frozen watermelon margarita

I know what everyone keeps saying, but you guys, it’s still summer!!! I swear it!

frozen watermelon margaritas | Brooklyn Homemaker.com

It seems like every year, come August, people start whining and mourning the end of summer, at least six weeks prematurely. I don’t know if you’ve been outside lately, but it’s freakin’ hot out there.
While everyone is lamenting the onset of cold weather, we’re smack dab in the middle of our second heatwave in less than a month. You can’t go outside without sweating through your clothes, and the farmer’s markets are exploding with gorgeous tomatoes and stone fruit.

frozen watermelon margaritas | Brooklyn Homemaker.com

Last week my mom had some vacation time and wanted to take a break from fixing up her new old house and get away for a few days. She piled in the car with my little sister and drove down to Brooklyn to hang out with me and Russell, and get in some snuggle time with Doris and Betty (she calls them her granddoggers!).

While she was here we drove down to Coney Island to ride the Cyclone and check out the freak show. There were also margaritas involved. Later that night, safely back in Bushwick with dinner tucked into our bellies, mom suggested we pick up some tequila and have a few more.

frozen watermelon margaritas | Brooklyn Homemaker.com

Mom isn’t really a big drinker, but as far back as I can remember, she’s always been a big fan of frozen drinks. She usually makes them a bit on the weak side, just strong enough to have a little fun without getting messy, but either way she likes them just the same. When I was growing up whenever mom had a party she’d dust off the blender and stock the freezer with those frozen cocktail mixers they keep next to the OJ in the frozen food aisle. She’d usually even make an extra batch without the booze just for us kids.

To this day, it isn’t a party at mom’s house without an frosty pitcher of margaritas, daiquiris, or piña coladas. In fact, the last time I was home we decided to have a little family cookout and I swear my Aunt D wasn’t even out of her car before she was asking where her piña colada was!

frozen watermelon margaritas | Brooklyn Homemaker.com

Given my mom’s inclination to imbibe the icy stuff, I picked up a bag of ice along with my liquor and limes. Since mom sometimes likes her drinks sweet and fruity, I grabbed a bag of frozen strawberries too.

Not really fond of store bought mixes, I knew I wanted to make my margaritas from scratch, but I’ve never found a frozen margarita recipe that I loved (until now). Off I went to google, and on the pages of Serious Eats I found what I believe is seriously the world’s greatest and most perfect frozen margarita recipe ever. I’ve had MANY mediocre margaritas in my day, so I really wasn’t expecting much. I knew mom would love them either way, so I gave this recipe a whirl (literally). The only change I made was to substitute about half of the ice cubes with frozen strawberries. I was floored by how good they were, and we ended up making a second pitcher before the night was through, and another two pitchers the next night! They’re not too sweet, not too sour, not too strong, not too weak. Literally perfect. I cannot sing enough praises for this recipe.

frozen watermelon margaritas | Brooklyn Homemaker.com

When we decided to have some friends over in the backyard this past weekend, I decided to revisit the recipe, this time with just a few small changes. Rather than using (somewhat flavorless) frozen strawberries, I decided to celebrate what’s left of summer with fresh watermelon instead. I picked up a whole seedless watermelon, removed the rind, cut the fruit into cubes, and froze them in a single layer on a sheet pan. Instead of half fruit, half ice, this time I used no ice.
All watermelon, all the time.

The only thing about adding so much fruit to the recipe was that they ended up a little too sweet for my taste, so I decided to make a few (tiny) changes to the next batch; namely reducing the simple syrup and increasing the booze (cuz that’s how I roll).

frozen watermelon margaritas | Brooklyn Homemaker.com

You’ll want to get started on these a day (or two) ahead so you have time to freeze the watermelon, but once you get everything prepped these puppies are a breeze to make with a good strong blender. To make sure your drinks are as icy as possible, it’s best to mix the tequila base together and put it in the freezer ahead of time too. The tequila and triple sec will keep the lime juice and simple syrup from freezing solid, but while still liquid, your mixer with be as icy cold as can be. A whole watermelon is enough for several pitchers, so I put a half dozen containers of mixer in the freezer at the same time.

It was a party, how dare you judge me!

As you may have guessed, these suckers were met with rave reviews. They’re so perfectly summery, so perfectly refreshing, so perfectly delicious, so perfectly perfect; that I still can hardly believe it. Man I could go for another one right about now…

frozen watermelon margaritas | Brooklyn Homemaker.com

Frozen Watermelon Margaritas

adapted (just barely) from Serious Eats

5 ounces (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) silver tequila (100% agave is best)
2 ounces (1/4 cup) good quality Triple Sec or orange liqueur
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) fresh lime juice (from 4 to 5 limes)
2 ounces (1/4 cup) simple syrup (see notes below)
4 cups cubed seedless watermelon (rind removed)

At least 8 hours ahead:
Arrange the cubed watermelon on a parchment lined sheet pan and place in the freezer for several hours or until completely frozen. The parchment will make it easier to remove the frozen cubes. Once frozen, transfer to an air-tight container or zip-top freezer bag.

In another air-tight container, combine tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and simple syrup and freeze for at least 8 hours or up to one week (mixture will remain liquid). You can mix several batches ahead, but freeze each one in a separate container because a standard blender will only fit one recipe at a time.

When you’re ready to party:
Combine your frozen watermelon with the tequila mixture in the pitcher of a powerful blender. Blend on highest setting, pulsing and scraping down sides if necessary, until completely smooth. Serve immediately. If desired, garnish with a small wedge of fresh watermelon.

Notes: To make simple syrup, combine equal volumes of sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Cool before combining with alcohol.
While you certainly can mix the base just before blending, your drinks will be significantly less frosty and more liquid. The base mixture can be made up to a week ahead and stored in the freezer.
In my experience, a small to medium seedless watermelon gave me enough cubes for roughly 8 pitchers of this recipe, but that will depend on the size of your watermelon.


the paloma cocktail

It’s finally FINALLY starting to warm up and stay warm(ish) outside.

the paloma cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know that it’s not actually WARM, yet, but it’s warmer, and I’ll take it. Today the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and Doris and Betty were driving me crazy going outside and coming back in and running back and forth all day long. All this warm(ish) weather had me standing outside in our backyard, wandering around staring hard at the dirt to see if I could spy any little hints of green poking up from underneath the soil. It also had me yearning for backyard barbecues and fresh summery cocktails.

I guess Russell had the same idea, because when I came home from work yesterday he greeted me at the door with a sparkling, icy, fresh paloma. If you’ve never had a paloma, it’s really one of the simplest cocktails you can make, and one of the most delicious you can drink. It’s little more than a few ounces of white tequila served over ice and topped with grapefruit soda. I’ve seen it gussied up at fancy restaurants with homemade soda, fresh fruit juice, and salt or sugar rimmed glasses; but I really think that in this case you shouldn’t mess with tradition. This super simple cocktail is said to be the most popular tequila-based cocktail in Mexico, more popular than the margarita, and once you taste it you’ll understand why.

the paloma cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

I can actually remember the exact moment that I tasted my first paloma. It was the summer of 2008, I was waiting tables in Williamsburg Brooklyn, and the restaurant where I worked added a paloma to their seasonal cocktail menu. I was hesitant to try it at first because at that time I tended to stick with whiskey or gin, and really didn’t care for tequila. I did love grapefruit though, so I let the bartender twist my arm and I was hooked for life. It went straight to the top of my list of favorite summertime libations, and ended up being a gateway drink that taught me to love tequila.

the paloma cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

Traditionally a paloma is served in a highball with a pinch of salt and squeeze of lime. It’s decidedly unfussy, so you really don’t need to rush out and buy the fanciest tequila or make your own grapefruit soda. I recently discovered that San Pellegrino makes a grapefruit soda called “Pompelmo” that’s seriously perfect for making palomas. It’s made with real grapefruit juice so it has a fresher, more natural flavor, without all the bother of making your own soda. If you can’t find the SanPellegrino Pompelmo don’t freak, you can make a totally legit and delicious paloma using Squirt or Fresca.

the paloma cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

Brooklyn is in the midst of a resurgence of fancy-pants depression-era craft cocktails, but every once in a while a simple classic does the job without all the fuss. You don’t need to know how to tie a bow tie or wax a mustache to make this cocktail. Not only is the paloma super easy to make, but it tastes totally amazing! Even though it’s made from little more than soda and hooch, it tastes impossibly summery and refreshing. It literally tastes like sunshine and warm weather. Are you thirsty yet?

The recipe is so ridiculously simple that it’s almost silly to write it out, but check it out below. In the words of Russell, “It’s so easy it’s stupid.” If you want a to gussy it up a little you can salt or sugar the rim of your glass before serving, but I don’t think you need to bother.

the paloma cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

The Paloma

  • Servings: one 7 oz cocktail
  • Print

2 oz silver tequila
6 oz grapefruit soda
pinch of kosher salt
1 lime wedge

Fill a highball or rocks glass with ice. Pour tequila over ice, sprinkle with salt, and top with grapefruit soda. Squeeze some juice from the lime wedge into the drink, and add the wedge. Stir. Sip. Enjoy.