Now doesn’t that just say “yeah…get the blender and some ice baby…it’s time for margaritas!” No, no it doesn’t. In fact, it doesn’t say “eat me” or “drink me” in any language. Other than, perhaps, that of an indigenous peoples with no local watering hole serving gourmet cocktails. The Native Americans made do, making peace (and dinner) with their surrounding provision. We are going to engage the prickly pear for sport, bragging rights, and the unmatchably brilliant, deep magenta shade that you won’t get any other way. The week after making these margaritas and our Mole Poblano — with its red-staining peppers — I had a professional meeting with a US law enforcement agency; they took one look at my hot pink and burnt orange stained fingers and asked if I’d robbed a bank or two and been hit with exploding dye packs. So … handle with care, and whimsy … and maybe avoid the law for a while!
Unlike the nopales we used for a salad, the good news is that prickly pear fruit actually have taste and texture/color characteristics that recommend them as an ingredient without substitute. They taste a bit like a kiwi fruit — bright and crisp and sweet — but more intense. And the color, as you will see below, is not something you can get any other way. So grab your oyster shucking gloves and handle a few of these little guys for a uniquely beautiful cocktail.
Prickly Pear Margaritas
Ingredients per person:
1 prickly pear fruit
1 part fresh lime juice
2 parts tequila
1 part Triple Sec or Cointreau
Wearing gloves, if they are not already fairly de-spined, peel the prickly pears with a vegetable peeler and rinse to remove all tiny spines.
Cut into large chunks for the blender, admiring the intensity of color! It’s like a beet, but doesn’t taste like you are eating dirt.
Blend the pears with the lime juice. This is your base.
For each drink, mix a few ounces of the prickly pear base with an equal amount of Cointreau or Triple Sec, and 2 parts tequila. Serve over ice (or blend with ice for those in a frozen mood). Serve with Nopale Salad for sheer pride of having consumed an entire, hostile cactus.