Margaritas usually elicit thoughts of summer and/or Mexican food, but this versatile drink lends itself well to seasonal variations. We’re highlighting recipes that introduce the fall flavors of apple cider, blood orange and plum thyme to this classic cocktail.

Traditional margaritas consist of tequila, an orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Triple Sec), and lime juice served in a salt-rimmed glass. When the season changes from summer to fall, dive into autumnal flavors and play with the ingredients that warm up this traditional summer drink.

One thing I’ll note up front is that I’m not a huge fan of the straight taste of tequila. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy a margarita, though. I just need to cut back the amount of tequila for my margaritas. More on that later.

My daughter served as assistant and taste tester (yes, she’s over 21) for our Margarita Trio and her input, especially as someone who continually points out that “I’m not going to like that” prior to trying most anything proves valuable. You see, sometimes she actually ends up liking something she swore she wasn’t going to like, and I think that’s crucial when you try new recipes. You have to actually try them. Wink. Wink.

We ended up ranking these margaritas after sampling them. And you might be surprised which one was our unanimous favorite. Keep reading to find out.

In fairness, all of these recipes are Simple to Make. It’s the flavor profiles that determine which options are Easy to Elevate and Made to Impress.

So, out of our margarita comfort zone we go!

Simple to Make — Thanksgiving Margarita

Source: The Soccer Mom Blog

Looking for your post-Turkey Trot reward? A pick-me-up before your relatives arrive? Or just a new take on an old favorite? Then the Thanksgiving Margarita from The Soccer Mom Blog may be the perfect fit for you!

This margarita incorporates two traditionally fall flavors—apple cider and pear—into a simple margarita recipe. The infusion of apple and pear will transport you to pumpkin patches, apple picking farms and back to your childhood.

Five things to know about the Thanksgiving Margarita recipe:

  • The serving size for the recipe is 1 drink. If you’re planning to serve in a large batch, you’ll need to do some simple math. Instead of using a cocktail shaker, combine all the ingredients in a blender and gently mix.
  • I had a hard time finding pear juice. My usual haunts didn’t have it and I finally found it at Sprouts.
  • If you’re a fan of apple cider, you’ll probably enjoy this margarita. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of apple cider and I didn’t love this variation.
  • I found this to be very tequila forward. Next time I would probably pour about ¾ of the cocktail into my glass and then finish it with club soda to cut the strong tequila flavor.
  • The cinnamon stick is a pretty expensive garnish, so if you’re on a budget and you or your guests don’t mind, you can always skip the cinnamon stick.

If you’re timid about trying new flavors but you enjoy apple cider and pear, this margarita should be right up your alley.

Easy to Elevate — Sparkling Blood Orange Margarita

Source: Best of Life Mag

I’m a huge fan of blood orange and, shockingly, my daughter said, “I know I’m not going to like that. I don’t like blood orange.”

Had she ever tasted blood orange, you ask? No. No, she hadn’t, but it falls into the orange category (well, the fruit category to be honest) and she’s just not a fan.

On to making Best of Life Mag’s Sparkling Blood Orange Margarita!

Again, this is a simple preparation with the hardest part (for me) being to remember to leave enough room in the glass for the club soda.

Adding freshly squeezed blood orange juice along with the freshly squeezed lime juice ups the citrus content and makes this a highly refreshing drinky-drink.

Four things to know about the Sparkling Blood Orange Margarita recipe:

  • The serving size for this recipe is 2 drinks. If you want to make a larger batch, multiply accordingly.
  • The recipe calls for 3 oz blood orange juice squeezed from about four oranges. I easily got more than 3 oz of juice from one fairly large blood orange, so if you’re blood oranges are large, you may not need as many as the recipe calls for. What did I do with the leftover blood orange juice? I added to a mojito later in the week and it was delicious.
  • I had trouble finding blood oranges. My grocery store typically stocks them, but they were out so I found some at Sprouts.
  • This may be the prettiest margarita I’ve ever made. The blood orange color is just gorgeous. Your guests will be drawn to this just because it’s so pretty.

The Sparkling Blood Orange Margarita makes a simple, elevated addition to your margarita recipe book.

Made to Impress — Plum-Thyme Margarita

Source: Burrata and Bubbles

Why are you adding herbs to my margarita, you ask? Because the combination of plum and thyme is divine!

This Plum-Thyme Margarita from Burrata and Bubbles is our Made to Impress recipe because plum-thyme is an elevated flavor profile and this margarita requires the additional step of making a plum-thyme simple syrup to achieve the final flavor. Trust me, it’s worth it.

If you’ve never made a simple syrup, don’t worry. Right there in the title it tells you it’s simple. And it is.

Simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil to dissolve the sugar into the water. The great part about simple syrup is that you can infuse flavors into it to elevate your cocktails or recipes. Last summer I made a rhubarb simple syrup for margaritas I was serving at book club and they were a giant hit.

You can store simple syrup for up to a week at room temperature and for up to a month in the refrigerator.

Four things to know about the Plum-Thyme Margarita recipe:

  • The serving size for this recipe is 1 drink. You can make this in batches, but keep reading the bullets or you’ll end up with a vat of simple syrup.
  • Speaking of the simple syrup, I was very skeptical when the recipe indicates a yield of 1 drink, but the simple syrup recipe calls for 1 C. water and 1 C. sugar. That set off immediate alarm bells for me that this was going to be way too much simple syrup. The thought could be that if you’re making simple syrup, you may as well make extra. While that’s my normal approach, if you really are only making a few drinks and you don’t want leftover simple syrup, you’ll want to cut the proportions back to ½ C. water and ½ C. sugar and maybe use two plums instead of four. You do need at least that much liquid to steep the plums and thyme.
  • The plum-thyme simple syrup has a very distinctive smell when cooking, but the end product after straining offers a mellow flavor. It marries the sweetness of the plums with the earthy, floral, peppery flavor of the thyme.
  • You can use the leftover simple syrup for other drinks. Add it to a vodka tonic or a mojito or spruce up your next glass of champagne with plum-thyme simple syrup.

If you want to seriously impress your family and friends, try this lovely Plum-Thyme Margarita.

Ranking the Ritas

So, I said we ranked these margaritas. We did. We ranked them before and after we tasted them. The before rankings reflect what we thought we would like best based on the ingredients.

My pre-sampling ranking: 1. Sparkling Blood Orange Margarita; 2. Plum-Thyme Margarita; 3. Thanksgiving Margarita (sorry, just not an apple cider fan).

My daughter’s pre-sampling ranking: 1. Thanksgiving Margarita; Neither of the other two. Remember, she frequently doesn’t like things she’s never tried.

What did we think after sampling all three? Our ranking was surprisingly unanimous:

  1. Plum-Thyme Margarita
  2. Sparkling Blood Orange Margarita
  3. Thanksgiving Margarita

How will you rank them?