Tequila and I haven’t been on speaking terms for a few years now…. not after a few regrettable (but thankfully pre-social-media) incidents.
I do make an exception when it comes to margaritas, though, because they’re so gosh-darned tasty. I like mine shaken (not frozen), not too sweet, and made with real lime juice instead of that gross sour mix stuff.
The classics are fine, but sometimes I like to go a little more new school and throw in some interesting flavours. Raspberry is always good, as are tamarind and , but I’m particularly fond of this version which blends all the elements of the margarita with another favourite Mexican beverage – agua de jamaica.
I can’t remember where I first discovered the deliciousness that is agua de jamaica, but I really fell in love with it during a trip to Oaxaca. Made from dried hibiscus flowers (aka jamaica) and scented with warm spices like ginger, clove and cinnamon.
And, incidentally, it pairs beautifully with the classic margarita trinity of tequila, orange liqueur and fresh lime juice. So beautifully, in fact, that you might be willing to set aside a long-standing grudge with your boozy frenemy, a certain Senor Jose Cuervo.
Good thing this recipe makes an entire pitcher, huh?
Brilliantly pink and tangy-sweet, it’s a lovely change of pace from the traditional citrus-based margarita. Add a basket of tortilla chips to nibble on, and you’ve got yourself a tangy-sweet-spicy sipper that’s perfect for kicking back on a summer afternoon… or a slightly chilly spring day before Cinco de Mayo. Y’know, whatever excuse works for you.
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 stick cinnamon, about 3" long
- 3 slices fresh ginger, about ½" thick
- 4 whole cloves
- ¾ cup dried hibiscus blossoms (flor de jamaica)
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 cup hibiscus syrup
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 cup tequila blanco
- ½ cup orange liqueur (like Triple Sec or Grand Marnier)
- ½ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
- Lime slices, for garnish
- In a small saucepan set over high heat, combine 2 cups of water with sugar, cinnamon stick, ginger slices and cloves. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Remove from heat, and stir in the hibiscus blossoms. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes, or until the syrup is a brilliant shade of dark red. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a 1-litre glass jar. Stir in the lime juice and remaining 2 cups water, and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Fill a glass pitcher about halfway with ice. Add the syrup, water, tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. Stir until combined, and serve immediately over more ice.