Recipes: The Sweet-Tart Mistletoe Margarita Is a New Christmas Classic
The mistletoe margarita has been making the internet rounds for a handful of years now. As far back as 2017, cookbook author and food blogger Jessica Merchant featured a version on her site How Sweet Eats. But the cocktail, which is essentially a cranberry-infused margarita with a sugared cranberry garnish, seems to have been waiting in the wings for its big moment. It’s finally arrived: Over the most recent holiday seasons, the drink has exploded in popularity.
Last year, Katie Couric posted a mistletoe margarita recipe on her website, as did countless other food bloggers and food publications. Search the term on Google and you’ll get more than a million hits. The drink is an even bigger deal on social media at the moment: The hashtag #mistletoemargarita has notched more than two million views on Tiktok. One batched version by @andreanava.7 boasts nearly 35,000 views and more than 5,000 saves. Another particularly visually appealing, single-serving recipe by @thespritzeffect has reached nearly 18,000 viewers in less than a month.
Suffice to say, this chilled seasonal drink is currently on fire. And, while it may seem simple enough to throw some cranberry juice in a margarita and call it a day, we decided to dress the libation up with premium ingredients and garnishes. Trust us, this drink will impress even the most trend-skeptical party guests.
How We Elevated It
We decided to stick as closely to a classic margarita as possible while still incorporating holiday flavors. To strike the right balance between tradition and whimsy, we tasked Wine Enthusiast Assistant Editor Jacy Topps to develop our version of the cocktail. She decided to start with a silver tequila base, which is “really good for blending,” she says. It has the capacity to shine through many layers of additional ingredients, so “you won’t lose that tequila flavor.”
She opted for agave nectar to further enhance the tequila’s flavor, which amped up the drink’s sweetness. To balance it out, Topps swapped out the triple sec favored in other online versions for higher quality Cointreau, which is “finer and drier” while still providing that bright orange flavor.
Like the viral recipes, this mistletoe margarita also incorporates cranberry juice, lime and a sugared cranberry garnish. Yet this one, like some others, conjures the image of mistletoe with a sprig of rosemary, which imparts a slightly herbal aroma.
“It’s really pretty and I like how the rosemary brings the winter notes into it,” says Topps. “If you see it without rosemary, it looks like a summer drink because of the red-pink hue—so, it really highlights that Christmas component.”
How to Make a Mistletoe Margarita
Recipe by Jacy Topps
- Kosher salt, to rim glass
- Lime slice, to rim glass
- 1 ½ ounces silver tequila
- ¾ Cointreau
- 1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 ounce cranberry juice
- ½ ounce agave nectar
- Rosemary sprig, for garnish
- Sugared cranberries, for garnish*
First, rub a lime wedge around the rim of the rocks glass to moisten, then dip the rim of the glass into a bed of kosher salt. Fill the glass with ice and set aside.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine tequila, lime juice, agave nectar and cranberry juice. Shake vigorously until chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain the cocktail into rimmed glass.
*Squeeze lime juice over the fresh cranberries, then roll them in granulated sugar.
Published: December 8, 2023