Last fall, my amazing and generous friend Annie invited Joey and I to join them for dinner at Alinea in Chicago. Lo and behold, my wonderful mother-in-law offered to watch all four kids for a few days, and Joey and I were able to fly to Chicago for a perfect weekend getaway. We planned our trip around our meals, obviously; and what good would a trip to Chicago be if we don't eat at a Rick Bayless restaurant? Frontera was our first stop, and we enjoyed a wonderful and leisurely lunch there. First thing we ordered? Margaritas and beer, of course! I went with the summer margarita, which is basically a cucumber-lime margarita.
I know cucumber may sound a little odd, but hear me out. We've all seen water with cucumber slices before at spas, right? And to me, cucumbers are more like a melon than a veggie, so it's a pretty natural pairing for a margarita. It makes sense.
This margarita is amazingly refreshing, just sweet enough without being cloying, and just tart enough without being sour and bitter. It is crisp and fresh, and it backs a nice boozy punch. In short, it's a perfect margarita for summer. And Cinco de Mayo. Who knows when we'll get back to Chicago, but in the meantime I can enjoy a taste of our trip through this margarita. I'll take it.
Rick Bayless's Summer Margarita
barely adapted from Fiesta at Rick's
makes nine 6-ounce margaritas
- 1-2 English (hothouse) cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced (you need 3 cups of cucumber slices)
- 1 1/2 cups silver tequila
- 1 1/4 cups fresh lime juice
- 1 cup simple syrup*
- a lime half for moistening the glass rim
- ice cubes
- coarse (kosher) salt
- cucumber slices, for garnish
In a blender, combine the cucumber slices, tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup. Puree until the mixture is smooth. Strain into a pitcher. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
To serve, moisten the rims of your glasses with the lime half. Dip the glass into a plate or bowl of salt to coat the rim of the glass. Fill each glass halfway with ice.
Fill a cocktail shaker 3/4 full with ice, then measure in 1 1/2 cups of the margarita mixture. Shake vigorously 10 to 20 seconds, then pour the margarita into the prepared glasses. Garnish each drink with a cucumber slice, and serve.
Repeat as needed for the remaining margaritas, or store, covered, in the refrigerator for the next round!
*For the simple syrup, combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, swirling often, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool. This can be stored indefinitely in the refrigerator.