Is there any beverage that screams Tex-Mex louder than a margarita? Whether your preference is frozen or on the rocks, salt or no salt, by the glass or by the pitcher, there’s just something about a margarita that makes great food taste even better. But just because traditional margaritas are delectable doesn’t mean that they can’t be improved upon, and even the most devout margarita drinkers may want to “mix things up” every once in a while. Here are some ideas to try the next time you (and your friends and/or family) are planning to eat Tex-Mex food:
Back in our Cinco de Mayo post, we talked about watermelon margaritas being a fun twist on regular margaritas. But watermelon certainly isn’t the only fruit that can be the star of this cocktail. Popular choices include:
- Blood orange
A simple web search can bring up hundreds of recipes for different fruity margaritas, so even folks who aren’t big on lime-flavored drinks can still participate in happy hour. You can even get creative and experiment with different combinations or garnishes. Salt on the rim of the glass may be standard procedure, but sugar and even crushed candy can be delicious, too!
Alcohol-free / Virgin “Margaritas”
Okay, sure, maybe a margarita that doesn’t contain tequila (or any other kind of alcohol) isn’t really a margarita—in fact, virgin margaritas can be as simple as pouring regular limeade (or a citrus “slushy”) into a fancy glass. But there are a couple legitimate reasons that you might want to give these a chance. The first is that they’re great options for folks who abstain from drinking alcohol; non-drinkers can still enjoy the “idea” of a margarita without the booze. Also, a person who is drinking a virgin margarita while everyone else at the party is having “true” margaritas will likely feel less self-conscious than they would if they were drinking, say, a glass of water or soda.
(Speaking of which: please remember that if you ever offer someone an alcoholic beverage and they say “No, thank you,” do not press the matter. And don’t draw attention to the fact that someone isn’t drinking, either. There are plenty of reasons that a person might choose not to imbibe, and it’s nobody’s business but their own. Live and let live!)
Another benefit is that these can be a fun “mocktail” for young children to enjoy. Just as you might let your kid order a Shirley Temple from a restaurant bar, allowing them to have a virgin margarita gives them a chance to feel included in grown-up activities. Plus, a lot of kids really just want to lick the salt off of the rim of the glass more than they want to consume the beverage. If they’re allowed to have their own cup, you won’t have to deal with them mooching off of yours!
Let’s be clear: these are not the drinks that you want to reach for when you’ve eaten too much spicy food and need to quench your palate. Milk is much better suited for that task, anyway! However, if you want a beverage with a “bite” to it, then a margarita infused with chili peppers may just be the correct choice. Jalapeños and chili powder blend surprisingly well with fruit, and you can adjust the flavor and level of heat to your taste. Thrill-seekers and daredevils may even want to try a margarita made with serrano or habanero peppers! Chili-infused margaritas certainly aren’t for everyone, but if you think that regular margaritas taste “bland,” or just genuinely enjoy food that causes you to feel physical pain, then look up some recipes for spicy margaritas.
Traditional margaritas are certainly popular; their unique blend of sweet, tart and salty flavors make them a truly outstanding partner for Tex-Mex food. But everyone has different tastes, and the “perfect” margarita for one person may seem odd or even unsatisfactory to another. So don’t be afraid to experiment! After all, many Tex-Mex restaurants have special “house” margaritas that can only be found under their roof—deviating from the norm may lead you to a brand-new favorite. In this big, wide world of ours, there’s a margarita for everyone!