Meyer lemon margaritas

Citrus season is coming to a close and ever since our jam moratorium (no new sweet preserves until the pantry shelves are relieved of previous years’ preserves), I’ve been using my Meyers in new, not-marmalade ways. Thanks to Kristina, who shared her backyard bounty with us, I pretty much exhausted my usual repertoire (cake, limoncello, preserved lemons (recipe in my book), a tart from Smitten Kitchen, juiced and frozen in cubes, candied peels a la David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert book, Meyer lemon buttermilk popsicles (recipe will be in new book!). And then I added tequila. (For the record, adding tequila to anything is a good idea.)

I’ve made variations on this drink over the winter months, each time a little differently but with equally fabulous results. By far the best version involved using some of the leftover syrup from my candied peels (mixed with a little water since it was so viscous) as the sweetener, but that’s not an ingredient most of us have on hand, myself included this week. 

Clearly, opinions abound about what makes the perfect margarita; I’ll leave that to you to ponder while you sip this one and see how it stacks up. 

I’m sure you could use regular lemons, but then it wouldn’t be a Meyer lemon margarita and I can’t say what it will taste like and if you’ll need more sweetness or not or how it compares to the recipe I actually made. You’ll have to tell me about it if you do it with regular lemons.

Meyer lemon margaritas

yields four 6-oz margaritas

1. Start with 3 large Meyer lemons, juice them for a yield of ~3/4 cup strained juice (or a pint jar full of frozen juice cubes—Thanks Mary for your brilliant comment!!), set aside. Roughly chop 2 of the rind halves and keep handy. Reserve the other rind halves for garnish and something fabulous.

2. Make the simple syrup by dissolving 1/2 cup sugar in 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over low heat. once sugar granules are dissolved, raise heat to medium and bring to a boil. Add prepared chopped rind and bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, place lid on saucepan and allow to cool. (can be made in advance and stored in fridge for up to 1 week; you’ll end up with about 2 rounds of drinks with these proportions)

Or skip making a rind-infused syrup and dissolve 1 Tbs sugar or agave in 1/3 cup water (just keep stirring and it’ll dissolve eventually)

3. While syrup cools, prepare your glasses. I’m a salted rims kind of gal. Scatter a few tablespoons of kosher salt onto a saucer. To get the salt to stick, take a thin strip of rind and apply pressure to rub it around the rim, just pressing on the top and not the sides (it could gunk up the glass a bit, no biggie, just aesthetics). Plop rim in salt.

Cut one of the other rind halves into thin strips (or shapes, if you have time on your hands waiting for the syrup to cool) and try to do something cool with them. You can also take a potato peeler and shave off a strip of zest from an intact lemon or (carefully) from the remaining halves left from juicing. 

4. Pour 4-6oz tequila, 3/4 cup strained Meyer lemon juice, 1/4 cup simple syrup and 1 Tbs Meyer or regular limoncello (or Cointreau, or omit it) into a shaker or just stir well to incorporate. For pretty foamy top, toss into the shaker a few ice cubes (or Meyer lemon juice cubes if you have them) and shake!

Add ice to salt-rimmed cups and pour mixture, filling each glass halfway at first and then topping off to make four even glasses.