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melon margaritas

When I was in Mexico last year, after they were able to uncurl my iron-clad grip on the airport entrance door frame because I was having a hard time leaving all those warm, freshly made corn tortillas behind, on the walkway to the departure gate, I realized I had a few extra pesos jingling in my pocket. Thankfully aside from a lot of great Mexican peanut candies and lime-spritzed peanuts that I stuffed into every pocket of my carry-on, the duty-free shop had a pretty large selection of tequilas, where I figured I could spend the bulk of my leftover funds.

I don’t know much about tequila but apparently there are plenty of people who do, judging by the racks of tequilas on offer—and some of their prices.


Fortunately they were offering shots…er, I mean tastes, for free, so I picked a bottle out from their selection and bought it. The only downside what that they only take US dollars. (The upside, however, is that I have some pesos left over so I think I need to go back to Mexico this winter to use them up.) In Paris, although minty mojitos are prevalent at many cafés during les happy hours, margaritas are rarely seen. The French are more smitten by Cuba and the roguish Fidel Castro than Mexico. But that’s a situation I’m always working pretty hard to change.

melon sorbet blog antiguo tequila

I thought the tequila I got might find its way into a few margaritas, yet a year later, it’s still unopened on my always-crowded liquor shelf. Since melons are in full season, I decided to finally crack it open and make a sorbet to serve to friends, which was likely more approachable than an icy, frozen cocktail, something you won’t find easily in Paris.

(As an aside, I recently read an amusing joke: Q: Why don’t the French make ice? A: Because no one could agree on the recipe.)

However after mixing in all the ingredients and giving it a taste once churned, my usually good intuition told me I’d done the right thing, but my mouth said otherwise. I should’ve known, as I’ve learned it’s often best to dribble alcohol on top of ice cream or sorbet, rather than mix it inside where it loses its verve. So I fished out the cocktail glasses from their long-dormant position in the back of the cabinet, revved up the mighty blender, and whizzed up some frosty margaritas to toast the final days of summer.

blender green limes

There’s likely a whole panel out there devoted to what constitutes a true margarita. Most have an orange-based liqueur in them, such as Triple Sec, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier. I opted not to add one because the lime and melon are fruity enough.

frozen melon margaritas

And lastly, since we’re goin’ roguish here, it’s not necessary to run the sorbet through an ice cream machine if you don’t have one—since you’re blending the whole thing up with ice and even more tequila, you can use my method for freezing ice cream without a machine. You can also pour the mixture into ice cube trays and pop them out and blend them with the other ingredients when making the margaritas.

Frozen Melon Margaritas

Of course, this recipe can be increased if you wish to make more than the two indicated. I’m a big fan of salt, but often people put too much on the glasses. So I take a tip from the Zuni Café in San Francisco, which dips only half the rim of the glass in salt, which seems like just the right amount.

For the melon-tequila sorbet:

  • 1 medium melon (2-pounds, 900g), peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) tequila
  • 1/3 cup (65g) sugar or 1/4 cup (80g) agave nectar
  • big pinch of salt

For the frozen melon margaritas:

  • 6 scoops (8 ounces, 240g) melon-tequila sorbet
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) tequila
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • To make the sorbet, cut the melon into chunks and puree them in a blender with the 1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lime juice, 3 tablespoons (45ml) tequila, the sugar or agave, and the salt, until smooth.
  • Chill thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or use one of the methods in the last paragraph of the post. Another option is to simply pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze.
  • To make the margaritas, blend the scoops of sorbet with the 2 ounces of tequila, ice cubes, and 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Taste, and add more lime juice is desired.
  • Serving: Chill margarita glasses then sprinkle some sea salt on half of a small plate and press half of the rims of the glasses in to salt them. Then divide the mixture between the two glasses.

Related Posts and Links

The Melon Washer

Milk Chocolate and Black Pepper Ice Cream

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Ginger-Basil Margaritas (Steamy Kitchen)

Meyer Lemon Margaritas (White On Rice Couple)

How to Freeze Ice Cream Without a Machine

Sidecar Cocktails

Tips for Keeping Homemade Ice Cream Soft

Melon Sorbet (Simply Recipes)

Tequila by Joanne Weir (Amazon)

Ice Cream Tips

Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Ice Cream

Blood Orange Margaritas (Wasabimon)

Buying an Ice Cream Machine



    • Linda

    I am sitting here laughing out loud at your French/ice joke and my French husband is asking why. I wonder if he will get it? I’m also sort of crying because I have no tequila left and won’t have until I make a trip back to the States.

    • Joe @ Eden Kitchen

    That sorbet looks and sounds divine, can’t wait for it to warm up down here so I can give it a go! Cheers

    • Margareat

    David — is the melon you used a musk melon or a watermelon?
    thanks — dying to make these!

    • Cucina Carolina

    Dear David,

    You are my example of how to make a website. I enjoy yours very much. It stimulated me to make my own one.

    My wife is going to start her new position at a hotel on the Riviera. No, not the French or Italian one, but South Africa has one on the Vaal river in Vereeniging. I will give her your recipe about this melon margarita as I LOVE margarita’s.

    Thank you!

    • Hannah

    I’m only just acclimatizing myself to alcohol on a more regular basis, and I’m thinking that serving it in dessert-ish form could help the cause. This looks delicious – I shall have to file it away for when summer hits in Australia!

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Margareat: I’ve not seen musk melons in France; I use the lovely Cavaillon or Chartentais melons. But you’re welcome to use any kind of melon that’s available to you. I have the weight and volumes in the recipe for that reason.

    Linda: I know, it gave me a chuckle. It interesting because I’ve lost some of my taste for big icy glasses of water, but in the south of France, people use ice liberally in drinks and in rosé. Here in Paris I have a friend with an ice machine in her apartment (!)

    • ault

    I had the good fortune to visit the Heradura distillery back in ’94. It had all the hallmarks of an business that knows its fortunes depend on putting craft ahead of commerce.

    Their reposado is a favourite; and I beg you to please stop putting it into cocktails. It’s on a par with putting a good single malt into a Rob Boy.

    Try it straight, with a splash of water instead.

    For cocktails, their silver is more than good enough.

    • Michmom, Belgium

    I have two gorgeous melons sitting on my counter from our Sunday market and fajitas on the menu for tonight. What perfect timing!

    Loved the ice joke! We had a good laugh this summer while visiting the states. We were enjoying a nice meal out and my tween said “mom, what’s up with all the ice?” You can definitely tell that she’s been living in Europe since the age of two.

    • Jessica @ How Sweet

    Oh how I adore margaritas!

    • Marlene

    With temperatures hitting 90 or so here in New England (practically up as far as Caribou) for an last end-or-August blast, frozen melon margaritas reads as the perfect answer to endure this heat wave. I think a quick early morning shopping expedition for melons, limes and tequila will follow shortly.

    By the way, I realize you did some technical, back-the-scenes stuff on your blog.
    Things appear back to normal, pretty much. Except when I clicked on your link above for the Milk Chocolate and Black Pepper Ice Cream (from 2008) all of the comments from that post were ‘layered’ over the grey right side panel and partially on the blog text as well.

    • Vicki B

    In northern California the temp went from 108 to low seventies, rained a bit and snowed in the mountains. It’s the weirdest summer on record but no one is complaining, except the the tomatoes. Still, these look darn tasty. And the image of you clutching the airport door frame had me in stitches!

    • Susan

    Oh yes!!! What a perfect treat as we ooze into another NYC heat wave. It’s no-market Monday but as long I can find a decent melon somewhere I may survive the week after all…

    • Charissa Reid

    David: With melons at their peak and a big bottle of tequila in the cabinet – they are a now a priority. Now to do something about this 50 degree Montana weather – sheesh!

    • Kim @ Two Good Cookies

    I can’t wait to make these. Let’s just say Mexican influence has yet to take hold here in England too. And I miss margaritas. Real ones. And corn tortillas. And queso fundido. And…well I could go on. And on. I can’t wait to make these. Or go to Mexico. The former seems far more plausible at the moment…

    • yoko

    yummy! wish I could drink this, but I quit tequila after a crazy night which I fortunately don’t remember much of!!!

    You caught my attention with the warm corn tortillas…. I used to live in Chicago and the mexican food there was quite authentic and fantastic. My ex-boyfriend’s mother who was mexican taught me how to make the most delicious, authentic chicken tacos and I reaaaally want to make them but I cannot find any real corn tortillas here in paris!! would you know of any place I can get them from????

    Thank you so much!

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Charissa: I hear you on the temperature drop! This morning it was downright chilly, so much so that I was wearing a sweater. Still, I think the argument could be made for frozen margaritas in any weather : )

    ault: As mentioned, I don’t know much about tequila but this bottle was about $35US. Normally I use inexpensive liquor in cocktails but I know people that always order top-shelf vodka, gin and even Cognac in their drinks. I normally don’t, but I had this bottle and it’s not easy to find less-brands of tequila here in France. But I still have plenty left for sipping!

    Marlene: Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, still working kinks out because much of the site was recoded. Merci~

    yoko: Handmade ones don’t exist. A few years back someone told me about a Mexican person who made them in Belleville and sold them privately, but I never investigated. I bring them back from the states and freeze ’em.

    • Shaheen

    I had this awesome peach margherita this sunday at a brunch and man, was it lip-smacking. Not a fan of melons, but with the addition of lime, I think I’m tempted to try.

    • Natalie Thiele

    Yum! My tap dance teacher keeps giving me veggies from his garden. I just made your zucchini cake with lemon crunch glaze, yesterday. So moist and perfect.
    Last night he gave me some exotic melon, starts with an “A” can’t remember the rest, but it is destined to become a margarita.
    Thank you for the daily entertainment and fabulous recipes.

    • margie

    I still remember my first trip to France – in July – and the strange lack of ice for water. I also remember getting up to eat breakfast one day when we’d run out of milk in the fridge – and my host family didn’t bat an eye at opening up a room temperature box of UHT milk and pouring it on cereal. Ick.

    As for the sorbet – I’ve been eating cantaloupe like they aren’t going to be around for long (which, let’s face it, is true), but I’ve never actually done anything with them – I either salt them or don’t and just gobble them up as quickly as possible. Sometimes I get stuck eating my fruit boring and naked all the time and I forget about all the fun things I could be doing with it!

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    margie: You could cut those melons into chunks and freeze them, and use them for smoothies…and future margaritas.

    French people have told me that drinking icy liquids is bad for your stomach. (I had to remind them that by the time a drink reached your stomach, it had passed through quite a few passages and would warm up by then.) But the giant ice machines we use in America use an enormous amount of energy and the constantly refilling of water glasses—whether empty or not, is pretty wasteful as well. So I’ll stick to freezing melon for margaritas. ; )

    • J. J. trevino Gzz.

    Fresh Tortillas in Paris? Try “Mexi and Co.’ 10 Rue Dante 5th Between Rue St. Jacques and Blvd. St. Germain. Espero que disfruten sus tacos con guacamole y chile del monte , enchiladas, barbacoa, de pollo, carnitas and so and so, and, of course, de postre dulce de leche and a good margarita. SALUD! From someone of Monterrey, Mexico

    • Foodjunkie

    I just made these as I was given a VERY LARGE Tequila bottle by some friends that visited Mexico and didn’t know what to do with it. They turned out fantastic, although I felt they needed a bit more alcohol (we like our cocktails strong). I loved the sorbet on its own too, perfect after a meal. Thank you for sharing.

    • Francheska

    Hurricane Earl is passing by, I could use one of these to have a good time when the lights go out

    • Caroline

    These look delicious ! Actually, frozen margaritas have been the choice drink of the summer in my parisian apartment… I made a batch back in july using the traditional ingredients, plus a hibiscus syrup I found, and they were a huuuuge hit with my french friends. Maybe frozen margaritas will be the next mojito ?

    • Caffettiera

    They look so tempting, even though here in Germany it looks like summer is really, definitely over for good… But even if the heat is gone, there is nothing like a little booze in Margarita form to cheer you up!
    Does anybody have suggestions for a specific brand of tequila, available in continental Europe? Thank you very much!

    • DessertForTwo

    Margaritas flow through my blood! I miss them from growing up in Texas, but at least I’m a little closer to Margaritaville than you :)

    • Jose Manuel

    As always great post.
    And of course I really like when someone talks about Mexico and all the great things in here…
    If you need more tequila just tell me and i will send it to you..hohohohoho…
    The Tradicional Tequila from Jose Cuervo is one of my favorite tequilas for the party, and I think that one of the greatest things about margaritas are that there is no rules for them…I think that you just need a good fresh fruit, some ice and a lot of tequila…

    Best Regards

    • Na

    Just saw your short interview on “eatocracy”, CNN. Kind of cool.

    • Charlene

    Just wanted to stop in and say congrats as well on the CNN “front page” posting. You did a great job on the interview, just as charming as your blog posts!

    • Juliana Goswick

    Just finished Sweet Life in Paris…so sad it had to end. Off to get your chocolate and ice cream book tomorrow. You are a gifted food writer-enjoy your words and humorous insight.

    • kaela

    I love, love, love the cocktail shaker setting on your Kitchenaid blender. Fantastic! Thanks for the laugh.

    • Laura

    Peach margaritas were my choice of drink last week since I have white and freestone peaches. I used the tangy yellows but next am going to use the sweeter whites. I rarely mess with traditional margaritas on the rocks but when you have fresh ingredients – why not?

    Tequila is an essential flavor ingredient and an upgrade of the tequila can really make an ok margarita something truly amazing so I am personally in favor of that. Although I agree with you that many mixed drinks don’t really improve with an upgrade of liquor but I think the tequila in a margarita matters. Think of the many combinations of tequilas and orange liquors that can be combined with the lime juice to make many variations of this very simple drink. I am constantly trying new versions and enjoying each and every one!

    Now for CNN!

    • Yvette Marquez

    Mexico, margaritas and melons…LOVE it ALL!!! Your blog is so amazing!!! I pray that ONE DAY my blog and cookbook will be as captivating. You are my hero ;)

    • lee

    Earlier this summer I made some granny smith and watermelon sorbet, that I did not like very much by itself. It was not bad, but seemed to lack something. A bit of salt, cointreau and tequila was apparently it; with that, it was wonderful. I don’t know why, but tequila seems to brighten the flavor of the watermelon much the way kirsch does for berries.

    • Cooking in Mexico

    From the Mexican Riviera (the coastal states of Nayarit and Jalisco), I can say that tequila has come into its own. The finer tequilas are being compared to fine cognac, with prices to match. I recently had a glass of Casa Magna Extra Añejo tequila, bottled by the Casa Magna Marriott Resort in Puerto Vallarta. (The hotel grows their own blue agave on site as part of their landscaping.) At 980 pesos (close to $90) a bottle, this tequila was worth every pesos. Sublime tequilas are on the market now, and not just for making margaritas, though this melon version looks so refreshing, even at 7 a.m.


    • Cookin’ Canuck

    Sorbet in a margarita – now that’s something I could live with. I like the idea of only dipping half of the glass in salt so as not to overwhelm the cocktail.

    • Janet

    Working in a hot kitchen, with the temperature reaching 33 C in Toronto, that Melon Margaritas looks awfully good. Mmmm, I can just taste it.


    An ordinary margarita is not worth drinking. However, anyone can make an outstanding margarita, with practice, good ingredients and attention to detail. The last requirement seems a little much. But, it is the most important. The drink is in the details.
    Limes: Do not get the very small ones. They are bitter. I know, larger limes are difficult to get into the lime squeezer. No problem, just cut them into four. Light coloured limes are sweeter and preferable to the deep green ones.
    Ice: bagged ice is good. Get lots. In a tropical climate, ice tends to freeze into big lumps in the bag. Take the bag out of the freezer and bang it onto the floor a few times. This will break it up. Put it back into the freezer. Do this in the afternoon before the cocktail hour.
    Controy: the Mexican answer to Cointreau [cost about 100 pesos]
    Tequila: any popular brand as long it is not a super cheap one [130 to 150 pesos.]
    1 – All booze should be in the freezer not the fridge, with the ice, for at least 12 hours. It has to be cracking cold.
    2 – Roll two limes and quarter them. If they are small, then just half three of them. [Roll a lime on a flat surface by placing your right hand over it and with a fair bit of pressure on top of it, use your left hand, roll it. This process will break up the fruit inside and make them more juicy with you squeeze them. ]
    3 – Select an 8-ounce water glass as a measuring cup.
    4 – Get out your blender, right side.
    5 – Get out your margarita glasses, left side. [Regular large martini glasses, five-ouncers]. They do not have to be cold.
    You are about to begin. The preparation should take less than 5 minutes. Speed will be important because the drink has to be crackling cold. If you can serve a margarita that actually ‘smokes’ [actually has frost rising from the surface], then you are in the zone.
    6 – Fill the blender half full of ice. Take the ice out of the freezer by hand. Do not have the ice on the counter. It will warm up. The pieces should be no bigger than a cube. With your blender, you are going to try to shave the pieces down to slush, in a few seconds. If you run the blender too long, the fluid heats up and you get no ‘smoke’.
    7 – Fill your water glass three-quarters full of Controy [6 ounces], taken straight out of the freezer. Pour the Controy quickly into the blender and turn on the blender at top speed. You will see the ice being shaven. It cannot move much because the fluid is nearly frozen and therefore very thick. Once you have the ice fully shaven, move on. You will know when it is nearly done when you cannot hear the lumps of ice thrashing around in the blender. Usually you cannot get rid of all the ice banging. You have to move on because everything is warming up [and your guests have their tongues hanging out by now].
    8 – Take your tequila out of the freezer, pour out three-quarters of a water glass [6 ounces] and toss it into the blender. Blender for two or three seconds.
    9 – Take a quarter of a lime and place it into the squeezer skin side out. This is important. The flesh of the lime must go into the squeezer first. This way you will squeeze out the juice and will not squeeze out the peel. The peel is very bitter. Do not squeeze too hard. Take two more quarters and squeeze them.
    10 – Blender for two seconds. Taste and add lime or a bit more Controy if the taste is too bland or too bitter. Do not hang around.
    11 – Pour out into the waiting glasses. Fill the glasses [the big 5-ounce ones] to the rim. Are they smoking?!
    If you use this method, you can fill four glasses [booze + booze + ice or 6 + 6 + 8 = 20 ounces]. I do not salt the rim of the glasses. I think that the salting ruins this drink. The bartender in the bar down the street salts the glasses to disguise the fact that he cannot build a drink like this one. Also, he probably uses poor quality tequila and does not use fresh limes but rather a tequila mix, ugh.
    Enjoy and then try another round. Two is enough. The third round will start going downhill and you with it. I assume you will be one of the four lucky drinkers. Non-drinkers could never come up with this kind of ambrosia, they just do not understand.

    • Nati

    I like to read your blog, it’s light and colorful.
    Have you been to the Anahuacalli Mexican restaurant, at 30, rue des Bernardins? We were there this Spring with a small group of internet English speaking friends and we had a very good time. Warm reception and good food. Check their reviews and their website.
    Thanks for your work!

    • Brooke – in Oregon

    Oh thanks so much for the fabulous recipe, I have been searching for ways to preserve all the cantaloupe from my garden. Sorbet, what a great idea that way I can freeze it and have margaritas all winter! WOO HOO


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