New England Margarita

Cranberry, orange, maple, and a little heat combine in a northeastern twist on the Mexican classic.

In honor of National Margarita Day, I wanted to experiment with a margarita composed entirely of New England–produced ingredients.

Yes, I know – very little of that sentence makes sense. One doesn’t typically associate the hearty favors of New England with the bright, breezy notes of a margarita. Plus, tequila is only made in Mexico.

No problemo.

In place of a traditional tequila, I used Papilio Reposado, an oak-aged agave-maple spirit produced by Appalachian Gap Distillery at their solar-powered distillery in Middlebury, Vermont. Made with blue agave nectar imported from Mexico and fermented with maple syrup, it isn’t technically tequila. But it’s close enough for my purposes.


To that I added Bootblack Brand’s Cranberry Jalapeño Lime syrup, made in Rhode Island. The good folks from Bootblack Brand sent me a bottle of this spicy concoction after seeing my recent review of their Ginger Cardamom Lime syrup, and I’ve been itching to try it ever since.


And just to ensure my home state of Massachusetts would be represented, I used a spiced orange liqueur that I made with vodka, brandy, fresh and dried orange peels, clove, allspice, and cardamom.


The result is a margarita that lives in that murky gap between late winter and early spring here in New England.


Appalachian Gap’s non-tequila is a well-rounded agave spirit aged in American oak barrels. The maple notes are fairly subtle – Vermont maple syrup is fermented with the agave nectar as opposed to being added later in the process, so it’s not sweet, and the flavor reveals itself in the finish.


And I continue to be impressed with Bootblack Brand. Their motto of “small batch, huge flavor” is readily apparent in the Cranberry Jalapeño Lime syrup: I took one sip and found it so spicy, I was afraid it would overpower the drink. But in concert with the other ingredients, the heat was pleasant and balanced. The cranberry, of course, contributes another classic New England flavor.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 ounces Appalachian Gap Papilio Reposado agave-maple spirit (don’t call it tequila)
  • 1 ounce lime juice (the only non–New England ingredient)
  • ½ ounce Bootblack Brand Cranberry Jalapeño Lime syrup
  • ½ ounce orange liqueur of your choice (email if you want my recipe)

Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a double rocks glass over ice. Garnish with a lime wheel, if desired. If you want a little more heat, bump up the Bootblack syrup a bit.

Enjoy, and happy National Margarita Day!

Note: I received a complimentary sample of Papilio Reposado last year, and was not asked or expected to write about it. Similarly, Bootblack Brand sent me a complimentary bottle of Cranberry Jalapeño Lime syrup, and did not ask me to write about it. No one from, or associated with, Appalachian Gap Distillery or Bootblack Brand influenced this content.

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