- In a cocktail shaker, combine the lime juice, prickly pear syrup, tequila, and ice.
- Shake to chill.
- Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
- Garnish with the lime or cucumber wheel.
Prickly pear is very sweet, so this cocktail will be sweeter than the classic margarita. Making a few simple changes and substitutions can cut the sweetness.
- Increase lime juice to 1 ounce.
- Muddle a few slices of cucumber with the prickly pear syrup before you add the rest of the ingredients to the cocktail shaker.
- Muddle a few slices of fresh jalapeño. The heat will help to balance the sweetness of the prickly pear and add complexity.
- If you have actual prickly pear fruit, muddle a few chunks of the flesh with ½ ounce of orange liqueur. Then, add ¾ ounce fresh lime juice and 1½ ounces tequila. Shake with ice and strain over fresh ice.
A traditional lime wheel or wedge is a lovely garnish for this delicately colored drink, but you can try any of the following:
- Garnish with a small, nopales paddle with the spines removed.
- A hibiscus flower adds a pretty element to this drink.
- Salt or sugar the rim (or combine sugar and salt), or rim the glass with tajin for a bit of heat.
About the Prickly Pear Margarita
You'll find the prickly pear margarita called different things: nopale margarita, cactus fruit margarita, or cactus margarita to name a few. Prickly pears are the edible fruit of the oputina, a type of cactus (nopales cactus). They are also called Barbary fig, mission cactus, and cactus pear, and they grow throughout much of the North America, particularly in the Southwestern United States and Mexico.
The fruits are delicious; they are sweet and flavorful, tasting vaguely like watermelon combined with honey. The resulting margarita is a treat for your senses--it's a balance of sweet and tart that will make your palate dance. Once you've had one, you'll surely want another and another.
Wet Your Whistle With a Cactus Thistle
When prickly pears grow atop the cactus pads of the oputina, they almost look like thistles (they aren't--they're fruits). Fortunately, someone at some point in history had the presence of mind to pluck those beautiful fruits from their spiny nest to taste what was inside. It probably didn't take long for that intrepid, wise person to add some tequila and lime to make the tasty fruit sing. Don't let their efforts go to waste. Mix up a desert cactus margarita for a taste that's anything but prickly.