We are super excited to introduce our newest food +entertaining contributor Camille Wynn who will share some amazing food + cocktail features here on GWS! Today’s feature is perfect to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a bridal shower – or for any upcoming summer parties! Take it away Camille…
My husband Alex and I love to entertain in our backyard here in Brooklyn. We are especially fond of a fun Cinco de Mayo celebration with friends and a chance to enjoy margaritas and Mexican food as we grew up in southern California. A DIY Margarita Bar is our go-to for such an occasion, or any celebration if we’re being honest! When the weather starts to heat up this time of year, we gravitate towards recipes that take less time in the kitchen giving us as much time outside with our friends as possible enjoying good company and good food. Although we want something that doesn’t require too much time or cooking, we still want it to look beautiful and taste delicious. This margarita bar is exactly that. It’s beautiful, delicious,and incredibly easy to throw together for a Cinco de Mayo celebration, big or small! The best part is how impressive and festive this customizable margarita station looks while being completely approachable for even the most novice cook or entertainer. No matter how comfortable you are in the kitchen or throwing parties, the less time spent in the kitchen and more time spent with your guests – the better!
To start, pick 3 to 5 fruits as your margarita bar flavors. I chose strawberries, blood oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, and lime as there were in season and sounded like a delicious variety to serve! Next, find 3 to 5 herbs or spices to complement the fruit you’ll be juicing. These are an easy trick to taking your margarita bar to the next level! They will make the set up look extra beautiful and enhance your drinks with little effort. We chose basil, mint, rosemary for our herbs and jalepeno and black pepper for some options with an extra kick! Other great options are cilantro, parsley, cucumber, tarragon, vanilla beans, or cinnamon (especially with citrus or pineapple).
The only real step you have to do is making freshly squeezed juice! We recommend about 3 oz of juice per margarita, and planning on 2-3 drinks per person. And any leftover juice will be delicious the next morning! For the mango, strawberries, or any other fruit that would make a thicker juice, wash and slice them up and throw them in with some freshly squeezed lime juice in a blender. If it’s still a little thicker than you want, add lime juice until it reaches your desired consistency. This time I added above 2 tablespoons of agave into the blender with the strawberry lime juice mixture as it needed a little extra sweetness for my taste. If you don’t have a juicer or time to hand squeeze your juices, just grab a few high quality fresh squeezed juices from your local grocery store or farmer’s market. Your guests will still have just as much fun with the DIY margarita bar whether you juice everything yourself or pour your favorite fresh juices into a few pretty pitchers!
Now it’s time to have some fun and get creative with your set up! Right before your guests arrive, pour your chilled juices into pretty pitchers (we love these beaker pitchers from CB2), wash and cut up your fresh herbs and any other extra ingredients like the jalepeno. We put these directly into the fresh juices to create our own flavor combos and give the flavors a little extra time to infuse. We decided on blood orange rosemary, grapefruit black pepper, mango mint, strawberry basil, and jalepeno lime. If you want to let your guests completely DIY their own flavor combinations, leave them out in separate bowls and invite your guests to mix and match their favorite flavor combos!
Finally we set out some salt and some sugar for guests to rim their glasses if they wanted, some fresh fruit and linens for effortless and festive decor, and bottles of tequila, mezcal, and cointreau. Grand Marnier and a bottle of champagne are great options too! I recommend 2-3 oz of alcohol with 3 oz of juice. My favorite combination was a sugar and salt rim, 1.5 oz of tequila, 1.5 oz cointreau, and 3 oz of blood orange with a few sprigs of rosemary. Yum!
DIY Seasonal Margarita Bar
• 3-5 freshly squeezed juices (see tip below for thinning out thicker juices like strawberry or mango in a blender with fresh lime juice)
• 3-5 fresh handfuls of herbs, chopped vegetables like cucumbers and jalepenos, or ground spices to infuse the fresh juice
• Bottles of tequila, mezcal, orange liqueur (cointreau or Grand Marnier), and/or Champagne
• Salt and/or sugar
1. Juice all your fresh fruits if you didn’t buy freshly squeezed juice. If you’re using strawberries, mangoes, or anything else that might be hard to juice or make a thicker juice, add squeeze in the juice of a few limes in with the sliced fruit to a blender and combine. Add more lime juice until desired consistency is reached.
2. Wash and prep any extra flavoring ingredients – wash any fresh herbs, wash and chop vegetables like jalapeños or cucumbers, and grind or prep any spices like black pepper.
3. Wash and slice limes or any fresh fruit into wedges to decorate the rim of the glass
4. Put salt and/or sugar into small pinch bowls or small dessert plates to rim glasses. Running a lime wedge along the rim of the glass right before will help the salt or sugar stick to the glass.
5. Set out your chilled juices, choice of alcohol, and fresh ingredients for your guests to build their own margaritas! My preferred party proportions to keep things easy is 3 oz of alcohol and 3 oz of freshly squeezed infused juice or one part alcohol to one part fresh juice.
The best part of this beautiful DIY Margarita bar is you don’t really need to follow any set recipe! Just pick up some of your favorite fruits in season or freshly squeezed juices and fresh herbs, spices, or veggies to add some extra interest and depth to your margarita combos, and leave the rest to your guests! Who will love to create their own dream margarita combos. Even if your husband loves mezcal and limes, but your best friend adores grapefruit and cointreau – everyone will love your seasonal DIY Margarita Bar! Giving you less stress and prep time, and more time to enjoy your Cinco de Mayo festivities!