  • 1 Tbsp sugar, or to taste
  • 1 Tbsp salt, or to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
Per cocktail:
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • 5 oz Tequila
  • 1 teaspoon of pickling liquid from the red onions
  • Ice
  • Soda, to taste (optional)
For the garnish:
  • Pickled red onion 
  • Sriracha (Or hot sauce of your choice)
  • Ground cardamom
  • Lime zest
  • Salt
  • Toothpicks


For the quick pickled red onions:
  1. Combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, and pepper and mix until dissolved. (You can heat lightly in a microwave to help the sugar and salt dissolve.) Pour over the onions – the vinegar should cover the onions, so add more as needed. Set them aside and allow the onions to soak for at least 10 minutes.
For the cocktail:
  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lime juice, tequila, pickling liquid, and ice. Shake well then strain into a glass with additional ice. (Ideally, large cubes) Add soda if desired.
  2. Skewer together three slices of red onion with a toothpick and place in the glass. Dot a little Sriracha on the onion pieces. Sprinkle a little of each ground cardamom, lime zest, and salt on top of the onion skewer.
  3. Serve.

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