Saturday, September 20, 2014

Drink Your Beets With This Beet Margarita

The other evening a friend was having a couple of pals over for drinks and snacks to celebrate her fabulous new job. The plan was to have margaritas, but the weather forecast had turned from sun to clouds. Our e-mail exchange follows:

Friend: "Maybe we should do wine rather than drinks. Might be past margarita season."

Me: "What??? Past margarita season? Nevah!"

Friend: "OK. You convinced me. There’s a new bottle of tequila in the freezer…"

And with that, the clouds parted, the sun came out and our evening on her deck (with margaritas) was saved. Hallelujah.

I first had a beet margarita, oddly enough, at Dayna McErlean's Yakuza. Known for its Asian-influenced cuisine, it might seem counterintuitive to feature a traditional Mexican cocktail on the bar menu, but this beet-infused version paired quite well with its Asian flavors and ingredients. Yakuza serves it on the rocks; I prefer mine up in a martini glass. Whichever way you go, its spectacular deep ruby color will garner oohs and aahs, and the bright flavor will complement just about anything—and, for me, any kind of weather—you choose to serve it with.

Beet Margarita

For the infusion:
2 medium-sized red beets
1 bottle tequila*

For the margarita:
Kosher salt (optional)
2 oz. beet-infused tequila
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup
1/2 tsp. triple sec or Cointreau
Lime slice or lime wedge for garnish

Peel and slice beets. The thinner the slices, the better the infusion. Put the beets in a large non-reactive bowl or glass container and pour tequila over them. Cover the container and refrigerate for about a week. 

If you choose to make a salt rim on the glasses, take a wedge of lime and slice it once crosswise through the flesh, stopping before piercing the peel. Put the cut wedge over the rim of the glass and run it around the edge. This gives the salt a wet surface to stick to. Pour a mound of salt onto a plate and, holding the glass at an angle, push the rim into the mound and twirl the glass to coat the rim.

Fill cocktail shaker half full of ice. Add tequila, lime juice, simple syrup and triple sec and shake well. Strain into chilled martini or, if serving on ice, a rocks glass. Float lime slice on top or squeeze a wedge and drop into the glass.

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