Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Clementine Margarita Mix

Confession time: I love store-bought margarita mix. Margaritas are possibly my favorite drink. So tangy and sweet, with a hint of salt, all at once. But let's face it, juicing all those limes takes more time than I care to spend when all I want is a refreshing drink. The store-bought mix makes it so easy. Yet, I feel guilty whenever I buy the stuff. Not that I'm a drink snob, but margarita mix has always seemed to me to be the absolute bottom of the shelf, aside from maybe box wine. So, lately, I've started making up my own mix when I have the time. That way, it's ready to just pour over some ice. It tastes so much better than store-bought, and mixing it ahead of time makes parties really easy. I am set for Cinco de Mayo.

Sadly, there is a shortage on limes this year, so they are a bit pricey. If you can find good ones, Mexican limes (key limes) are best. Of the limes at my local store, the larger Persian ones looked better (and were a bit cheaper), so I went with them. I supplemented my mix with some clementines, which happen to be nearing the end of peak season right now, so they are really ripe and on sale everywhere. They also make the finished drink a pretty orange color.

Clementine Margarita Mix
(Print Recipe)

1 1/4 cup lime juice (17-25 limes, depending on the type and size of lime)
1 1/4 cup clementine juice (15-20 clementines, or mandarin oranges)
2 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
2 cups tequila
3/4 cup triple sec

Combine water, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Stir and heat for several minutes, until sugar and salt dissolve. Turn off heat and allow the mixture to cool. It may look cloudy even after the sugar dissolves, but it will clear up once it cools and all those fine bubbles have a chance to work themselves out.

Meanwhile, juice the limes and mandarin oranges with a citrus juicer. Pour through a strainer to remove the pulp and any stray seeds.

Pour the sugar water, juice, tequila, and triple sec into a container and mix it all together.

Makes about 1/2 gallon.

If you prefer your magaritas virgin, then replace the tequila and triple sec with some extra simple syrup. If you just leave out the alcohol, it ends up a little too tart. I recommend you add 2 cups additional water and 1 cup of sugar.

Chill and stir or shake before serving. Best served with ice. If you want to be really fancy, go ahead and salt the rim of your glass and serve it with a lime and/or clementine wedge.

This drink is so good, I actually bought a dwarf Mexican lime tree so I can make it more often. It will probably be another couple of years before I get any good quantity crop from it, but I'm excited for it nonetheless.

Have a safe and enjoyable Cinco de Mayo! 

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