There's no need to put the margaritas down when summer ends, simply switch to a more seasonal recipe. The cranberry margarita is a fantastic choice as we find ourselves in the midst of autumn. It has the iconic flavors of apple, cinnamon and cranberry with a tequila background, and it's a lot of fun for a cool weather party.
This cranberry margarita is no ordinary fruity tequila cocktail. It has depth and that warm, soothing character that we crave come fall. The recipe begins with a homemade apple-cinnamon tequila, which takes about a week to infuse (or you can take a shortcut if you don't have that much time). From there, you'll build the drink with a standard margarita formula, using cranberry juice as your featured fruit.
It's surprisingly simple and the tequila infusion is very easy, so you can make this delightful margarita no matter your experience in the bar.
In a cocktail shaker, combine all of the ingredients.
Fill the shaker with ice and shake well.
Garnish with an apple wedge or lemon twist.
Tip: Whenever you use an apple for a garnish, dip it in lemon juice as soon as it's cut. This will prevent it from turning brown as the fruit's flesh hits the oxygen in the air.
DIY Apple-Cinnamon Tequila
The signature ingredient in this cranberry margarita is the apple-cinnamon tequila. You will have to make it yourself because there are none available on the market. The great news is that it's incredibly easy and takes very little work, just a bit of patience.
The tequila infusion requires just three ingredients: tequila, two apples and two cinnamon sticks. You will also want an infusion jar, such as a large mason jar with a lid that has a tight seal. You can make as much apple-cinnamon tequila as you like, though it's often better to begin with half a bottle of tequila on your first batch.
For the tequila, a blanco (silver) tequila is nice, but a reposado tequila is even better. The tequila's slight oakiness from aging and earthy agave flavors are perfect for the apple-cinnamon flavors.
Which apples are best? You'll find that red apples are the better choice here. Any of the green varieties are just a little too tart for the flavor we're going for. Save those for your summer vodka and gin infusions and use red apples for flavoring tequila, whiskey, brandy, and rum.
To infuse your tequila, wash the apples and cut them into wedges that will fit into your infusion jar.
Place the sliced apples and cinnamon sticks into the jar, then fill it up with tequila.
Tighten the lid and give it a good shake.
Store in a cool, dark place for five to seven days, shaking it daily to mix up the ingredients. After the fifth day, give your tequila a taste test.
If the flavor is to your liking, remove the apples and cinnamon. You can either strain them out or simply pull each piece out with tongs. Bottle your tequila with a tight seal and store as you would any other liquor.
If you think you'd like a little more flavor, allow the infusion to continue, checking it daily until it reaches your ideal taste. There may be a point where you want to remove the cinnamon and allow the apples to continue infusing to accentuate that flavor.
The beauty of this infusion recipe is that the ingredients are large so they're easy to remove. That means you can customize it as you go. You may want a little more apple or a little more cinnamon and it's all under your control. Have fun, take notes on this batch and tweak the flavor on the next round if needed.
No Time for the Infusion?
The apple and cinnamon flavors really do make this cranberry margarita unique and give the cocktail dimension. If you don't have a week to wait for the tequila infusion, there is a faster way to get those flavors into the drink. The trick is to make an apple-cinnamon simple syrup.
While you could use fresh apples, the quickest way to get a great apple flavor is to split the syrup's water with apple juice or cider. Using this cinnamon syrup recipe, simply use 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup apple juice. It can be ready within a couple hours and you'll be all set to mix up your margarita.
When using the syrup shortcut, you will find it best to adjust the cranberry margarita's sweetener, which is the triple sec. Knock the triple sec pour down to 1/4 ounce, add 1/2 ounce of apple-cinnamon syrup, and ramp up the lime juice to just under 3/4 ounce. This drink should have a nice balance of flavor and you can always adjust it further to suit your taste.
How Strong Is the Cranberry Margarita?
Assuming you use an 80-proof tequila and a 30-proof triple sec, the cranberry margarita is relatively mild. That's due in part to the generous amount of cranberry juice used in the drink. On average, we can say that it weighs in at around 21 percent ABV (42 proof). It's the typical strength of most margaritas.