These festive pomegranate vanilla bean margaritas are sweet and just a tad sour, with extra richness thanks to the vanilla.
How was your Thanksgiving? To be honest, over here we’ve had better. One of my fiancé’s brothers was in an accident the night before Turkey Day and is still in the hospital. We spent the morning with him at the hospital yesterday and my fiancé slept there last night. He’s going to be okay, but it’s been quite a scare. We were planning to drive down to Atlanta for a big gathering with Ben’s extended family, but ended up staying here in Chattanooga and grabbing a quick restaurant Thanksgiving at Beast and Barrel’s buffet (it was delicious, but I missed getting to cook!). My future niece has also been sick, so I think we have a Thanksgiving redo in the works for Saturday or Sunday.
After all of that, I’m totally ready for a pomegranate vanilla bean margarita. And after a hard day of Black Friday shopping, I bet you will be, too! (By the way, my absolute favorite kitchen gadget, the Instant Pot, is on sale for just $68.95 today! It’s the one thing I bought last year on Black Friday and I use it all the time. Highly recommended as a gift for yourself or others who love to cook and/or save time.)
A few years ago, Ben and I hosted Thanksgiving at our apartment in Boston. I had just started grad school, and I invited all my classmates (60 total) to come if they weren’t able to travel home for the holiday. Ten of them accepted and my mother came, too, so we had a good-sized crowd. It’s the only time I’ve hosted Thanksgiving so far and it was so much fun. Ben made most of the savory dishes, although I did contribute a sweet potato and kale gratin, and I was in charge of dessert. I was also in charge of drinks, and decided to make these cranberry margaritas. I added a tiny splash of vanilla extract, and they were a huge hit. We had beer, wine, and other spirits available, but no one drank anything other than our featured cocktail!
Adding vanilla to a tart, fruity drink makes it taste rich and almost creamy. This year, I wanted to try it with everyone’s favorite winter fruit: pomegranate. These pomegranate margaritas taste a lot like those cranberry ones, but are so much prettier and even more exotic. I add two layers of vanilla flavor: a honey simple syrup made with Rodelle vanilla paste, and a little vanilla extract added to the drink itself at the very end. Rodelle’s vanilla paste is one of my favorite pantry essentials because using it is so much easier than having to cut open and scrape out a vanilla bean, and unlike the beans, it lasts forever. It’s a mix of vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract, and makes everything I add it to so delicious. I do have a substitution suggestion in the recipe notes, though, in case you need these pomegranate vanilla bean margaritas in your life before you have a chance to get your hands on some.
I couldn’t resist garnishing these margaritas with my other new favorite winter fruit: persimmons. I had actually never tried them until I spotted some organic ones at Whole Foods last week. I was surprised to see that they were grown in South Carolina because I’d assumed they were a tropical fruit, but they can actually be grown as far north as Southern New England. My new life goal is to have a persimmon tree as soon as we get our own house. They taste like papaya with a hint of mango and are unbelievably addictive. I like to let the persimmon slice hang out in the pomegranate margarita while I drink it and then eat it at the end–it soaks up a lot of the other flavors and tastes even better than fruit that’s been soaked in sangria (which is always my favorite part!).
Anyway, I wish I could have you over and make you one of these. Since I can’t, will you please make one for yourself? Raising my virtual glass to you–I’m so very glad you’re here.
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup honey
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste*
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar + 2 pinches of sea salt, for rimming the glass
- ¾ cup pomegranate juice
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1-2 tablespoons honey vanilla simple syrup (recipe below), or to taste
- 1 shot tequila, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pomegranate or regular ice cubes**
- Slices of lime and/or persimmon, for garnish
- To make the honey vanilla simple syrup, heat all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until steam rises from the edges. Cool to room temperature before using. The syrup will keep in a jar in the refrigerator for a week.
- Combine the sugar and salt on a flat plate. Rub a lime slice on the rim of the glass and dip into the mixture of sugar and salt to coat the rim.
- Mix the juices, simple syrup, tequila, and vanilla extract in a cocktail shaker or measuring cup.
- Add pomegranate ice cubes to the cup and pour in the juice mixture. Garnish with lime and persimmon slices and serve.
**To make pomegranate ice cubes, fill an ice cube tray about halfway with arils from half a large pomegranate. Fill the rest of the way with water and freeze.
A big thank you to Rodelle for providing me with their products for this post!
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