Sunshine reflecting on the pool, palm trees swaying in the breeze, and Jimmy Buffett playing in the background. This scene needs margaritas. When we arrived in Florida, we immediately headed to the store to stock up on margarita ingredients.
Our smiles turned upside down when we saw the price of limes at more than 60 cents each. It takes a lot of limes to make a proper pitcher of fresh margarita mix, so this would make for some expensive margaritas. Most of our limes in the United States come from Mexico. Unseasonable rains and cold weather during the blooming season in the Veracruz region of Mexico this year has led to a reduced supply of limes and unusually high prices. A difficult situation for margarita lovers.
So what to do with that bottle of Silver Patron tequila impatiently waiting next to the blender? There’s more than one way to make a margarita. It just took a little brainstorming.
Melons of various types were plentiful in the grocery stores and local produce stands. We found several different types of green-fleshed melons, including honeydew and a variety called honeymoon that looks like a cantaloupe on the outside but green on the inside.
We were lunching on some of this juicy melon—that untouched bottle of Patron still languishing on the counter—and realized that it would be a superb companion to the tequila. Into the blender it went, along with a jalapeño pepper (without seeds) and a handful of the basil growing on the terrace. The juice of one lime was enough to counter the sweetness of the melon and brighten the flavors.
The resulting mixture was pretty thick with pulp so we strained it through a fine mesh sieve, using a rubber spatula to get every bit of juice through. (This step is optional.)
To make our margaritas, we poured a 1.5 oz shot of the silver tequila into a cocktail shaker with ice and added the appropriate amount of margarita mix to fit the glass we were using. After a vigorous shaking, the frothy mix was strained into a glass over ice.
These margaritas are fresh, fruity, light and delicious. I’m even tempted to say they are healthier than the average margarita, since there is no added sugar and everyone knows that melons are good for you. Any type of sweet green melon should work well, including the piel de sapo melons that we commonly find in Spain, so we can make them anywhere or anytime we are in a margarita mood. Very few limes required.
Melon Jalapeño Basil Margarita Mix
1 Honeydew or other green melon
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed
juice of 1 lime
handful of basil leaves
silver or blanco tequila, as desired
Remove seeds from the melon and cube or scoop the flesh into a blender. Add the jalapeño pepper, lime juice and a handful of basil to the blender. Blend until smooth.
Strain the mixture by pushing it through a fine mesh sieve with a spatula to remove pulp. Collect the juice and store in the refrigerator.
For each drink, combine the desired amounts of margarita mix and silver or blanco tequila into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass with ice.