Pomegranate Margarita

Packed with juicy seeds, pomegranates add a punch to happy hour.

Pomegranate Margaritas in clear margarita glasses
Photo:

Antonis Achilleos; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

Active Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
5 mins
Servings:
2 drinks

Back when pomegranate margaritas first hit the restaurant scene (that would be the early 2000s, at least around the South!), me and my fellow Southern Living intern friends would eagerly await every payday, because that meant we could afford to go to our favorite spot for the best drinks in town. Those pomegranate margs were the perfect blend of tart, sweet, and boozy—and even better when they were 2-for-1 during happy hour!

Sadly, that establishment has long-since closed, but thankfully our Test Kitchen is super skilled when it comes to transforming tasty memories into delicious recipes.

How to Make a Pomegranate Margarita

Here’s a sneak peek into the ingredients they used for our classic pomegranate margarita, and why they work so well. 

Pomegranate Juice

Sure, you can buy a box of pomegranates, break them open, and crush the seeds (called arils) to yield the freshest, deeply garnet-hued juice. But honestly, who has time for that besides Martha Stewart’s staff?

Give yourself a break and pick up a bottle of pomegranate juice, usually located in the refrigerated section of the produce department. It’s a little pricey, but the convenience is well worth it.

Silver Tequila

Less expensive than aged tequilas, silver tequila is great for cocktails like these pomegranate margaritas. Although the flavor is not as smooth as aged or gold tequilas (due to a lack of additives, barrel aging, or both), the other cocktail ingredients step in to add balance with acidity and sugar.

Fresh Lime Juice

You can’t have a margarita without lime juice, and fresh is always best. While you may think that pomegranate juice brings enough tartness to the table, adding a secondary acid like lime brings depth to the tartness, yielding a more nuanced drink.

Orange Liqueur

Why have one citrus when you have two? Orange is a softer citrus than lime; in its liqueur form, it also brings some welcome sweetness to this cocktail.

There are two routes to go when it comes to orange liqueur: cheap and expensive. On the cheap spectrum, there’s classic triple sec, distilled with orange peel. On the pricier spectrum, there’s Grand Marnier, which combines triple sec with good brandy, lending the liqueur some nice vanilla and caramel notes, and therefore an overall creamsicle vibe. Either works, but Grand Marnier is extremely nice in this margarita. Cointreau is also lovely—it’s basically a top-shelf triple sec (and is also very delicious).

Pomegranate Liqueur 

Now we’re getting really fancy! Most pomegranate liqueurs are made with a variety of spirits (usually tequila and vodka) and pomegranate juice. It’s a low-powered spirit (around 30-proof), so it’s adding more flavor than punch to this cocktail. If you can’t find it, substitute a mixture of 1 part pomegranate juice and 1 part vodka or tequila.

Don’t Forget the Garnish

By no means are you required to garnish anything in your life. Some days are just too busy; sometimes you don’t have anything on hand. But if you have the time, the inclination, and the ingredients, you should absolutely garnish your drink.

Life’s too short and precious to skip out on the chance to make something extra special, and that’s exactly what a garnish does. A fresh slice of lime, a few scattered pomegranate seeds floating like tiny rubies in your margarita—these are extra reasons to smile, and we can never get enough of those, right?

Editorial contributions by Josh Miller.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup margarita salt

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tsp. simple syrup

  • Ice

  • 3 oz. pomegranate juice

  • 2 oz. silver tequila

  • 1 oz. lime juice

  • 1 oz. orange liqueur

  • 1 oz. pomegranate liqueur

  • 4 tsp. simple syrup

  • Garnishes: pomegranate arils, lime wheel

Directions

  1. Mix margarita salt and granulated sugar on a small plate. Lightly coat rims of 2 margarita glasses evenly with simple syrup; dip glasses in salt mixture to coat rims.

  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine pomegranate juice, silver tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur, pomegranate liqueur, and simple syrup. Shake until very cold and cocktail shaker is frosty.

  3. Fill margarita glasses with ice, and strain mixture into glasses. Garnish each with pomegranate arils and a lime wheel.

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