Cardinal Red Margarita

Winter is here, the holiday season is upon us, and it has (finally) become cold outside. There's a bright red cardinal sitting on a bare branch in our yard - looking like a Christmas ornament. Northern Cardinals are not migratory birds. They stay put throughout the winter. It's heartening to see them in the colder months, and during the holidays they appear festive and provide a reminder of the warmer seasons to come. So, after birdwatching for a few minutes, our team got to work. The Artist pulled out his paintbrush to do watercolor of the bird, and the Mixologist decided to use the cardinal as an inspiration for a holiday cocktail.

A margarita is something we mix up most often during the summer (or on the occasional taco night), but there really isn't any good reason to push the tequila to the back of the cabinet during the colder months. For this "winterized" version, we are adding to the tartness by mudding pomegranate seeds in the cocktail. We have another margarita recipe on the blog (our go-to version that uses Mezcal), but this bright cardinal-red version seems appropriate for the holidays - and, of course, pomegranates are in season right now.

Removing the seeds from a pomegranate can be a bit of a challenge. There are a bunch of "tips" on the internet, but we found that the best way is to cut the fruit in half and then into wedges - cutting through the the white membrane. You then bend the wedges backwards to expose the seeds and gently pull them out using your fingers or a small spoon. Don't bother with the method that suggests you whack the pomegranate half with a wooden spoon to release the seeds - unless you have plans to repaint your kitchen soon.

In addition to fresh pomegranate, we used Pama Pomegranate Liqueur to add some sweetness and boost the pomegranate flavor. We tried versions of this cocktail using Grand Marnier (instead of Cointreau), but found that the Grand Manier didn't balance as well with the tartness of the lime and pomegranate. Use a decent quality silver tequila, so that the tequila taste comes through (and doesn't end up buried by the other ingredients).

So here's our Cardinal Red (and Christmasy) Margarita. It's fairly tart (like a margarita should be) which makes it a good counterpoint to all of those sweets you're probably having during the holidays.

Cheers!



Cardinal Red (Pomegranate) Margarita

1 1/2 ounces Silver Tequila
1 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce Pama Pomegranate Liqueur
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1 heaping tablespoon fresh pomegranate seeds

Put pomegranate seeds and lime juice in a measuring cup and muddle. Pour the juice through a mesh strainer into a cocktail shaker and add remaining ingredients and ice cubes. Shake well and strain into a margarita glass or a tumbler with ice cubes. Garnish with a lime wedge or a twist.



muddling pomegranate seeds and lime juice


pouring the juice through a mesh strainer (into the cocktail shaker)


Cardinal in Winter - original watercolor painting by The Cocktail Artist



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