Tommy Hilfiger at Macy’s and a nicely salted Watermelon Margarita relax together in a comfortably turquoise Ekornes recliner.
The long overdue revival of the margarita is underway thanks to the growing band of artisan mixologists who’ve abandoned the pitiful soapy green chainy concoctions. Maybe the designer ice cubes are a bit much, but the new drinks prove that booze and mixer quality count: the tequila should be 100 percent agave, the juice fresh squeezed.
At times, however, the left side of the ambitious barkeep’s brain gets carries away. We had to call a time out on drink creativity this summer after a round of local Peach/Vidalia Onion margaritas served at a gathering in a trendy Atlanta restaurant. The only clichéd Georgia ingredient left out by the bar dude was the pecans. His fancy black salt rim was cool, though probably not a local ingredient.
So, how to change up the classic margarita without serving the ridiculous. How about watermelon? It’s the rage on the epicurean beverage circuit. Since Carrie Bradshaw put the pink drink front and center, watermelon with tequila doesn’t sound too far fetched. And all the cool guys out there confident enough to sport pink shorts or shirts, don’t you need your cocktail to match?
Sweet, ripe watermelon is everywhere right now and better still, tequila is involved. If ten bucks a cocktail at the local gastronomic alter is beyond your drink limit, you can make them just as good (and a little stronger) at home. All you need is a seedless watermelon, a bag of limes, blender, strainer, lime squeezer, and the cheapest 100 percent agave tequila you can find.
Margarita essentials. Don’t complicate the simple.
The lime squeezer may be the most important tool in the list. Get the kind that inverts the lime half when pressed, not just a reamer. Find a good metal one at a Mexican grocery or Williams-Sonoma. You’ll use it all the time. And we say skip the triple sec or the Grand Marnier (aka GranMa). Sure, it sweetens the drink, but it also masks the tequila. Add a little orange juice to your lime juice and sweeten the whole thing to your liking with a little homemade simple syrup. Simple syrup is just sugar dissolved in water made with equal parts water and sugar. Heat the water until the sugar is dissolved and always keep a batch in the fridge. Add some strips of orange rind to the hot syrup and let it steep. Now you’ve got homemade “Cheater Simple Sec.”
And if you just can’t do pink shorts, yellow-meated watermelon will match your khaki just as well.
New Classic Margarita
2 cups fresh lime juice
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup simple syrup 100% Agave Tequila
Combine the lime juice, orange juice and simple syrup in a large measuring cup. Add simple syrup according to how sweet you like your drinks. Rub the rims of glasses with a cut lime and dip in a shallow plate of kosher salt. Fill the glasses with ice. Add tequila to your liking and top with the juice. Garnish with a lime wedge. Makes about 6 drinks. If you want to premix the tequila, start with one cup then add a little more.
3 cups watermelon juice
1 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 to 1 cup simple syrup
100 % Agave Tequila
Combine the watermelon juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in a large liquid measuring cup. Add simple syrup according to how sweet you like your drinks. Rub the rims of glasses with a cut lime and dip in a shallow plate of kosher salt. Fill the glasses with ice. Add tequila to your liking and top with the watermelon juice. Garnish with a lime wedge. Makes about 6 drinks.
If you want to premix the tequila, start with one cup then add a little more. To make watermelon juice: Place seedless watermelon chunks into a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour the juice through a strainer. Store in a covered container and refrigerate.