Meyer Lemon Margarita

by on January 29, 2010

I have a little confession.  I didn’t used to be very fond of Meyer Lemons.  In fact, a scratch and sniff of a Meyer lemon rind rekindled memories of small stink bugs that gathered in mini-swarms during the warm summer months on ranch where I first teethed.

The bugs were small and innocent, yet when threatened they’d release a malodorous spray in the vicinity of any foe. Stumble upon a swarm of these little buggers and I’d be dancing about like a pinball trying not to run into one, lest I upset their delicacies.  Many times failure would leave me perfumed with “eau de pew”. Worse yet, memories of them flying kamikaze into my maw still leave me cringing and wanting to rinse my mouth clean. It’ll teach you to keep you mouth shut, I guarantee.

And these little golden treasures of the culinary world, the beautiful, brillant-yellow Meyer lemons, reminded me of that smell.  Go figure. The juice is harmlessly tart, being lower on acid which gently softens its bite, and slightly sweet which adds an extra dimension over the typically delicious classic lemon, the Eureka.  However, for me, the oils in the rind nearly alway trigger those foul olfactory memories of the stink bug.

Over ten years ago, Diane and I bought our first citrus tree to put on our tiny patio.  A beautiful little lemon tree.  A Meyer lemon tree.  At that time I had no idea what a Meyer lemon was.  A lemon is a lemon, right?

When our pride of the patio developed its first fruit, Diane squealed with joy while I sniffed the brilliant yellow prize and was instantly transported back to my childhood run-ins with the stink bugs. I put on my best happy face and gave her back the lemon grenade to enjoy all by herself.

Years do funny things to our senses and slowly the Meyer lemon became less offensive to me. The juice was always wonderful on the palate, but it took a while before I could fully embrace the love of the Meyer.  The sense of smell is very powerful, but within the last few years, my heart and nose have warmed to the Meyer lemon and my love for them now equals that which I extend to all of our other citrus. We’ll both joyfully coax and pamper our Meyer lemon tree trying to get it to produce as much of its fruit as the branches will bear.

We’ve always enjoyed using the juice of the Meyer lemon for cooking.  Meyer lemon muffins or Meyer lemon curd are absolutely delectable.  The gentle lemony tang combined with the touch of sweetness that Meyer lemons behold are a joy to the palate. However I had never used them for cocktails until one of our dear LA friends, Sara, mentioned their favorite drink of the summer was the Meyer Lemon Margarita.  They had picked their tree bare concocting these enticing cocktails.

Intrigued and always on the hunt for another delicious cocktail, especially one which pulls from our garden, we sliced & iced a Meyer lemon with shot of tequila and  hit of triple.  At first sip our eyes widened. I immediately head back into the garden to snag a few more Meyer lemons and soon we began to wrap ourselves up in the warm tingle of tequila softened, sweetened and balanced by the golden elixir of the Meyer lemon.

The Meyer Lemon pairs exceptionally well with tequila and we would be hard pressed to say if we like a classic Margarita or these Meyer Lemon Margaritas better.  They each have their own delicious draw, this one slightly sweeter and more floral, the classic slightly brighter. Time to do a taste off with the garden fruit to see who’s flavor reigns supreme.

-Todd

More Cocktail and Margarita Recipes

Meyer Lemon Margarita Recipe

Yield: 1 cocktail

Total Time: 5 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz. fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. Tequila
  • 1 oz. Triple Sec (or Cointreau if you want to go "top-shelf")
  • sea salt for rimming glass

Directions:

  1. Rub the rim of an old fashioned glass (or whatever similar vessel you prefer) with a meyer lemon slice.  Swirl the rim through a small pile of kosher or sea salt to salt the rim.
  2. Put the meyer lemon juice, tequila, and triple sec in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake for 15 seconds.
  3. Put a few cubes of ice in your glass.  Strain the cocktail into the glass and enjoy.
Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 FriedasProduce January 29, 2010 at 8:54 am

Love this!

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2 Jennifer J January 29, 2010 at 9:12 am

So pleased that you came round to liking these beauties, especially since this recipe was born of your appreciation. Cheers!

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3 Phoo-D January 29, 2010 at 10:03 am

When I smell a meyer lemon the first thing that comes to mind is a cocktail! My grandfather has trees and every evening he’d pick a lemon and make a vodka and tonic with meyer lemon. To this day it is one of my favorite drinks. I have never tried them in a margarita. More experimentation is in order, as it sounds great!

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4 Michelle January 29, 2010 at 10:17 am

I have not experimented very much with meyer lemons but this seems like the perfect opportunity!

Thanks!

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5 Dawn (KitchenTravels) January 29, 2010 at 10:37 am

Great piece of writing, Todd. Isn’t it amazing how scent can bring back old memories so vividly? I’ve heard the sense of smell is one of the strongest memory indicators. One question about the recipe: I guess the sweeter flavor of a Meyer lemon vs. a Eureka or other tart lemon counters the need to add any sugar or syrup to the cocktail? Using regular lemon juice without simple syrup seems like it would result in a mouth-puckering sip!

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6 White on Rice Couple January 29, 2010 at 11:22 am

Thanks Dawn. For the Meyer lemons, I don’t think they need any extra sweetness. It is a personal preference thing, but for Eurekas I would add maybe a 1/2 oz of simple syrup, however for lime juice I don’t add anything. The triple sec (or Cointreau) and even the tequila have some sweetness to them but if you have a sweet jaw like me, then a little extra sweetness is nice. For alcohol lightweights, I’ll shake up a regular set of these (or classic) margaritas, add around 3/4 oz of simple syrup, pour it into a highball glass with ice then top with club soda to make a nice spritzer.

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7 Dawn (KitchenTravels) February 1, 2010 at 10:49 am

Thanks, Todd. Back in the day, tequila was my spirit of choice. I’ve become one of those “lightweights” now, so I’ll have to give your spritzer idea a try. ;)

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8 Susan @ SGCC January 29, 2010 at 10:50 am

Oooh! I can make these now, because my little Meyer lemon tree is finally producing fruit. Oh joy! Oh joy! Thanks for the recipe! :D

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9 zebulon January 29, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Can I have one of those, please? Your pics and description sure make me crave for one!

Ever since I’ve heard about Meyer lemons on (American) food blogs, I’ve been wanting to taste them. Pity that they are virtually unknown here in France (at least, unfindable in fruit shops). And since David Lebovitz said they don’t stand travel very well, I’m a bit despaired…
I guess I’ll have to wait some more to satisfy that craving of mine ^^

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10 Victoria January 30, 2010 at 4:15 am

Hi, Todd,

I used to make a delicious – but complicated – margarita I got from Cook’s Illustrated. Then one NYC hot summer’s day, as I was working in a room with no AC, I read a different – and simple – recipe on the now unfortunately defunct Ceres & Bacchus blog. It contained only 1/2 lime, 2 shots of Tequila, and one shot of Triple Sec. It was delicious, hit the spot, and became my go-to margarita recipe made with Hornitos Tequila and (always) Bols Triple Sec, served over lots of ice in a big wine glass.

Then two years ago a friend of mine who lives in California and has a Meyer lemon tree in her back yard sent me a HUGE box of her hand-picked lemons. I brought them to the farm, squeezed them all – so easy with a hand squeezer since they are sooooo soft – and froze the juice in Ziplock bags. You can imagine the good use I put that juice to.

Relatives and friends must have given my dad bottles of Scotch at Christmas during the years after my mother passed away, and he just stashed them in his liquor cabinet. I discovered them after he died. So that first winter, 2007, Walter and I drank Scotch sours made with Meyer lemon juice as our Saturday night cocktail, toasting my adorable and much-missed dad each week. To Anthony!

So I am no stranger to the delights of Meyer lemons used in a good cocktail. But a margarita? Brilliant. I don’t think I will be able to wait to try one of these puppies till summer, and even though – I kid you not – it is minus 6 degrees here at the farm this morning, I am going to get a Meyer lemon this week when I’m back in the city and make one! But from then on until the temperature soars, I will probably stick to your Sidecar Fizz as the Saturday night cocktail we have been drinking this winter. It warms the body and soul!

As always, thanks for the great concoction.

Vic

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11 White on Rice Couple January 31, 2010 at 1:19 pm

-6 degrees! That hurts. I can remember those days when we’d have an extra cold spell with the temps staying below zero for a time. Literally hurts to breathe.
A Scotch sour with meyer lemon sounds delicious. That may be tonight’s cocktail, with a continued toast to our passed loved ones. Glad to see you guys are hooked on the Sidecar Fizz.
Todd

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12 So Spiffy January 30, 2010 at 6:14 am

I photography is spot on, LOVE it. For the longest time my RSS reader was not updating your feed…. I think I got it fixed though…. Lemons are finally starting to be avail here without any post harvest..

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13 Debi(Table Talk) January 30, 2010 at 5:29 am

I was surprised to find Meyer lemons at Costco of all places! I got sucked into volumized shopping and brought home the 4# package (because they were SUCH A GOOD DEAL!). I will be whipping up a few of these margaritas with some of them.

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14 Heidi Robb January 30, 2010 at 7:07 am

When life gives me lemons, I hope they are Meyers.

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15 Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle January 30, 2010 at 7:15 am

Please stop…you make me jealous EVERY DAY. I’m sitting here shivering and you’re drinking margaritas. No fair.

But…soon the weather will warm, the yard I have coaxed into resembling North Carolina in the dry climate of Colorado will start to be reborn and with it…margaritas. They’re my summer specialty and I never make them without fresh lemons (and in my version, limes) but have never considering using Meyer Lemons and I love them.

Duly noted…will have to try…but can I share this? My quest for the perfect margarita has resulted, for me, in discovering what I think is the single most important part…good tequila. Not pricey sipping tequila but something mid range. I always buy reposado…the smoothness of this slightly aged version will be wonderful with the tang of meyer lemons.

Now hoping for another toasty warm day like yesterday (45 degrees) when I can start to envision enjoying one too!

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16 Victoria January 31, 2010 at 6:56 am

I couldn’t agree with you more about the tequila. I forgot to add in my comment above that the tequila I use for my margaritas is Hornitos Resposado, and I always use Bols – only Bols – Triple Sec. (I personally don’t like Grand Marnier or Cointreau – or even the delicious Patron Citronge liqueur, which I love on its own – in my margaritas.)

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17 White on Rice Couple January 31, 2010 at 1:50 pm

We double agree. Hornitos Reposado is our go-to tequila for cocktails. Bols is also the only triple sec we buy. Whether we use triple sec or Cointreau will depend on our mood and what is in the cabinet. The Bols triple sec has a lighter, almost cleaner flavor and mouth feel to me, but sometimes I like the slightly richer feel of Cointreau. Considering how much more Cointreau costs, we go through quite a few bottles of triple sec before emptying one Cointreau. Thanks to both of you for bringing this up. I couldn’t make up my mind when writing the post if I wanted to get into tequila selection and you have solved my dilemma.
Todd

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18 Bri January 30, 2010 at 8:05 am

These look amazing. I’m so very jealous of your meyer lemon tree. They just had some at our supermarket and I ran out and stocked up. I wasn’t sure what to do with them (was thinking about making preserved meyer lemons) but this looks like a good use of a precious fruit!

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19 Richard Stevens January 30, 2010 at 8:48 am

This is making my mouth water! I love Meyer lemons. Love to use them for preserved lemons. Love Margaritas too!! Great photos! Of course ;-)

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20 Amber @ Native Food and Wine January 30, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Your post is so timely. I’ve been traveling in New Zealand and Australia for about 4 months now and last night as I was walking home I ran across a real Mexican restaurant – authentic Mexican food down under – what a miracle! Anyway, my point is I had a margarita and it was so very good. Yours sounds delicious and I like the lower acid content that Myer lemons would provide.

Cheers!

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21 Cookin' Canuck January 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Very funny story about the stink bugs! It seems that a beautiful Meyer lemon margarita is a fabulous way to get past your childhood olfactory nightmares!

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22 Delia January 30, 2010 at 7:50 pm

This post makes me want to plant a Meyer lemon tree. I am not sure how one would fare here in central Texas, but it may be the only way I can get my hands on a Meyer lemon. Your site is beautiful. I found it through Smitten Kitchen and David Lebovitz.

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23 White on Rice Couple January 31, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Check with your local nurseries. I depends on how cold you get, but they do very well in pots, so one option is to shelter the tree during the cold months, then bring it back out when you no longer have to worry about freezing.

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24 Sophie January 31, 2010 at 3:15 am

A very refreshing & tasty frink!! Yum!

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25 Garrett January 31, 2010 at 12:59 pm

A thoroughly enjoyable story to go with this recipe. Personally, I have never been able to actually smell the smell of stink bugs. My nose was never able to detect it.

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26 White on Rice Couple January 31, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Some people have all the luck!

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27 Alex February 1, 2010 at 4:10 am

Wow – gorgeous shots and a wonderful use for meyer lemons. Hard to get hold of in the UK but definitely worth seeking out

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28 Tokyo Terrace February 1, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Oh my goodness…this looks delicious! I love margaritas and we don’t really make them here in Tokyo because Tequila is so expensive. I actually have not really been exposed to Meyer lemons yet, but I certainly hope to enjoy them someday soon. Gorgeous post!!

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29 Kate @ Savour Fare February 2, 2010 at 9:40 am

We have a pretty productive dwarf Meyer lemon tree, and I’m always looking for ideas on how to use up the fruit — thanks for this suggestion — a margarita sounds right up my alley!

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30 deana (lostpastremembered) February 2, 2010 at 9:53 am

The lemon story was wonderful. Smells can telescope memories to the present in such clarity. As always, the pictures are superb in that I-want-to-reach-out-and-have-a-sip way you have!

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31 Dominik MJ the opinionated alchemist February 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I really like the story – thank you that you shared your childhood memories…

Unfortunately outside of the US [in my case the Middle East] there is no way to get Meyer Lemons – thought once, that I found some, as the fruit in the supermarket was rounder as normal lemons and was called sweet lemon.

It was less sour than normal lemons but also almost tasteless… definitely not a Meyer lemon.
I would rather recommend not only using Cointreau as top shelf choice.
A good bitter orange liqueur decides beside of the spirit, if a cocktail becomes great or mediocre,,, It actually doesn’t have to be Cointreau – my favorite is Patron Citronge, which is slightly less pronounced but also fruitier.

I don’t consider Bols or DeKuyper [or even Giffard, Monin, Roses or Marie Brizard] as proper liqueurs and your drink, will suffer….

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32 Victoria February 10, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Okay, Todd, in spite of the NYC blizzard, I couldn’t wait any longer.

Perhaps I am a contrarian. Perhaps I have no patience. Everyone else might be drinking a hot toddy or single malt Scotch. But me -

I’m drinking a WOR Meyer Lemon Margarita!

A toast to you and Diane from Walter and me. We think we will be having many happy returns to this drink. Ole.

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33 Angela@spinachtiger.com February 18, 2010 at 6:04 am

This looks so delicious because I love meyer lemons or any lemons or anything citrus really. Did I mention I love salt too?

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34 joanne March 15, 2010 at 9:02 pm

TraderJoe’s has them right now so it must be time for a great cocktail. All the ideas below sound great

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35 Steve Carlson April 4, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Drinking this one down now. I had peeled 20 meyer lemons fresh off a neighbor’s tree, carefully scraped the pith from the peel, and plunged the zesty golden goodness into a mason jar of vodka — I’ll let the skins steep for a month or two, and it will be my summertime limoncello. In the meantime, I have a pile of meyer lemons with no skin — better use them fast. I knew there was some meyer lemon cocktail recipe on here, and no surprise, it is terrific. I included a key lime, which my neighbor also supplied. A great use for my pile of naked meyer lemons. Thanks, T&D.

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36 Molly May 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm

After a hellish day at work, I was looking at a bottle of patron, a bottle of triple sec and no limes, wondering if I could possibly substitute a few of the meyer lemons from our tree outside. Question answered. Lemons juiced. Can’t wait to put my feet up out back and enjoy!

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37 Mickie_G April 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I made this margarita recipe using one addition: a splash of Rose’s Lime. Luscious.
I squeezed the Meyers and froze the juice to use at will. Thanks!

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38 Amy May 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I have a love affair with Meyer lemons. I don’t find them often, but when I do, I scoop up as many as I can and prepare for all the fantastic culinary delights to come. There is nothing prettier than a lemon, I think, and nothing more delicious than a Meyer lemon! This was the perfect, PERFECT summery drink, and the perfect post-work cocktail. Thanks so much for sharing! My margaritas will never be the same! I think my Meyers were a bit more tart than usual, so I added just a bit of agave to sweeten it up. It was utterly delicious!

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39 Lynlee August 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I am most impressed there is no sugar or simple syrup in this recipe. Thank you! Why cant we just enjoy booze and fruit as it was meant to be? Now I just wish staring at my meyer lemon tree we planted this weekend would somehow make it produce in time for patio happy hour next week.

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40 Alicia September 26, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I just made this! I did need some sugar since i like my margaritas just slightly sweeter than this recipe. I was feeling kind of lazy so no simply syrup, I just shook in a tablespoon of granulated. This was perfect proportions. I will absolutely make it again! :-)

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41 Kari McGee January 13, 2014 at 10:19 am

We have loved Meyer Lemons ever since living in LA for a few years with a wonderful Meyer Lemon tree. I used to slice and roast them with chicken and eat them skins and all! We’re now back in the Pacific NW but always love to see these come in season. We just returned from Mexico and I’ve been desperately trying to recreate the smooth, exceptionally balanced (and yes, slightly sweeter) margaritas we enjoyed in Puerto Vallarta. Unfortunately, our group found this Meyer Lemon Margarita recipe to be very acidic and way off balance in terms of the lemon taste. I think Cointreau would definitely help, and yes, we all thought some kind of sweetener was needed. Sorry – not for us, but I love the idea!

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42 White on Rice Couple January 13, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Hi Kari,
Thanks for the feedback. After your comment, we picked up some meyer lemons from the store instead of relying on our homegrown ones, and we have to agree with you. It is a bit off balance. In the past couple years we’ve also changed how we make our margaritas, including the meyer lemon margarita. Instead of using triple sec, we’ll use simple syrup and orange bitters. We feel they are quite a bit better this way. We posted a recipe about a classic margarita with bitters a couple years ago. Here’s a link if you want to try it out. For our current house meyer lemon margaritas we do just about the same ratios as this recipe, just subbing the meyer lemon juice for the lime juice. We might tweak things a bit so play to taste. We’ll have to recipe test and post about it in the future. ;) Thanks again.
T & D

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