Margarita de Nopal

I've been reading The Turquoise Ledge and thinking about the desert a lot lately. Succulents, Palm Springs, and now margaritas with nopales. Tequila already makes the margarita a succulent-based cocktail, but add in nopales and you can really taste the desert.

I used this recipe but omitted the mescal because I didn't happen to have any. Remarkably, I did happen to have Hawaiian smoke salt. My brother and sister-in-law gave me a selection of gourmet salts as a gift sometime back from Spice Station which purveys all kinds of amazing salts, spices, sugars, teas and chiles. I don't think I've ever felt so triumphant to have a recipe ingredient — Oh? Hawaiian smoke salt? Of course I have Hawaiian smoke salt. I think it would be fun to pick out some crazy salt flavors to have around, and the smoke salt is really interesting and strongly flavored, but I also think regular coarse salt would work just fine.

While it obviously complements the theme of the drink, it turns out that agave nectar may not be as 'all natural' or 'traditional' as its marketers would have you believe. I thought this article was interesting, but it didn't stop me from using agave nectar in this recipe, because I think a little bit of even totally bad for you stuff is ok in moderation, and this drink can use the sweetening up. Blending the nopal with pineapple juice cuts its tart, earthy flavor and adds a little sweetness, but the agave nectar adds a lot.

I have yet to perfect my technique for creating a perfectly salt-rimmed glass. Any tips? I tried rimming the glass with the agave nectar, but it still wasn't really sticky enough to make the coarse grains of salt stick, so I also tried grinding the smoke salt, and that worked better.

I really enjoyed trying out nopal in this drink. A lot of other recipes I came across extolled the benefits of nopal smoothies, which sound healthy and refreshing, so maybe that's next!