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January 23, 2013

Pitcher perfect

Meyer lemon margaritas bring zest to a party

I long ago fell in love with the clean, crisp, sweet taste of Meyer lemons. And recently, Mexican foods guru Rick Bayless reminded me why.

The lemon (named for Frank Meyer, who discovered them over 100 years ago) is a cross between a lemon and possibly some variety of orange. Thin-skinned, they often mature to a yellow-orange color and are slightly less acidic than common lemons. I like that because the lower acid makes it so much easier to appreciate the vibrant taste of these lemons.

And I’m particularly fond of using them in drinks. That’s just one reason I’ve fallen in love with Bayless’ new cookbook, “Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks.” In it, he has a recipe for Meyer lemon margaritas that uses tequila that has been infused with the zest of the lemons for four days.

This summer, I experimented with infusing tequila with a split vanilla bean and rich roasted coffee, but I never considered citrus. This book was the perfect excuse to try more infusing.

When I read through the recipe, I realized that it was natural to use citrus to infuse tequila, and how special the Meyer lemon zest would make it and the margaritas. Thoughts of limoncello with a Mexican twist immediately came to mind. I love having the infused tequila on hand, which makes masterful margaritas, of course. But it’s also delicious all on its own to be enjoyed as sipping tequila.

Besides the creative recipes, the best part of this cookbook is that Bayless provides two recipes for every margarita — a single-serve cocktail and a pitcher version. And I thought the latter would be just perfect to get a party going. Not only is it a fun drink, but the tangy lemon flavor is perfect for cutting through all the rich, heavy comfort foods we usually eat this time of year.

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