We've partnered with Agave In The Raw to highlight a few of the sweetest ways you can use agave nectar—like the 5 naturally sweet fall cocktails below.
From June to September—when New York City becomes a hot, sticky steam oven—a margarita is my (everyone's?) go-to cocktail. As the rooftop bars and sidewalk patios shut down for the season, I see fewer and fewer margs on the menus, much to my dismay. But there's no reason to say goodbye to the margarita just because summer is over.
This year, I'm introducing my favorite warm weather drink to the cold weather season with seasonal ingredients slipped into the traditional formula—tequila, lime, agave—and I couldn't be happier with the results. Try them all below...you might just like one of my twists even more than the original.
If you plan on making a bunch of fall margaritas, consider making an all-purpose cocktail salt for rimming the glasses, instead of doing it cocktail by cocktail: Combine 2 tablespoons flaky sea salt or cocktail salt with 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoons (a healthy pinch) each cayenne, chili powder, ginger, nutmeg, and anything else that seems like it would be at home in a pumpkin pie. Pinch the salt-spice mixture together with your fingers until the mixture is a uniform color. When you're ready to rim a glass, dump the salt mixture onto a plate. Run a lime wedge or your spent lime shell around the edge of each (empty) glass, and then dip the edge in the salt, moving it around until the rim is well-coated on all sides.
In my opinion, it isn't really autumn until I've had a glass of apple cider. But instead of drinking it straight-up this year, I'm mixing it into my margaritas. Turns out, it's the perfect complement to tequila and a touch of lime juice, and is especially good with reposado tequila (which just means the tequila has been aged in oak barrels for two to 12 months, imparting a light golden color and richer flavor). Because I love spicy cocktails, I thought it couldn't hurt to bring an extra dash of cinnamon and a few pinches of cayenne to the party. The result is an apple-y sweet marg with warm spice notes and a lively kick at the end.
Cooler weather means that fireplaces are finally being put back into commission—I love their warm, smoky smell and that's just what I was thinking about when I created this margarita. Here, smoke comes in the form of mezcal and smoked sea salt, while pear juice (one of my favorite fall fruits) adds a delicate sweetness. It wouldn't be a fruity fall cocktail without a hint of baking spice, so I add a slice of fresh ginger and a drop of aromatic bitters to the shaker before mixing it all up. If you're feeling fancy, a cocktail skewer threaded with a few pieces of candied ginger or a slice of dehydrated pear (freeze-dried works too!) on the rim of the glass makes an elegant garnish.
Grapefruit and tequila is a match made in heaven, as cocktails like the Paloma prove all too well. Here, I'm boosting the cold weather vibes with piney, herbal rosemary muddled with the agave until fragrant. A sprig of fresh rosemary, clapped between your hands to release its scent, is a gorgeous garnish. But if you really want to up the dramatic flair, try carefully lighting one end with a match until it's just smoldering before adding it (the non-smoking end) to your glass. The resulting smoky scent brings major wood cabin vibes.
Like I said before, a classic margarita—tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar—will never steer you wrong. But since it's fall after all, a few people from the Food52 team suggested to give it a little twist by adding one of the season's most popular herbs, sage, to the mix. The easiest way to incorporate sage, they said, would be to simply infuse it in the tequila: Add a few sprigs to a mason jar and fill it with blanco or reposado tequila, shake it up, and let those flavors marinate for one to three days. The final product has an earthy, almost savory aroma that elevates this drink way above your average margarita.
You've probably heard of hibiscus tea, but you may not have known that this beautiful flower also makes a delicious—not to mention, brilliantly hued—addition to a margarita. In this drink, you'll use dried hibiscus flowers to make a bright magenta syrup, which goes right into the shaker, along with agave nectar for sweetness, tequila, and a splash of fresh lime juice. This cocktail wouldn't be complete, however, without a cinnamon-sugar rim to bring those cold-weather flavors full circle.
Pressed from the core of Mexico’s blue agave plant, our partner Agave In The Raw is a delicious, organic sweetening option. With a rich, velvety texture, it's great for all kinds of things, from salads to cocktails and beyond.