In most places, the beginning of winter marks the end of fresh fruit and vegetables. Not in Marana.
Every spring, orange blossoms adorn our trees. The bees do their thing, and soon, those petals drop away. In their place grow fat, fragrant green spheres. All year we wait, dreaming of the sweet tangerines, sour lemons, and tangy kumquats ahead. Just as we’re festooning our Christmas trees with colorful ornaments, the fruit trees outside are decorating themselves. Vibrant yellows and oranges suddenly explode from their branches. The canopies sag, heavy with fruit. There’s so much citrus, it’s hard to know what to do with it all. In Marana, we’ve found the perfect purpose.
What, exactly, are all those flavors?
No Cuervo mix here. No tasteless lime, shipped from halfway across the world. The flavors in our margarita glass were grown right in our own backyard. Pick a few limes, maybe a lemon if you’re feeling adventurous, slice ‘em, juice ‘em, and you’re well on your way to enjoying the perfect Arizona refreshment.
There are lots of origin stories for the classic cocktail, and almost all of them start with our friends south of the border. That should probably be no surprise, since tequila, arguably the most important ingredient, is made from the blue agave that’s all around us in this beautiful Sonoran Desert.
After the tequila, you’ve got a couple choices. Purists demand that you’ve got to use triple sec, and while there’s no arguing with the classic liqueur, we’ve also seen some other fun twists on the old recipe. The Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain likes to use Grand Marnier, a French, orange-flavored cognac liqueur.
You’re two-thirds of the way there, and we’ve saved the best for last. The fruit! Oh, the fruit! Are you a lime-only margarita drinker? That’s fine, but we think you’re missing out. Our citrus groves are bursting with punchy zest, and some of these babies pack some real pucker power. Ever try a margarita made with a clementine? Oh my darling, have we got a treat for you! Squeeze a couple of these mini delights into your glass and you’ll reach new heights of margarita bliss.
I don’t want to make one, I just want to drink one! Where can I sip this tasty delight?
Recently, we caught up with Michael Bell, Assistant Director of Food and Beverage at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, who let us in on some trade secrets. One of his favorite ingredients: nitrous gas infused with the rind of a freshly picked orange. The oils from fruit’s skin create a texture and color unlike any you’ve ever seen in a margarita—just watching him ply his craft is a mouth-watering experience. Oh no, do you not have a nitrogen infuser at home? Guess you’ll have to head up to The Ritz for the Grove cocktail!
With so many different ingredient combinations, it’s a good thing we’ve got mixologists all over town coming up with their own formulas. Cayton’s Burger Bistro has created an alternative you can only find in these desert environs: the prickly pear margarita. With a dash of Cointreau and a base of Patron Tequila, you’ve got the perfect complement for one of their signature, gourmet burgers.
Just down the hill from Cayton’s and the Ritz is a quiet wine bar that we locals love, but don’t let the word get out. Lo Esencial has been serving up fine food and delicious wines for some time, but those in the know are well aware that their margaritas are also well worth a try. They’re so good, they’ve got three different varieties—the Basic, the Cadillac, and the Pomerita. That’s right, we’ll try anything in our ‘ritas at least once, including pomegranate. We weren’t sure whether we liked the pomerita the first time, so we had to try a second one. After that, we still weren’t sure, so we had to have a third. After that, we had to call an Uber.
So it turns out that no one’s got the perfect margarita recipe. So many kinds of tequila, and we haven’t even talked about Mezcal yet! Liqueurs for days! Lemons, limes, oranges, clementines, tangerines, grapefruit! Okay, even we think that last one’s a little weird. It looks like the only way to know what’s best is to try them all. Fortunately, in Marana, you can! Book a stay and come on out to our little corner of desert paradise and discover your own Maranarita! Watch it!