Celebrate June with this recipe for a top-shelf watermelon margarita

June starts tomorrow, ushering in the summer season for barbecuing, bobbing around in the pool on a raft and sipping boat drinks, preferably made with some sort of tropical fruit.

And tequila, of course: Few things go better with sunshine and patios than lime and tequila. We've poured down more than our fair share of margaritas over the years (including this year's Best House Margarita, at Pinche Taqueria), and we've learned a number of secrets to making great ones. A few of our best tips:

1. Use your favorite tequila, even if it's top-shelf alcohol. A good triple sec also goes a long, long way (and skip the Cointreau).

2. Frozen margaritas benefit immensely from a healthy splash of cheap, Mexican lager, poured straight into the blender with the rest of your ingredients.

3. A combination of fresh lemon and lime juices keeps the drink from being too tart (simple syrup or agave helps here, too).

4. The classic margarita recipe calls for four parts tequila, one part triple sec, one part lime. We prefer two parts tequila, one part triple sec, one part lime.

5. No triple sec on hand? One of the best margaritas we've ever had was the Tommy's Margarita, named for the San Francisco restaurant that invented it: two parts tequila, one part lemon or lime juice, one part simple syrup.

Once we mastered our favorite version of the classic, though, we began searching for ways to modify this tequila drink. And over Memorial Day, we mixed up a winner...with watermelon, which almost makes this marg qualify as a boat drink. It's certainly worthy of an umbrella.


1.5 ounces ARTA reposado tequila .75 ounce Luxardo Triplum triple sec .5 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice .25 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice Splash of freshly juiced watermelon


Rim a rocks glass with salt (if you like that sort of thing) and fill it with ice. Combine the tequila, triple sec, lime juice and lemon juice in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into rocks glass. Finish with the splash of watermelon juice and garnish with a lime and small watermelon wedge.

No juicer? Muddle a couple of chunks in the bottom of the glass before pouring the margarita over the top. And you can skip the watermelon juice entirely in round two; it's still a hell of a margarita.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk