Cocktail of the Month: Margarita Granada at Harvest on River

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A decorated Southwestern bartender has created an inventive take of one of the world’s most popular drinks



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The Margarita Granada.

May might be a month full of flowers, but it’s often also full of Margaritas.

Donna Francis—reigning Bacardi Legacy Southwest Regional Winner 2017, Regional Finalist for Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender 2016, and Southern Arizona Finalist for Gentleman Jack—serves an creative version of the seventh-most ordered cocktail in the world at Harvest on River in Tucson. Here she shares the story behind its creation and her recipe for fellow adventurous mixologists:

The Daily Meal: What is the story behind this inventive drink?
Donna Francis: I am constantly jotting down flavors, colors, and ideas to explore. Everyone’s done a pomegranate margarita. Why? Because they’re delicious! But I wanted to turn it up a notch, give it a new twist. And pomegranates and dates were two of the ingredients I included on my idea board, so the Granada, like so many of my cocktail ideas, was born in a dream during a nap in the sunshine.

The pomegranate juice offers a bright tartness and fun color, as compared to the sweet, creamy medjool dates. I started experimenting with the dates first and finally settled on a simple purée but it just wasn’t playing nicely with the pomegranate juice. So, I went back to square one and just put them both in the Vitamix and let it run. After a handful of ratio mishaps, I got it! And it's delicious! Delicious doesn’t always have to be complex—sometimes it's simply figuring out a context to put together a handful of flavors you love.

There are endless varieties of the Margarita found all over the globe--which has been your absolute favorite thus far? Delicious doesn’t always have to be complex—sometimes it's simply figuring out a context to put together a handful of flavors you love.
Absolute favorite Margarita in my life, thus far…The fresh juices always get me. I love the natural pairing of ripe fruit with a great tequila, just add a little spice and I’m in love. I do remember having a fresh dragon fruit juice margarita with a spicy rim on a beach far, far away. The bartender blended a local mix of spices for the rim, and it was salty, spicy, sweet, packed with flavor, but didn’t overwhelm the rest of the flavors in the Margarita.

If you could choose, what would be your last drink and why?
This is so macabre and fun! My last cocktail… either a classic daiquiri as it’s timeless, refreshing, bright, and ending on a high note. Or, so cliché but, go with a favorite glass of whiskey. It’s brooding and dark, yet with so much time and love put into every bottle. Most of my favorite cocktails, spirits, and wines also have memories and stories attached to them, so it’s very difficult to pick just one!

Medjool Date Purée
1 cup Pom pomegranate juice
8 medium-sized pitted medjool dates
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Blend on low for 30-45 seconds to start breaking up the dates. Slowly increase blender speed until on med-high, leave at med-high for 1 minute until the puree is loose and smooth. Shake to serve. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

Margarita Granada
2 oz. Tequila Cazadores Añejo
1 oz. triple sec
1.5 oz. pomegranate-medjool date purée
Squeeze of fresh lime juice

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Serve on the rocks with a fine sea salt rim. Garnish with a sliced fresh date and lime wedge