One of the newer food fads is the tasty Prickly Pear Margarita served by trendy restaurants across the Southwest. The margarita
was invented to act as a coping mechanism that both tasted good and made
people feed cool in the hot weather of the region. One reason for the
margarita's rise in popularity is that it is a very versatile recipe that
lends itself to variations in fruit flavorings. Since it original creation,
many variations of the traditional margarita have been created with fresh
flavors like mango and prickly pear. Whether plain, salted, straight up, on
the rocks, or frozen, margaritas are made in an array of flavors and colors.
Prickly pear cactus has been a staple food of
Native Americans for many centuries, with many varieties of prickly pear cacti
growing wild throughout the deserts of the southwest. In the 1500s, Cabeza de
Vaca, and early explorer of the American Southwest, reported that the Native
Americans celebrated the prickly pear harvest with festivities similar to
today's Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Only recently has the fruit become popular in
western cuisines. The fruits, or tunas, of prickly pears are commonly sold in
the markets of Mexico and in the Southwest. they can be eaten fresh, dried, or
used for making juices and syrups.
According to the website
intriguing cocktail was created at The Fort restaurant in Morrison, CO, 17
miles southwest of Denver. The restaurant is a replica of Bent’s Fort, often
visited by Kit Carson. Here’s how co-owner Samuel P. Arnold describes the
origins of this drink in The Fort Cookbook: “Stubby prickly pear cacti with
their flat, pear-shaped lobes are a familiar sight throughout the Southwest.
In the days of Bent’s Fort, traders sometimes came up from New Mexico
bearing syrup made from prickly pear juice. In the 1830s, references were
made to cold prickly pear drinks at the South Platte River fur trade
forts: Lupton, Jackson, Vasquez and St. Vrain.”
My brother and his wife, Jerry and Laura Stewart, of Tucson, Arizona did the taste testing on this recipe. They tasted and tasted until they
felt the right ingredients had been achieved. They said, "The Prickly Pear Margaritas were fantastic! We couldn't stop drinking them.
We especially like the color of the prickly pear juice, and we're margarita snobs!"
Prickly Pear Margarita Recipe
Beverage and Cocktails
Yields: 2 servings
Prep time: 10 min
1/2 cup crushed ice
1 ounces freshly-squeezed
1 ounce undiluted frozen limeade
2 ounces Tequila
1 1/2 ounces Triple Sec
Prickly Pear Cactus Juice*
1 tablespoon granulated sugar or corn syrup
Lime wedges for garnish
* Named for its pear-like shape and size,
this fruit comes from any of several varieties of cacti. Also called cactus
pear, the prickly pear has a melon-like aroma and a sweet but rather bland
In a blender, add crushed ice, lime juice, Tequila, Triple Sec, prickly pear juice,
and sugar or corn syrup; cover and mix ingredients (a pulsating action with 4 or 5 jolts
of the blender works the best). At this point, a taste test WILL be required (while it's
not necessary, it is a requirement - you'll thank me later). Correct with additional sugar
or corn syrup if it is too tart.
Margarita Glasses with coarse salt or
Margarita Salt on the rims of the glasses and a lime slice, and serve immediately.
NOTE: To create a salt-rimmed glass, take a lemon or lime wedge and rub the drinking
surface of the glass so it is barely moist. Dip the edge of the glass into coarse or Kosher salt.
Makes 2 serving.