Recently I ended up with a surplus of blood oranges and Cara Cara oranges. That’s not a bad thing.

The blood oranges I intentionally bought because they’re one of my favorite fruits and they’re so versatile in cooking, baking, and cocktails.

On the other hand, I ended up with the Cara Cara oranges because I could only find a 3 lb. bag at my grocery store. And I only needed 2 oranges. Oh, well. Time to find some more uses for these pretties.

This intentional and unintentional surplus pushed me to discover some new-to-me recipes for my ongoing foodventure.

And, it led me to the Winter Citrus Margarita which somehow produced a cocktail with a distinctly summer vibe.

What exactly is a blood orange?

Blood oranges sound, well, not so appetizing. They get their name from their dark, almost blood-colored, flesh which is due to the presence of anthocyanins, a family of polyphenol pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits.

Their mottled exterior peels away to reveal a darker flesh holding a flavor that is a cross between a navel orange, a grapefruit, and, wait for it…raspberries.

Yup. Raspberries. It’s an interesting trio that explodes on your tongue. A little sweet. A little tangy. A little tart.

And 100% delicious.

So, what are Cara Cara Oranges???

They’re a cross between the Washington and Brazilian Bahia navel oranges.

And, while they look like a navel orange on the outside, once peeled, you’re treated to a gorgeous pink flesh, similar to grapefruit. Lower in acidity, Cara Cara oranges offer a sweeter flavor than tradition navel oranges.

Perfect for snacks, salads, chicken, and fish, they’re also great in…you guessed it…cocktails!

Simple to Make−Winter Citrus Margarita with Vanilla Bean Salty Sugar

Source: Spices in My DNA

Margaritas are one of the best base cocktails to play with.

And you know we highly recommend playing with your food and drinks. Life is just more fun that way.

But, it seems as though there are as many variations on margaritas as there are days in the year.

Wait…there may be more than that.

So, how do you choose?

Margarita Modifications

The easiest thing is to choose what you like and then make a margarita using those flavors.

Love spicy flavors? Try the Spicy Grapefruit Jalepeno Margarita or the Spicy Jalepeno Blackberry Margarita in this post.

Enjoy fall flavors like cinnamon and apple cider? There’s a Thanksgiving Margarita in this post that captures all those warm flavors.

Prefer a traditional fruit margarita? The Strawberry Margarita in this post can be made either on the rocks or frozen.

Looking for an elevated flavor profile? The Plum-Thyme Margarita in this post hits the mark.

And those flavor pairings are just the tip of the Margarita iceberg. So many flavor combinations. So little time…

Winter Citrus Margarita with Vanilla Bean Salty Sugar ingredients.

Eight things to know about the Winter Citrus Margarita with Vanilla Bean Salty Sugar recipe:

  • This margarita, as stated in the recipe, is easily multiplied. You can fit two drinks into a cocktail shaker, so if you want to double the recipe, go right ahead. No one will blame you.
  • This cocktail takes some prep time to juice the fruit and slice additional fruit for garnish. For one cocktail, you’re looking at juicing a grapefruit, a tangelo/minneola/Cara Cara orange, a grapefruit, and a lime. While it’s not at all hard, it does take a bit of time. Especially if you’re like me and you’re determined to get every drop of juice out of the fruit. You’ll also want slices of each of those fruits for garnish. Again, not at all hard, just takes a bit of added time.
Citrus slices for garnish.
  • Let’s talk vanilla beans. In case you didn’t know, vanilla beans are expensive. For this recipe I got two beans for about $8. So, there’s an investment here, but it does pay off in the flavor of the vanilla bean salty sugar. Whatever you do, if you don’t use all the salty sugar, hold on to it! You can use it on other margaritas. That would be such a waste. It would be great on any fruity margarita. Just don’t throw it away!
  • Let’s talk about harvesting vanilla bean seeds. I say harvesting because it can be work to get these buggers out! You need to get aggressive with the beans to get the seeds out. With a sharp knife, make a slit down the length of the bean. Then pry the bean apart so that it starts to lay flat. Next, take your knife and scrape along the inside of the bean to remove the super fine, flaky seeds.
  • Use your fingers to mix the vanilla bean seeds with the salt and sugar. The seeds can be a bit sticky, so you’re really going to want to go in there with your hands and incorporate them into the salt/sugar mix. Get your fingers in there and rub the beans, salt, and sugar together. You’re trying to incorporate the seeds through the salt/sugar combo rather than having clumps of vanilla seeds.
Harvesting the vanilla bean seeds and incorporated into the salt/sugar mixture.
  • I used Cara Cara oranges. I had a surplus of these so they were my go-to for this recipe. A tangelo or minneola (as indicated in the recipe) would be great. Or try one of the other Mandarin oranges−tangerine, satsuma, or clementine. Mix up your citrus!
  • I used Gran Gala in place of the Grand Marnier. This is what I had on hand, so this is what I used. They’re not identical, but they’re similar enough. You can always substitute in a pinch.
  • Don’t skip the vanilla bean salty sugar rim! It really does add an elevated, complex flavor to an already delicious drink. Plus, you spent all that time harvesting the vanilla bean seeds!

Let us know in the comments what you think of the Winter Citrus Margarita.

And, now that you’re a fan of blood oranges, check out the Sparkling Blood Orange Margarita in this post. You’ll be glad you did!

Juicy Vanilla Pear Margarita