Every so often someone comes to visit the SAVEUR Test Kitchen with the express purpose of cooking lunch for us. Those are always good days: for a few hours the whole staff takes a break from whatever work we’re entrenched in and gathers around our sunny conference room table to eat together. Not too long ago, when I’d been having an especially hectic morning, we had a visit from Julian Medina, chef/owner of New York City’s Toloache, Yerba Buena, and Coppelia restaurants, who made the perfect pick-me-up lunch. There were spicy carnitas tacos, there was a vibrant guacamole studded with pomegranate seeds. But most importantly, there were margaritas — a big pitcher full of Chef Medina’s unique take on my favorite sweet-tart cocktail.
Since it was a workday lunch I cut myself off after one, but I still haven’t been able to stop thinking about it: made with mezcal, grilled pineapple, jalapeño, and lime, it was smoky, sweet, and spicy, with an herbaceous kick from cilantro. Now that the weather’s warmer and grills everywhere are firing up for the season, it’s the perfect time to make the drink at home. Mixing a big batch for a crowd makes a great start to any gathering — be sure to use a clear glass pitcher so the beautiful pieces of char-marked pineapple get a chance to show off. (Think of it as an extra course — as with a sangria, the bits of booze-soaked fruit are great for nibbling on once the liquid is gone.)