Fruity margaritas can be a hard sell. Make it too fruity and sweet, and it's off-putting for margarita purists. Make it not fruity or sweet, and it's off-putting to everyone else. Strawberries can also be hard to incorporate into drinks because they can be bland and watery if not in their prime season. So while a strawberry margarita seems like a good idea in theory, they are often either boring and underwhelming, or cloyingly sweet with artificial strawberry flavor.
Of course, leave it to the incomparable Rick Bayless to work out all the kinks. His strawberry margarita is far and away the best one I've ever had. Sweet and luscious strawberry flavor, a nice boozy kick from the tequila, and just enough lime juice to balance out the sweetness.
He has a few tricks up his sleeve that help to put this margarita over the top. The first is using aperol as a supporting player. The sweetness of the strawberries is nicely tempered by this dry, slightly bitter liqueur. Strawberry puree gives you the most pure, fresh, and natural strawberry flavor, and finally, the strawberry sugar rim pushes the whole thing to a new level. You use freeze-dried strawberries mixed with sugar to create the rim, and the result is what MAKES this the ultimate strawberry margarita. freeze-dried strawberries, not to be confused with regular dried strawberries, are pulverized with the sugar in a food processor to create the powder for the rim. I am normally a fan of salt with my margaritas, but the sweet and slightly tart strawberry rim makes this just over the top amazing.
Our street is having a Cinco de Mayo block party tomorrow, and I will be bringing a pitcher of these babies. I hope you all celebrate Cinco de Mayo this weekend with a strawberry margarita!
The Ultimate Strawberry Margarita
from Frontera by Rick Bayless
makes 8 cocktails
- 3 cups hulled and halved fresh strawberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups tequila blanco
- 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup Aperol
- 1/2 cup orange liqueur
- 1 lime wedge
- strawberry sugar (recipe follows)
- ice cubes
In a food processor, combine the strawberries and sugar and puree until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve and refrigerate until ready for use.
In a pitcher, combine 1 1/2 cups of the strawberry puree, tequila, lime juice, aperol, and orange liqueur. Stir well and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
Use a lime to moisten the rims of 8 6-oz cocktail glasses, and dip the rims into the strawberry sugar. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice, then pour in a little over 1 cup of the chilled margarita. Shake and strain into 2 of the sugar-crusted glasses. Repeat with the remaining margaritas. Garnish with fresh strawberries or limes if desired, and serve.
- 1 oz freeze dried strawberries (can be found at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or other well-stocked grocery stores)
- 1 oz granulated sugar
Combine the strawberries and sugar in a coffee grinder or small food processor and pulverize until a coarse powder forms. Set aside until ready to use.