Every winter I wait with anticipation for Cara Cara oranges. It’s a variety we don’t grow, but thankfully they can be harvested locally at Trader Joe’s. I find the beautiful pink color and sweetness of this navel orange irresistible. I use them in both sweet or savory dishes — tucked in an arugula salad with beets, pecans and goat cheese, sliced into wedges for lunch boxes or make some quick marmalade to spread on morning toast.
Cara Cara oranges also happen to make killer cocktails. My plan for January was a “clean” month — no drinking, no carb loading, just lots of fresh, clean food. That was the plan until the last few of these citrus beauties were eyeing me from the bowl on the counter.
The temptation to make a cocktail was too much — what if I matched the sweetness of the Cara Cara oranges with lime to make a margarita void of simple syrup? Could I create a delicious “clean” cocktail? Please, let me enjoy my delusions!
This is how I fell completely off the wagon and landed in a pitcher of Cara Cara Margaritas. Let me tell you, it was worth every sinful sip. I just let that wagon go on down the road and promised to welcome it again next year — post Cara Cara season.
Cara Cara Margarita
Makes two short cocktails
Note: We have kumquats growing in our yard and they do add a wonderful complexity to this drink. However, if you can’t track down some kumquats no worries, this will still be delicious!
2 Cara Cara oranges, juiced
1 large and very juicy lime, juiced
3 ounces tequila blanco
1 ounce orange liqueur
Sea salt for the rim
Lime cut into wedges
4 kumquats, sliced with seeds removed
Fill a large shaker with ice and add orange and lime juice, the tequila and the liqueur. Shake it off — I usually count to 8 in my head.
Kiss the rim of two short glasses with lime and dip into the sea salt. Fill glasses with ice and pour in the shaker mixture. Garnish with sliced kumquat and serve. Cheers!