This adaption, based on the Queen of sour cocktails, the Margarita, provides the perfect refreshment for a spring or summer get together. By replacing the triple sec found in a traditional Margarita recipe with orange bitters, we retain the orange flavor while drying the cocktail a bit. This allows the sweetness of the raspberry to take center stage. When experimenting with this cocktail, we found strict adherence to a traditional Margarita recipe using triple sec generally led to a cocktail overwhelmed with sweetness. Furthermore, early season raspberries feature a tart edge with strong acidity that plays nicely in this cocktail. That said, some of our taste testers preferred the addition of a 1/4 to a 1/2 ounce of triple sec for a sweeter drink, particularly with early season berries. Finally, the thyme ties tequila’s spicy earthiness together with the rest of the cocktail while providing a fantastic herbal nose.
On a follow-up tasting later in the year, a significant minority of tasters found the late-season berries lacking in acidity with a general sense “that took something away from this drink,” and a feeling that “the sour no longer punched through.” Overall though, most of our reviewers found the drink remained the same, with their corresponding notes and ratings nearly identical to the earlier tasting. If you fall into the category of those looking for the extra tart punch, seek out an older variety of raspberry such as a Willamette, which originally gave raspberries their tart reputation.
Technique: Making the Raspberry Thyme Margarita
When making this drink, take time to muddle the raspberries into a jam-like consistency. This remains one of the few cocktails where we prefer a bit more muddling. With the raspberries muddled, we return to our less is more muddling mantra. Now add a few thyme sprigs and give them just a quick hit to release the aromas, flavors, and oils. Next, add the remaining ingredients to your mixing tin and fill your serving glass with crushed ice. Finally, add ice to your mixing tin, proceed with a hard shake, double strain the drink into your serving glass, and garnish.
The Raspberry Thyme Margarita remains a typical drink from the sour family (liquor, citrus, and sweetener). We opted to serve this version in a Margarita glass primarily because of the crushed ice and also because of the glass’s width, which provides more room for an extensive garnish. However, one of our testers astutely noted, “this would be kick-ass in a Julep Cup,” drawing raves and enthusiastic concurrence from our group.
The Raspberry Thyme Margarita makes a perfect focal point for a Cinco de Mayo party, and its pinkish-orange color creates a perfect backdrop for a creative garnish to enhance the visual appeal to truly elevate the drink. Take time to experiment with varying presentations of the drink’s elements of lime, raspberries, and thyme to create your perfect offering and, of course, share them with us. Keep in mind that incorporating the thyme into your garnish brings an amazing level of visual sophistication to the Raspberry Thyme Margarita while boasting an already amazing aroma as you settle in for your first sip.
We made this cocktail with Agave Blanco Tequila, which remains, by law, the truest expression of a master distiller’s craft, with no additives allowed. Aged varietals of tequila provide various taste nuances imparted by the barrels or the barrel’s predecessor spirits, which slightly alter the color and taste of the recipe as presented. Agave maturity also impacts flavor with more mature agave producing sweeter spirits. Further, tequila flavors vary tremendously by area with an enormous amount of factors like altitude and climate affecting the agave crop. Local microbiology, microclimates, the fermentation base, and the distillation process also alter the end tequila product. For example, generally speaking (not always), the clay soil highlands (Los Altos) produce sweeter and more fruity flavors while the lowlands (Amatitan and Tequila Valley) feature more earthy, herbal flavors.
We discuss the tequila differences for those that truly like to geek out, which we, of course, encourage. When shopping for your tequila, however, keep in mind that many professional tasters note few or subtle differences between the two regions, with both regions offering fruity tequilas and with the majority of experts not preferring one region over the other. In fact, production methods, like using a tahona versus a modern roller mill to crush the agave influences taste scoring more than regional influences, suggesting that how one makes tequila proves at least as important as location, if not more.
At the very least, refrain from judging a tequila simply on its manufacturing location. For instance, in many tequilas, manufacturers source agave from a variety of locations. Knowing that a variety of factors impact tequila flavor, how it tastes to you remains the most important factor, regardless of any “rules.” Finally, in a cocktail like the Raspberry Thyme Margarita, these nuances remain extremely difficult to pick up for even the most experienced palates.
As discussed earlier, some individuals prefer the addition of triple sec to the recipe we present. In fact, a quick internet search reveals several recipes incorporating various triple secs. In the end, as always, take our recipe merely as a guide and adjust according to your preferences.
Please share your ideal adjustments and versions in the comments.
Raspberry Thyme Margarita
- Margarita glass
- Shaker/mixing tin
- Japanese jigger
- Fine mesh strainer
- Ice crusher
- 3 raspberries
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 2 oz. Jose Cuervo Blue Agave Silver Tequila
- ¾ oz. lime juice
- ½ oz. agave syrup
- 1 dash orange bitters
- crushed ice
- 4 raspberries
- 1 lime wedge
- a few thyme sprigs
- In a mixing tin, muddle three raspberries until the consistency appears like jam. Add three thyme sprigs to the muddled berries and give them a short gentle muddle.
- Pour two ounces of tequila, ¾ of an ounce of lime juice, ½ of an ounce of agave syrup and one dash of orange bitters to the mixing tin.
- Top the margarita glass with crushed ice.
- Fill the mixing tin with ice and shake.
- Use a fine strainer to strain the cocktail.