The Very Merry Cranberry Margarita

by Bev Sanders on December 8, 2011

Nothing goes with summertime like a frosty margarita, but the days are growing shorter. No worries, here’s a seasonal spin on our favorite South-of-the-Border concoction that’s perfect for your party. Just add friends, chips and salsa, and dance tunes.

Special note: Quality ingredients do make a difference, especially the next day. Your guests will thank you. Not to mention, cheap tequila makes bad dates.

Los Ingredientes

1/2 cup raw, coarse sugar, split in half

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed

1 1/2 cups cranberry nectar

Look for a cranberry nectar that’s already sweetened with apple or grape juice. Straight cranberry juice is too tart. R.W. Knudsen or Santa Cruz Organic Cranberry Nectar are good choices.

3/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

The small pre-ripe yellow/green limes yield the most juice, if you can find them. The large dark green mature limes are drier.

6 shots (3/4 cup) tequila

Not expensive sipping tequila, but something respectable. We like El Jimador; it’s quite smooth and not too expensive. Cazadores is also quite nice.

4 shots (1/2 cup) orange-flavored liqueur.

Triple Sec, Cointreau or Patron Citronage are all muy suave.

3 cups coarsely crushed ice

La Preparación

Rim pre-frozen glasses with lime. (We used martini-style cocktail glasses…  classy.) Pour 3 tbsp sugar onto a shallow plate and dip rim into sugar.

(Hint: You can rim half with sugar and half with kosher salt to mix it up.) Set glasses back in freezer.

Frozen version

Save 12 cranberries. In a blender, whirl the remaining cranberries, cranberry juice, sugar, lime juice, tequila, orange liqueur, and ice until smooth and slushy. If necessary, blend in 2 batches, then mix together. Skewer remaining cranberries, wet with lime rind, roll in sugar, and balance artfully on rim of your frozen glass.

Shaken version (see photo)

Same as above, just don’t add ice in the blender. Fill cocktail shaker 1/3 with blended cranberry concoction. Add 1/3 cup crushed ice. Shake like the dickens. Strain into frozen, rimmed cocktail glass. Garnish.

La Celebración

Cue up your holiday salsa set and toast to warm holidays and frosty beverages with your amigos!

Here’s a starter list for some Central American flavor:
Hot Hot Hot by Arrow
Soca singer Arrow brought us this classic Carnival shaker from Trinidad and Tobago.
Buster Poindexter (NY Dolls) did a zany remake and hilarious ’80′s video complete with Bill Murray cameo. Check it out.

La Bamba by Ritchie Valens
A crossover miracle popularized by Ritchie in 1958. Not sure what it means, maybe the shake. I know the refrain includes I’m no sailor, I’m the captain. It’s that rare perfect song. Check out Los Lobos version.

Also in 1958, The Champs played Tequila. It’s one of those over played songs that never gets old, probably because of the catchy beat, easy-to-remember lyric, and ever popular subject matter. Who can hear Tequila and not dance like Pee Wee?

Me Gusta el Son by the Fania Allstars opens with the best keyboard riff for getting folks up and dancing. No idea what it the title means. Let us know on FB. Check out their videos- their band is almost as big as the audience.

Barranquillero Arrebateo by Fruko y Sus Tesos kicks off with another catchy intro. Tempo will even get the couch potatoes up and moving. Wiggle. Wiggle.

Joe Arroyos Las Cajas shows off his silver voice that’s easy on the ears and clear as a bell. Love the piano sections.

For a modern homage of the theme try Tickle It by Mocean Worker. It’s bright and zippy.

Send us your favorites on Facebook.
Everybody dance now.

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