In My Solitude: A Margarita Remix

February  6, 2014

You'll no longer have to buy a plane ticket to get in on the cocktails at Seattle's Essex: Owners Brandon Pettit and Molly Wizenberg (a.k.a. Orangette) will be sharing their favorite recipes with us, every other week. Drink up, people.

Today: What happens when a margarita grows up and meets new citrus. 

Shop the Story

It recently occurred to us that we haven’t yet talked about tequila, and that’s not right. But winter is citrus season -- and citrus goes very well with tequila -- so we can easily rectify the situation.

Our bar manager Niah has been geeking out lately on margaritas, reading up on their many variations. This week’s cocktail is the lucky upshot, though it’s essentially nothing like a margarita. It starts with blanco tequila (also sold sometimes as silver tequila), but rather than adding the usual lime juice, it veers off the path to grapefruit. And instead of Cointreau, Niah reached for a bottle of Lillet, the wonderful fortified wine with prominent citrus notes, because it goes nicely with grapefruit. And because Lillet also plays well with orgeat, a syrup made from almonds, sugar, and orange water, he threw in some of that, too. (We use B. G. Reynolds Orgeat, which is lovely and complex.) And to counter any possible sweetness, and because we think everything is better with a hint of bitterness, for balance -- he added a few dashes of Peychaud’s bitters.

More: Another drink with a hint of bitterness for balance? This Campari Shandy.

The result is a drink that Brandon named In My Solitude, after the jazz standard of the same name. (He’d been listening to the Ella Fitzgerald version on the day that Niah made up the drink; that’s all the explanation he can offer.) It’s refreshingly citrusy, the way a margarita is, but it’s more complex, more fragrant, a little floral. And it got us wondering: Maybe some of you like to riff on the margarita theme, too? We’d love to hear what you’ve dreamed up.

In My Solitude

Serves 1

Grapefruit wedge, for the glass
Vanilla salt or kosher salt, for the rim of the glass
1 1/2 ounces blanco tequila
3/4 ounce Lillet blanc
3/4 ounce grapefruit
1/4 ounce orgeat
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Grapefruit peel, for garnish

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photo by Molly Wizenberg

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jean
  • srossi
  • Auntie Allyn
    Auntie Allyn
  • Lizthechef
  • mcs3000
Brandon and Molly met because of a mutual interest in food - or, more specifically, when Brandon read Molly's food blog Orangette and sent her an e-mail that included some very effective compliments. The better part of a decade later, they co-own and run the restaurant Delancey and its sibling Essex, in Seattle. Brandon is the chef of both, and when he's not manning the wood-burning oven, he likes to make things from scratch that more sane people would probably buy, like mustard, vinegars, pretzels, and obscurely flavored liqueurs. Molly is the manager / Organizer of All Things at Delancey and Essex, and she is also the author of the New York Times bestseller A Homemade Life and the forthcoming memoir Delancey. They have a young daughter named June, who is excitedly crawling toward the refrigerator as Molly types this sentence, and two dogs named Jack and Alice.


Jean February 15, 2014
Great Cocktail. Im all the way in Africa but Im enjoying making this. Great.
srossi February 14, 2014
This was an excellent cocktail. I had no Peychaud's, so I substituted 2 drops Angostura and 2 drop cardamom bitters. Lovely, and complex!
Auntie A. February 14, 2014
Orgeat (almond syrup) is VERY easy to make, if you can't find it locally. And it's much cheaper to make it yourself. Will be trying this cocktail later today!
Lizthechef February 6, 2014
Lovely - I wonder how this would be with some Meyer lemon subbed for the grapefruit/grapefruit juice?
mcs3000 February 6, 2014
Cookery M. February 6, 2014
I live in Northern Wisconsin and given the frigid weather, I thought a margarita with maple syrup might make me feel like spring will arrive, eventually. Check out the recipe: You can find Tajin at most Mexican grocery stores.
Kenzi W. February 6, 2014
A bar I used to work for makes a play on a margarita with mezcal instead of tequila, lemon, and jack rudy tonic syrup in place of the simple. And it is good.
Sara S. February 6, 2014
Lately I've been mixing fresh pink grapefruit juice, blanco tequila, agave nectar and a slice of lime. It's quite a treat ever since the polar vortex came to town!