Raise Your Glass

Margarita means “daisy” in Spanish, and like their floral namesake, these drinks are bound to add freshness and fun to any table.

Written by:Paul Hagen
Photographed by:Steve Henke
Cucumber margarita sitting on Cambria Ruxley™ quartz countertops.

Cambria design shown: Ruxley™

What do you do when a beautiful showgirl works in your restaurant and longs to enjoy a cocktail, but the only spirit that she can tolerate is tequila? If you’re Danny Herrera, you mix that tequila with lime juice and orange liqueur and name the concoction in the girl’s honor. Sure this origin story for the margarita is likely fictional. But, like the drink itself, it has a certain zing that makes it worth repeating.

More likely, margaritas first kissed lips as part of the intense Prohibition-era mixers meant to mask the flavor of whatever spirits were available. But these cocktails have evolved to almost infinite variations. Mixologists substitute the tequila for smoky mezcal or swap in various other juices. Some add agave nectar for extra sweetness. Others wake the palate with spices and salt on the rim.

So, in the spirit of summer fun, we’ve gathered some exciting margarita variations, guaranteed to set taste buds tingling.

Strawberry margaritas sitting on top of Cambria Ruxley™ quartz countertops.

Cambria design shown: Ruxley

Strawberry Basil Margarita

Adapted from Our Salty Kitchen
Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 basil sprigs
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • ½ pint fresh strawberries
  • 1 Tbls. honey
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ c. Blanco tequila
  • 1½ oz. Cointreau

Preperation:

Rim the glasses with about ¼ c. of kosher salt and lime zest. Fill each glass with ice.

Place the strawberries, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and honey into a blender. Blend thoroughly on high until the strawberries are pulverized. Finely chop the basil and place into the bottom of a decanter or cocktail shaker. Muddle the basil to release the flavors and oils. Pour the blended margarita ingredients into the decanter along with the muddled basil and stir vigorously to incorporate. Pour into salted, iced glasses and serve immediately.

Tip: Rim your glass with pink Himalayan salt to really wow the senses!

A Spicy Margarita sitting on Cambria Ivybridge™ quartz countertops.

Cambria design shown: Ivybridge™

Smokey Watermelon Margarita

Adapted from Half Baked Harvest
Serves 1

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 fresh leaves of basil or mint
  • 1 tsp. Chipotle chili powder
  • 1 jalapeño slice
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 c. watermelon
  • 1 pinch granulated sugar
  • ¼ c. flaky sea salt
  • ¼ c. sparkling water
  • ½ oz. Cointreau
  • 2 oz. mezcal or silver tequila

PREPARATION:

Blend 2 c. cubed watermelon in a blender, and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher.

To make the chili salt, combine chili powder, salt, and sugar on a shallow plate. Rim your glass in salt.

In a shaker, add ¼ c. watermelon juice, mezcal, Cointreau, lemon juice, mint/basil, and jalapeño slices. Fill with ice and shake until combined, about 1 minute. (The longer you shake, the spicier it will be). Strain into your prepared glass. Top with sparkling water, if desired. Garnish as desired with a watermelon wedge and fresh herbs.

Tip: For a little extra dimension, add a splash of dry sparkling rosé to allow this cocktail to really sparkle.

Cucumber margarita sitting on Cambria Ruxley™ quartz countertops.

Cambria design shown: Ruxley

Spicy Cucumber Margarita

Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS:

For the Drink

  • 4–6 cucumber slices
  • 4 fresh mint leaves (optional)
  • 2 oz. silver tequila
  • ½ oz. orange liquor
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • 1–2 jalapeño slices
  • 2 tsp. honey or sugar
  • Ginger beer, for topping (optional)

For the Chili Salt

  • ¼ c. pink sea salt or flaky sea salt
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1 pinch granulated sugar
  • Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

PREPARATION

To make chili salt, combine the salt, chili powder, and sugar on a shallow plate. Rim your glass, then fill with ice.

In a cocktail shaker or glass jar, add cucumbers, mint (if using), tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and honey or sugar. Muddle together to release the juices. Add the jalapeño slices. Fill with ice and shake until combined, about 1 minute. (The longer you shake, the spicier it will be.)

Strain into your prepared glass. Top with ginger beer, if desired. Garnish with cucumbers and thyme.

Tip: Add a splash of chilled Vinho Verde to this summer treat to truly allow your palate the perfect spa day.

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