Is it happy hour yet? I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a tall, refreshing summer cocktail and the lovely late afternoon light on the patio that should go with it. Oma Blaise Ford here, executive editor at BHG. When I’m not wielding my editing pen at the magazine, I love to cook, have friends over, and mix up a great-tasting cocktail. So I was thrilled to accept the challenge when our food editor, Nancy Hopkins, asked me if I’d develop a collection of garden-inspired summer drinks for the June issue.
I’ve been called a cocktail geek, and that may be true, but what’s even truer is that I am a flavor freak. What I love about cocktails is what I love about cooking—creating great flavors and delicious combinations. Sometimes those yummy combos come from unexpected places, and sometimes you need a little push to try something different. Case in point: Cherry Tomato Margarita.
I love sweet little cherry tomatoes — when I have people over in the summer, a bowl of these beauties from the farmer’s market or garden is always among the nibbles I serve with drinks. But I hadn’t thought about using them in cocktails until a couple of years ago when I was having dinner at the bar at Range restaurant in San Francisco. They had a drink on the menu that had Sungold cherry tomatoes in it, and I was both intrigued and a little skeptical. The bartender gave me a taste, and I was very pleasantly surprised.
That surprise was my inspiration for the margarita in our June story. It’s got all the classic margarita elements: tart lime, tequila, and velvety orange liqueur (I like Grand Marnier in this version, but you can use your own favorite). But then underneath that classic mixture is the bright, summery sweetness of the muddled cherry tomatoes.
And here’s the main secret to tasty success: Choose the best, sweetest cherry tomatoes you can get your hands on. Tart or more vegetal tasting tomatoes will impart a hint of bitterness to the drink. I tried this with both yellow and red cherry tomatoes and found that yellow seemed to work better with the rest of the flavors. I also threw just pinch of salt into the shaker when I muddled the tomatoes to enhance the flavor — even if you don’t like salt on the rim, I recommend you include this bit of salt in the mix. But don’t be afraid to adjust the amount of lime or simple syrup to suit your own taste. I happen to like my margaritas on the tart side, but if you like them sweeter add a little more syrup.
Now, go get shaking and let us know what you think. Get the recipe here!
Want to know which of the cool summer sips was the staff favorite when we tasted them at the story pitch (seen above)? You can watch me make it over here.
Curious about the inspiring tomato cocktail from Range? I shared my recreation of that drink over on my friend Annette Joseph’s blog last year.
You can check out my cocktail ramblings on my personal tumblr.