Add Tomato Juice To Your Next Summer Margarita To Bring Out The Tequila's Flavor

There's no doubt that sweet, umami-rich tomatoes are well-overdue for a cocktail makeover. We'll happily sip a bloody maria, but tomato juice and tequila can do much more. Look no further than the margarita (cocktail, not pizza), where summer produce shines alongside this crisp liquor.

An easy starting point when incorporating the fruit is to combine store-bought or homemade tomato juice with a sweet simple syrup or agave syrup, lime juice, orange liqueur, and tequila. Alternatively, cooks may prefer to muddle cherry or grape varieties directly into tequila instead of procuring juice. Or you can make a tomato syrup with sliced fresh tomatoes or the juice of canned tomatoes by boiling them with sugar and water, though the cooking process may alter the fruit's flavor. The important part is adding the ingredient — aim for just about an ounce of juice per cocktail, adjusting salt and sweeteners to taste.

The best tequila for margaritas will help cut through any heavy or savory notes the tomato brings, while a finishing squeeze of lime will draw out more of the spirit's citrus notes. Blanco tequila's fruity, sweet side will also shine alongside the pleasantly acidic summer produce, too. If you choose a vegetal tequila from Jalisco's lowlands, the margarita may also show off the richness and earthy qualities of the agave liquor, offering drinkers a new perspective on the popular alcohol. Better yet, experiment with different tomato varieties to see how their aromas complement your favorite bottles.

Maximizing your tomato's juice

When building a margarita designed to highlight the tart, savory, and sugary facets of a ripe tomato, home cooks can take a slower — but just as rewarding — approach to their juice base. Prepare a cheong, a Korean fruit syrup produced by macerating fruit in sugar. Here, you'll use equal weights of chopped tomato and sugar. Allow your mixture to liquefy in the fridge overnight or slightly ferment over the course of a week, tasting as you go, then strain out the pulp.

The result is a concentrated additive that's sweet, tangy, light, and charmingly pink-hued. Plus, it's a heat-free approach, which means your tomatoes will maintain their fresh-off-the-vine brightness. You can tailor the syrup to your tequila of choice with the addition of zesty citrus and grassy herbs. Or tamper down the sweetness by balancing the finished product with extra salt. For an even more concentrated flavor, allow additional sliced tomatoes to soak in tequila to simultaneously infuse the booze, too.


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Mezcal fans may prefer to draw out the savory, smoky notes of their favorite spirit. Try roasting tomatoes, rosemary, and onions in the oven before creating your juice or syrup. Or pop the fruit and limes on the grill to dial up the charred aroma ahead of making a cheong. With these twists, cooks can subtly draw out the agave's potential hints of citrus, caramelized onion, or pine.

Garnishes to highlight tequila's complexity

Adding a squeeze of lime will draw out more of the spirit's citrus taste and help ease margarita fans into this non-traditional drink iteration. The addition of fresh basil, thyme, or cilantro, common pairings with fresh tomatoes, will also complement the herbal undertones of the alcohol. Savory tomato juice also shines with the addition of heat from jalapeño or black pepper, which can highlight any peppery notes in your bottle, as well.

The beauty of this ingredient is that it takes well to both salty and sweet garnishes, which means amateur bartenders can also add nuance to the drink through its rim. A swipe of chunky salt and a sheet of umami-rich nori can push tequila into savory territory, whereas a dab of spicy Tajín or tart chamoy can lighten up the umami-rich drink. Margarita aficionados who prefer to use reposado tequila in cocktails can head to sweeter territory with a sugar rim and bittersweet, oaky Grand Marnier to draw out the aged liquor's vanilla aroma.

Truly charm your drinking companions by completing your mixture with a fancy ice cube. Freeze a single cherry or grape tomato in water for a photo-worthy finishing touch. Aromatics, like herbs or charred lime, can also get layered into the cubes, depending on the size of your molds. As an added bonus, the ice and any leftover syrup or juice can get repurposed into a mocktail, as well, for any guests looking for non-alcoholic refreshments.