My love of the many faces of the ever-delicious margarita has been well documented on this site, so I’m hardly breaking new ground with this season’s margarita variation. Though I am usually pretty hands-off when it comes to messing with greatness, the margarita’s simplicity does wonders for a variety of flavors and it’s hard to keep myself from trying new combinations. And when I started stumbling across recipes for a margarita starring my favorite fall treat, I could barely restrain myself.
Gifted last year with a giant bag of persimmons from a friend’s tree, my family was in a bind. See, persimmons didn’t appear on our table much—ever—during my childhood, so none of us had any idea what to do with the cute, squat orange fruits. I hit the cookbook shelves and internet for inspiration, and found that you can eat them firm or ripe, plus they lend themselves to a delightful array of preparations: sliced, pureed, baked, mixed in custard, atop a cheesecake, made into jam. Their versatility is rather extraordinary.
Fast forward to this year and I nibble firm, crunchy persimmon slices whenever I can get my hands on them; they never seem to last long enough to ripen for other uses. But I exercised all of my restraint and allowed four to go deep red-orange and soft in anticipation of this Thanksgiving day treat. While I think that this margarita could go well with dinner—the tartness of the lime cutting through all the fatty, buttery goodness—my impulse is to mix these up after the meal when the sweet-tart bite of the drink will whet everyone’s appetite until dessert.
2 oz reposado (gold) tequila
1½ oz persimmon purée (recipe follows)
1 oz lime juice
½ oz Cointreau or triple sec
Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice; shake and strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with cinnamon salt (below). Garnish with a lime wheel and serve.
3-4 non-astringent persimmons, such as Fuyu (the ones that look like orange tomatoes), cut into chunks, caps removed
¼ oz simple syrup
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add a splash of water if the purée is too thick—you want the consistency of baby food. Transfer to a re-sealable container until ready to use. Makes enough purée for six or eight cocktails.
In a small bowl, blend 2 Tbsp coarse salt with ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon.
When I first stumbled across recipes for persimmon margaritas the cinnamon salt gave me pause, but while I was tinkering I found that all you need is a hint of cinnamon—just enough to give the drink a little spice and depth but not so much that you feel like you’re snacking on Red Hots. Overall this drink hits all the high notes of the margarita but mixes it up with the gorgeous color and sublimely autumnal taste of the persimmon. The flavor doesn’t overpower, but it has a lovely earthiness that is vaguely reminiscent of a crisp tart apple. All in all, a beautiful and tasty way to cap the holiday meal.