From the Cellar: Margaritas spread their wings for Cinco - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

From the Cellar: Margaritas spread their wings for Cinco

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Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 1:16 am | Updated: 11:35 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

I miss visiting Mesa Southwest Museum (now known as the Arizona Museum of Natural History) - but not for the same reasons as my kids. When they were younger, they wanted to go to see meteorites, dinosaur fossils and pan for gold, while I fantasized about a glass of watermelon juice and the taco plate at Mangos on Main Street. ("Sure, kids, let's go to the museum. No, we don't need to pack a lunch.")

The exotic juices of Mangos inspired my own work in the kitchen, especially when it came to margaritas. Fresh watermelon juice combined with varying amounts of classic margarita ingredients (tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice) and the modest margarita experience is taken to another level. Mango puree, strawberries, pineapple, melons and others have a place in the juicer - and blender.

Even herbs, peppers and spices should be considered. Remember the basil martini craze a couple of years ago? The same aromatic herb puts an exotic twist on the limey-sweet goodness of the humble margarita. But skip the tomato juice on this one.

My kids are older and I don't lunch at Mangos as much as I would like to, but its influence is still felt during happy hour. Especially with Cinco de Mayo on the horizon, it's time to toss out the overly sweet ready-made margarita mixes and go for something fresh and light and off the beaten path. I'm leaning toward serving whipped raspberry margaritas with shrimp and chicken fajitas next week. Here are a few recipes to consider for your May 5 festivities.

WATERMELON MARGARITA

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4 ounces tequila

1 cup diced, seedless watermelon

2 ounces orange liqueur such as Cointreau or triple sec

4 ounces lime juice

2 ounces orange juice

2 ounces sour mix

1 cup ice

Granulated sugar

Lime and watermelon wedges for garnish

Preparation: In a blender, add fruit, tequila, orange liqueur, sour mix, juices and ice. Whip. Line a margarita glass by moistening rim with a lime wedge and dipping into plate of sugar. Fill glass with margarita and garnish with lime and watermelon wedge.

PINA MARGARITA

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4 ounces tequila

1/2 cup fresh chunk pineapple

4 ounces lime juice

2 ounces orange liqueur

2 ounces pineapple juice

2 ounces sour mix

Granulated sugar

Lime and pineapple wedges for garnish

Preparation: In a blender, add pineapple, tequila, orange liqueur, sour mix, juices and ice. Whip. Line a margarita glass by moistening rim with a lime wedge and dipping into plate of sugar. Fill glass with margarita and garnish with lime and pineapple wedges.

MEDITERRANEAN MARG

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4 ounces tequila

2 springs fresh basil

2 ounces orange liqueur

4 ounces orange juice

4 ounces lime juice

Bar or kosher salt

Lime wedges and basil sprigs for garnish

Preparation: Muddle basil and tequila for two minutes, let stand for five more. Strain infused tequila into shaker with ice, removing basil leaves and stems. Add juices and orange liqueur and shake until cold. Line a margarita glass by moistening rim with a lime wedge and dipping into plate of salt. Fill glass with ice and margarita and garnish with lime wedge and basil sprig.

RASPBERRY MARGARITA

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4 ounces tequila

1/4 cup fresh raspberries

4 ounces lime juice

2 ounces orange liqueur

2 ounces orange juice

2 ounces raspberry liqueur such as Chambord

Granulated sugar

Skewered raspberries and lime wedges for garnish

Preparation: In a blender, add tequila, raspberries, orange and raspberry liqueurs, juices and ice. Whip. Line a margarita glass by moistening rim with a lime wedge and dipping into plate of sugar. Fill glass with margarita and garnish with lime wedge and raspberry skewers.

HONEYDROP MARGARITA

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4 ounces tequila

1/2 cup diced and seeded honeydew melon

2 ounces orange liqueur

4 ounces lime juice

2 ounces orange juice

2 ounces Midori (melon liqueur)

1 cup ice

Granulated sugar

Lime and honeydew wedges for garnish

Preparation: In a blender, add melon, tequila, orange liqueur, sour mix, juices and ice. Whip. Line a margarita glass by moistening rim with a lime wedge and dipping into plate of sugar. Fill glass with margarita and garnish with lime and honeydew wedges.

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