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La Sandía

Drink a little bit of summer with this fresh take of a classic from Antonia Helios.

Consider the margarita.

You’re probably wondering why you should consider it when you can just drink it. Though how do you know that what you have in mind actually is a margarita? As far as I can tell, there are no hard and fast rules for designating something as a margarita. You can add tequila to anything (bathwater?) and call it a margarita as long as you include "-rita" in the title. (Bathtubrita? Bathorita? Dirty Rita?) I mean by the time you get to sour patch candy margaritas or margarita jello shots, there's not much left for an adult to get excited about. But I've had one or two good margaritas in my day, and it seemed to me that it should be possible to restore some dignity to the old gal one sip at a time.

As is the case with any classic drink, there are rules to making a good margarita. I resolved to master those rules, and then I decided to break them. The original recipe, a simple combination of tequila, triple sec and lime juice, worked just fine. (As long as you use a decent tequila blanco and Cointreau as the triple sec, you can't go wrong.) That settled, it was time to tempt fate. I broke out the chemistry set -- I kid you not -- and eventually came up with La Sandía, a margarita in all but name. (Sandía is how one says "watermelon" en español.)

Here at Helios Labs™, the drinks undergo rigorous testing whenever friends and neighbors are available, which is how I realized that many of my acquaintances do not enjoy the taste of tequila, despite protestations to the contrary. Extrapolating from this discovery, I surmised that this is probably how chain restaurant margaritas became both ubiquitous and reviled. If your customers don't really like tequila, then they are hardly going to complain if their drinks are watered down till it’s barely possible to detect a hint of alcohol around the edges. No judgement here, though. The taste buds want what they want, and if I owned a bar, I would use this nugget of consumer research to sell twice as many drinks. But since we're all friends here, I'm offering you a choice between a robust cocktail in which the tequila steps forward and shakes your hand, and something a little lighter.


NOTE: I used homemade watermelon agua fresca for this, but I'm pretty sure it would taste just as good with bottled watermelon juice from the supermarket.

La Sandía

Robust version:

· 3 oz tequila blanco

· 2 oz watermelon agua fresca

· 1 oz triple sec

· 1 oz lime juice

· Ice

Featherweight version:

· 3 oz watermelon agua fresca

· 2 oz tequila blanco

· 1 oz lime juice

· Ice

Watermelon agua fresca:

· 4 cups fresh watermelon chunks

· 1 lemon

Antonia Helios hails from sturdy peasant stock and has the flat feet to prove it. She is profoundly ignorant on many subjects but an enthusiastic autodidact when it comes to alcohol.

Photo of watermelon by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Photo of La Sandía by Antonia Helios

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