Cherry Limeade Margarita

It’s National Tequila Day! Which, let’s be honest, might as well just be Margarita Day. Yes, yes, there is already a day dedicated to margaritas (February 22nd to be exact) but why not have two holidays for this special nectar of the agave plant?? Today, I am honoring tequila with this Cherry Limeade Margarita.

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I have a thing about cherries. Anyone with me? Cherry-flavored things remind me of cough syrup and other super artificially flavored candies. And don’t get me started on the maraschino cherry… no thank you to those bright red sugar bombs. There is only one time a year that I get excited about cherries, and that is dark, sweet cherry season. No bright red colors or super sweet additives – just dark, luscious cherries from Washington State or Oregon. YUM.

Additionally, as most Americans, I am an Amazon prime member and can never go back to 3-day delivery or shipping that costs more than $0. I am even more devoted now that Whole Foods gives me a hefty discount on a few select items each week with said membership. This week, I walked into my neighborhood Whole Foods and what do I see? Fresh, dark cherries marked at 50% off. A gift from the gods I say. And then that same day, what appears on my doorstep? Oh, that brand new blender I purchased on Amazon Prime Day… obviously my first thought goes to a frozen beverage. Thanks, Amazon.

So here lives the frozen Cherry Limeade Margarita, perfect for a celebration of booze. I pitted my fresh cherries and put them right into the freezer for this cocktail to ensure a smooth consistency. Once they were frozen, I threw them into my blender with tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, a little simple syrup, and a few handfuls of ice. Simple, delicious, and worthy of my $10 sale-priced bag of cherries.


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Total Time: 10 minutes (plus time to freeze fruit)

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces¬†Cointreau
  • 2 ounces lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 cup dark cherries, pitted
  • Handful cubed ice
  • Sugar and lime zest for rim

Instructions:

Pit your cherries and freeze them for about 2 hours until firm. You can use frozen cherries from the freezer section in the off season, but fresh is best. Once frozen, add cherries to blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Add 1 cup of ice at a time to reach desired thickness.

Prepare your glasses with the sugar and lime zest rim by taking a slice of lime and circling around the edge. Then roll the glass on a plate filled with granulated sugar and fresh lime zest.

Fill prepared glasses with frozen margarita and enjoy!

 

Maple Bourbon Sours

Nothing screams “mountain vacation” like maple syrup-spiked alcohol in a mason jar. This is exactly what I had in mind this weekend while visiting my parents in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They have this gorgeous log cabin with excellent views of the mountains and a HUGE back deck. This deck is what dreams are made of and it begs you to sit back, relax, and enjoy a morning coffee or an evening cocktail (or two). As I packed up my cold weather gear for a balmy 75 degrees, I made sure to bring along my trusty cocktail supplies and mason jars for these maple bourbon sours.

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I love everything sour. Sour beers, sour cocktails, sour candy – I can’t get enough. I will choose a bag of sour patch kids over a chocolate bar any day. The only place where I DO NOT want artificial sour flavoring is in my cocktails. Sour mixers out of plastic jugs should be banned forever. Fresh lemon juice is the ONLY way to go. I balanced out my lemon juice in these drinks with a little bit of maple syrup. The maple goes wonderfully with bourbon and provides a more complex flavor than regular simple syrup. I recommend using high quality, dark maple syrup in these cocktails to really let the flavor shine.

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I also throw a sprig of rosemary in these drinks to bring some freshness. This is not required, but I think you will appreciate another layer of flavor to brighten up the sweetness. Now go forth and climb a mountain with your maple bourbon sours!

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Total Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 4 (in small glasses)

Ingredients:

  • 7-8 ounces bourbon
  • Juice from 2 1/2 lemons
  • 2 ounces maple syrup
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Measure out your bourbon, lemon juice, and maple syrup into your shaker. Add ice and one full rosemary sprig. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds until frothy and ice cold. Add ice to 4 small old fashioned glasses and strain mixture into each glass. You can use mason jars here, but know that you might not get large portions in the regular pint jars. Try the 8oz. half pint jars if you are committed to the look. Nothing is wrong with a stronger drink if you need to top them off with more bourbon! Add small sprig of rosemary as garnish.

 

Mango Mojitos

Happy (belated) National Mojito Day! What a perfectly refreshing drink for peak summer heat and outdoor activities. Mojitos really check all of the boxes for a perfect cocktail – sweetness from muddled sugar and lime, freshness from mint leaves, and a little fizz from club soda. And of course you can’t forget the RUM. Everything you need for poolside, lakeside, beachfront, or plain old couch-sitting sipping.

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This week I found wonderfully ripe mangoes at the grocery store, so this is a little twist on a traditional mojito. Before getting to the recipe, I want to share a little information about how to select the perfect mango and chop it up so you can really embrace the fruit in your cocktails. Mangoes were such a mystery to me until I got to college and finally learned how to cut one up. They do have a hard “pit” in the center and cannot be cut down the middle like most fruits. I have butchered my fair share of mangoes trying to get around that tough center. Mangoes can also be super tart and unappealing if you grab them before they are ripe. The best way to check whether a mango is ripe is giving it a gently squeeze and looking at the stem. If the stem pops off easily and the flesh gives a little to your squeeze, you should (gently) throw that sucker in your basket! Do not go off color alone, some mangoes do not change color as they ripen.

Once you are ready to devour your mango, cut it in thirds from the top to avoid the center. You will toss the middle chunk and just cut up the flesh like an avocado. I score my mango using a sharp knife in straight lines. First I score from top to bottom and then side to side. Do not cut through the skin! Try to keep your slices just through the flesh of the fruit so you can then flip the skin inside out and chop off your perfect little cubes! This sounds like some creepy Dexter dialogue – so please see photos below to avoid listening to my “skin” and “flesh” cutting talk any longer.

Once your mango is ready to go – you can make this Mango Mojito! Mojitos have a weird reputation for being challenging to make. I have heard countless stories of friends ordering them at the pool bar and getting an eye roll from the bartender or the “we are out of mint!” story. Don’t fall for it, make these suckers at home any chance you get.

First, you want to muddle your mint, lime juice, and sugar. This will release the oils from the mint leaves and really ensure a strong aroma and flavor. While these mojitos do have mango, I think you still need some of the sugar to add sweetness. Once your mint, lime juice, and sugar is muddled – add your mango chunks and muddle a little more to release juices from the fruit. It is essential that you have a super ripe mango here that is easily crushed and juiced.

Add ice, rum, and shake like crazy! Once my drinks were adequately shaken, I had trouble getting the liquid out because of the mango pulp. My little shaker holes failed me and I ended using a mesh strainer over a cup to get the liquid out. Improvise when you need to! You are at home and no one is judging your choice of cocktail creating tools.

Add your cocktail mixture to a glass with ice, torn mint leaves, and extra mango chunks for the perfect summertime mojito.

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Total Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 mangoes
  • 1 bunch fresh mint leaves
  • Juice from 5-6 limes
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 10 ounces dark rum
  • Club soda
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Put 5-6 mint leaves to the side for garnish and then add remaining leaves to your shaker. Add juice from limes and sugar to shaker, and muddle with mint leaves. I like a lot of lime juice in my mojitos, so use 6-7 limes for 4 people if you are like me. Add mango cubes from 2 whole mangoes to shaker and muddle gently. Once you have juiced your mango cubes and broken them down, add rum and ice to shaker. Shake for 30 seconds or until glass is very cold.

Add ice, torn mint leaves, and remaining mango cubes from your third fruit to 4 tall glasses. Strain cocktail mixture evenly among glasses and top with club soda. Give a little stir and enjoy!