Words and photos: Stephanie Breijo
Though it’s Cinco de Mayo at El Centro D.F. every day, there’s no time like the not-too-distant May 5th to instill in all of us a sense of duty–nay, necessity–to imbibe in some seriously springtime Mexican cocktails. Luckily for us, Richard Sandoval’s spots on 14th Street and in Georgetown offer up an array of infused tequilas and margaritas and, even luckier, they’re sharing the recipe for your own at-home pleasure.
The Prickly Pear Margarita stays firmly rooted on El Centro’s menu year-round but it’s a light and fruity cocktail that’s smooth and perfect for your Cinco de Mayo drinking; because it uses 100-percent Blue Agave tequila, you’ll be ingesting zero refined sugar and zero caramel, which you’d find in its yellow tequila brethren. This means less hangovers, which means more worry-free drinking.
And because the margarita’s Blue Agave tequila comes straight from the plant, it’s much smoother and keeps the flavor in the cactus family when combined with fresh prickly pear purée.
“We even use a liquor which is actually made here in D.C.,” manager Drew Darneille tells me. “To have flavored liquor that’s from here is pretty cool.”
Crafting a drink made with fruit from the cactus plant, Agave’s cousin, and pairing it with local ingredients is, in fact, cool, as is the fact that this is closer to a traditional margarita than most other Mexican-inspired drinks in the United States. While you’ll quickly find a strawberry margarita on a menu just about anywhere, this is Mexico’s own, traditional version of the Americanized cocktail.
Because cactus is much more prevalent throughout the country, you’d more likely sit down to a prickly pear cocktail than a strawberry margarita, though the flavor profile is somewhat similar to strawberry with a sweet, light fruit base but less tart and less sugary, evened out further by brightness from fresh lime.
Want to try your own? We’ve got the recipe for your drinking enjoyment:
- 1.5oz Sauza Blue Blanco
- 1oz Don Ciccio & Figli Fico d’ India
- 1oz Prickly Pear Puree
- 2oz House Made Sour
- Fresh Lime
- One Splash Agave Nectar
1. Skin prickly pear cactus, and place in blender with one splash of Agave nectar.
2. Squeeze one half of a fresh lime into a glass.
3. Add tequila, prickly pear puree, sour mix, and prickly pear liquor.
4. Add ice and drink to a shaker, shake.
5. Rim glass with salt.
6. Add shaken margarita and garnish with lime.