My favorite margarita to make at home comes frozen, with five ingredients: fresh lime juice, a simple syrup of sugar and water, tequila, and triple sec. At Chuy’s restaurant, where we often ate when we lived in Austin, we were introduced to the fancier sangria margarita, frozen, with a swirl of sangria mixed in. For our less-fancy home version, we simply stir in a shooter made with fruity red wine and peach schnapps.
Sometimes, though, it’s nice to have a non-alcoholic version to suit anyone who likes the margarita’s lime-y sweet taste, but prefers it without the extra baggage, so to speak. What you’ll have instead is basically a sophisticated slushie. A fun trick is to use an electric ice cream maker to create the slush, but if your kitchen is sans ice cream maker, you can create that same texture with a very similar approach to making granita. The only difference in technique is that instead of shaving the ice as it freezes to create a fluffy texture, you stir the liquid as it freezes to create a slushy texture. To get the hit of extra flavor that the red wine shooter adds, I reduced pomegranate juice to a syrup and layered that with the slush just before serving. If left in the freezer indefinitely, the slush will freeze to a hard consistency. Just remove the hardened slush from the freezer, let it warm up for a bit, stir to loosen it up, and it’ll be ready to go again.
As margaritas go, this one’s on the sweetly acidic side, so be sure to balance the drink with some creamy chili con queso or chunky guacamole, and you’ll be on your way to a little taste of what we call “Tex-Mex” around these parts.
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange blossom water
1/2 cup grade A maple syrup
1/2 cup raw honey
2 cups freshly squeezed and strained lime juice (about 20 medium limes)
1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice, reduced to 1/8 cup
sea salt for rimming the glass
Put the pomegranate juice in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Let come to a boil and adjust heat so the liquid is at a medium boil. Watch carefully, lowering the heat a little as the juice reduces to prevent it from scorching, which can happen quickly once the volume is reduced and it begins to thicken. Reduce to about 1/8 cup; the juice will become thick like syrup. Remove from the heat, pour into a heat-safe glass container, and let cool. The consistency of the syrup should be similar to that of maple syrup.
Juice and strain the limes through a fine mesh sieve. Mix the water, orange blossom water, honey, maple syrup together until the honey becomes liquified with the other ingredients. Stir in lime juice. Pour mixture into a long glass casserole dish, cover, and freeze for an hour. After an hour, break up any ice that has formed and stir into the liquid, helping to create a slushy texture. Put the mixture back into the freezer and repeat the process after another hour, continuing until you have a firm slush. For a bit faster, less hands on approach, you can process the mixture in an ice cream maker until it reaches a firm slushy texture.
If you like you can coat the rim of the glass with sea salt. Pour about 1/8 of a cup of sea salt in a small flat-bottomed bowl or container. Dip the rim of the glass in a little of the frozen slush, and then lightly dip the rim of the glass in the sea salt. Tap the glass to shake off any excess salt. Take the pomegranate syrup and drizzle a little on the bottom of four 10-ounce glasses. Spoon some of the lime slush into each glass, then drizzle a little more syrup on top, layering the two flavors until the glass is full. Serve immediately.
Makes about four 7-ounce drinks