Blood Orange Margaritas

I often wonder at the phenomenon of the “celebrity chef”– is it possible to turn your love of food into a national business yet retain the integrity of your kitchen? On my last trip to Frontera Grill in Chicago, while the food was good enough, there was a pre-packaged, rote sort of feel to the place- as if everyone, including the diners were just going through the motions. The restaurant felt devoid of joy and purpose. Maybe this is inevitable when the business empire becomes the front-runner. Having said that, I love the Rick Bayless cookbooks- especially the early ones; there is a palpable sense of his love for the food and culture; the care with which he writes the recipes, the attention to detail and the exaltation of Mexican cuisine is extraordinary. The blood orange margarita recipe comes from his book Fiesta At Rick’s. Since blood oranges have a woefully short season, I just bought 15 lbs of blood oranges yesterday and plan to squeeze and freeze so I can bust it out whenever I’m in the mood. Forgive my excessive wordiness on this New Year’s Day!

3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup 100% agave silver tequila (Rick recommends Tres Generaciones and El Milagro- I used Kirkland brand with delicious and much less expensive results)
1/2 cup Cointreau
2 cups fresh blood orange juice

Dissolve the sugar in the water over low heat; let this cool completely. Stir everything together in a pitcher and chill at least one hour. Salt the rims of the glasses if you like salt (and I recommend it for these); fill a cocktail shaker about 3/4 full with ice and add some of the margarita mix. Shake for 15 seconds so that it becomes well-chilled and strain into the salted cocktail glasses. These are SOOOO good.

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