Blood Orange Will Transform Your Winter Margarita

CORRECTION 11/10/22: A previous version of this article stated chef Dean Fearing works at Shinsei restaurant. Fearing's wife co-owns the restaurant, he does not.

Step aside, whiskey. There's a new cold-weather spirit in town, and its name is "Tequila." (Cue the song.) When temperatures start to drop, mixologists tend to reach for darker spirits like bourbon, cognac, and whiskey. In the food world, produce goes in and out of season, but behind the bar, all spirits stay in-season year-round. Cocktail fans might be hard-pressed to articulate why it's normal to order an Old Fashioned or a Negroni in December but not in July. Yet, the tradition holds. If you don't believe us, try ordering a piña colada the day before Christmas and watch your bartender's reaction.

Luckily, apple cider and bourbon cocktails aren't the only cold-weathered sippers in a seasoned mixologist's repertoire. Chimayó is a spiced apple cider cocktail made not with whiskey but tequila. On that note, tequila fans, keep rejoicing. Today, we're talking about the good old margarita, made with tequila, lime juice, and triple sec. According to VinePair, triple sec (aka curaçao) is an orange liqueur that many mixologists regard as a foundational ingredient to any margarita. Alton Brown's controversial margarita recipe omitted triple sec, and fans were, to say the least, not happy. Unlike standard orange juice, triple sec lends a bitter, slightly sweet orange flavor to a margarita — a quality comparable to the blood orange fruit, which is part of the reason why blood orange will transform your winter margarita. Here's how.

Orange you glad it's (still) margarita season?

If you're looking to winterize your summer cocktails, look no further than the blood orange margarita. Chef Dean Fearing lauds it as "the fall margarita," per Food & Wine, and for good reason. Blood oranges taste like sweeter, less-tart oranges with a hint of raspberry, according to Food Network, and the growing season lasts from December to April, meaning the citrus fruit stays in season through the winter months. The fruit's sweet-yet-tart flavor complements the harsh citrusy profile of lime and curaçao, making for a well-balanced margarita. Blood orange also adds a charming deep red autumnal hue to your cocktail, a welcome departure from the standard summer green.

For a naturally complementary spirit, try an aged reposado tequila, like this one from Milagro with notes of vanilla, caramel, and spice. Or, for more orange flavor, Agavero silver tequila is already infused with orange essence and agave nectar. You might even try making a blood-orange mezcal margarita for even more fall flair using Dos Hombres mezcal, which offers subtle notes of smoky apple. MasterClass recommends garnishing it with slices of jalapeño to turn up the heat when salting the rim. If jalapeños aren't you're thing, try adding some kick with a little Tajín, a finely-ground seasoning made from chili peppers, lime, and sea salt. It's frequently marketed for use with fruit, making it a fitting (proverbial) cherry-on-top for your wintertime blood orange marg.