The more time I spend making cocktails, the more often I return to the basics. I’m prone to being seduced by the notion of discovering what’s new about the old and known. I harbor reticence towards infusions (though they can be great), kitchen counter fermentations, eight-plus ingredient potions, and elaborate cocktail presentations.
Still, how many times can one make, say, a mojito, and feel life-affirmed? The answer, for me at least, is many times. Many, many, many times, as Blanche would say. So recently, while developing cocktail slushies for a local microbrewery, I had to contend with my enduringly monogamous relationship to small variations on classic cocktails. It’s like going to a home furniture store to buy something for the apartment and ending up with yet another bed for my dog (most recently, a Ratan chaise, when what I needed was a nightstand). I had to ask myself: Was my cocktail repertoire becoming a rotating list of less adorable dog beds?
I knew that it was my civil duty to feature a frozen margarita at some point, but I resisted until recently. It has been a brutal and hectic summer for me, for reasons external but also due to my own maladapted abilities to be a person. (I want you to imagine a sloth being placed to work on a very busy factory line, trying to keep up.) Watermelons I kept buying in the spirit of the season were disintegrating from the inside out, only to be discarded, and I was coming home from work exhausted and needing a drink. I’m also bad at staying hydrated.
Margaritas are my ride-or-die cocktails. My friends, by now you have the essential equation behind most of my cocktails: Avoiding waste + needing a drink + something familiar + a multi-purpose moment equaled, in this case, a watermelon margarita. “This would make a great slushy,” I thought as I knocked them back. But was it too boring? Too obvious? Why did I care, anyway? Enter my friend, Carlin.
Carlin once sent me a cassis jelly she made that was so good that it brought tears to my eyes. She also just told me that the new rug I bought from IKEA was “just okay.” I love her. And when I saw her post a frozen watermelon margarita she made for her own afterwork leisure, I knew that was the green light I needed. If Carlin, who seems to have a habit of making magical things happen in her home, had a similar notion and was pleased with it, then that was all I needed. God, I hope everyone has a Carlin in their life.
You can make this a few different ways. My original, at-home, extremely-lazy-and-unfrozen way; or the slightly-more-involved-and-frozen way. Both will be tasty, refreshing, almost hydrating, and full of lycopene, which might help your blood pressure depending which medical study you read. I use a Tajin and salt rim on mine because…well, because it’s fucking fantastic, but also entirely optional.
How to make a Watermelon Margarita (the lazy girl summer way)
- 3-4 ripe but not mealy watermelon pieces (like 1” cubes)
- 2 sugar cubes (or 3/4 oz simple, I used sugar cubes because lazy)
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 2 oz tequila (I use blanco)
Muddle watermelon and sugar cubes in a shaker, and add the other ingredients. Fill your shaker with ice and shake for about 6-8 seconds, then strain into a glass filled with fresh ice.
If you want the Tajin/salt rim, grab a small plate and pour the two ingredients on it in whatever ratio you prefer. Take a spent lime half and run it over the rim of your serving glass (before filling with fresh ice) and dunk it on your Tajin/salt mixture. Twist your glass if you want a heavier seasoning. Fill your glass with ice and pour your marg.
How to make a Watermelon Margarita (the hot girl summer Carlin way)
Carlin recommends cutting up a very ripe watermelon (set aside the rind for a cordial) and freezing the pieces ahead of time. This is brilliant because it negates the need for ice, as the frozen watermelon will provide the dilution and the chill factor you need while giving you a lovely, slushy consistency.
- 4-5 frozen watermelon pieces
- 2 oz tequila
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 3/4 oz simple syrup
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend to desire consistency. Pour into a (preferably chilled) glass and love life a little.
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