Drink Me: Spicy Watermelon Margarita

To launch our new cocktail feature, we invited one of our favorite drinksmiths, Greg Murnion of Sunset Strip haunt The Pikey, to concoct a summery libation especially for us--and he was quick with his key component. "Watermelon was the first ingredient I ever used in a cocktail--or, better yet--the first ingredient I made a cocktail in," he explains of the inspiration, confessing that he swiped said fruit from a local ShopRite in his youth, in a bid to impress his buddies. "I took that ill-gotten melon, bore a hole in it, and emptied a bottle of contraband vodka inside of it. It was like a bad Katy Perry song," he says. Murnion's updated take is a sophisticated mega-leap from his yesteryear party trick, but the chile kick does channel a flash of rite of passage rebellion. As for the other ingredients? "They just taste good together," he says. GREG'S EXPERT TIP: I like to infuse my own tequila, and it's super simple. First, choose a brand you like, (El Jimador and Cazadores are both good and reasonably priced). For each bottle you want to infuse, broil one Serrano chili until it's charred. Empty the tequila into a container, slice open the charred chile, and drop it into the tequila. After 15-20 minutes, use a wire strainer to strain the chili out of the tequila, making sure that no seeds remain. Return the tequila to its bottle and voila: Serrano chile-infused tequila. dh-recipe-shop
dh-cocktail-watermelon-margarita-mvp Our expert's mezcal of choice is the twice-distilled Del Maguey Mezcal Vida, whose smooth finish clinched double-gold at San Francisco's World Spirit Competition. $35, BevMo 

  Ingredients 1.5 ounces Serrano chile-infused blanco tequila ¼ ounce mezcal (Del Maguey Vida Mezcal is a good option) 2 ounces watermelon juice 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice 1/2 ounce fresh orange juice 1/2 oz simple syrup Shake all ingredients except for the mezcal together and strain over ice. Top with mezcal. Photograph: Andrew Arthur