Recipe Spotlight

Pumpkin Spice + Margaritas = Your New Favorite Fall Cocktail

Warm spices and sweet pumpkin paired with tequila and citrus? Trust us.

Published Sept. 30, 2021.

My introduction to Pumpkin Spice Margaritas was a happy accident. I had just developed my recipe for homemade Pumpkin Spice Lattes when I found myself preparing a batch of margaritas for my family. Mid-drink-preparation, I realized I was out of simple syrup. It wouldn’t have taken me long to make more, but the pumpkin syrup from my homemade PSL was sitting in my fridge. I decided to use that instead, and let me tell you: I’m so happy I did.

It sounds bizarre: warm spices and sweet pumpkin paired with tequila and citrus? I’m here to tell you that it works. It works really well.

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It helps to have a solid starting point, which for me was our recipe for Best Fresh Margaritas from our How To Cocktail book. The key to our recipe was to highlight the citrus with both juice and zest. We found that the longer the zest and juice mixture was allowed to steep, the more developed the citrus flavors became in the finished margarita, so we let ours steep for 2 to 24 hours. Alcohol and citrus ratios were also essential—equal parts tequila, orange liqueur, and juice proved optimal. (Blanco tequila will give the margaritas a stronger, more spirit-forward flavor. Reposado tequila, which is aged about 12 months, will bring a smoother, more mellow flavor.)

In case of a pumpkin spice failure, I decided to scale back the recipe by half. I replaced the simple syrup with pumpkin syrup (a 1:1 ratio) and the flavor was just phenomenal. Pumpkin spice can sometimes be overpowering, but the flavors of citrus and tequila paired nicely. It starts out incredibly refreshing and finishes with a hint of warmth and comfort. It’s the perfect cocktail to ease your way into autumn.

And yes, this tastes great with guac.

Pumpkin Spice Margaritas

Makes 6 cocktails

8 ounces blanco or reposado tequila
8 ounces orange liqueur
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest plus 4 ounces juice (4 limes), plus lime wedges for garnishing
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest plus 4 ounces juice (3 lemons)
3 ounces water
1½ ounces Pumpkin Syrup 
¼ cup kosher salt (optional)

1. Combine tequila, liqueur, lime zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, water, and pumpkin syrup in bowl. Cover and refrigerate until flavors meld and mixture is well chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

2. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over serving pitcher or large container, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Keep margarita chilled in refrigerator until ready to serve.

3. Spread salt, if using, into even layer in shallow bowl. Moisten about ½ inch of chilled old-fashioned glass or margarita glass rims by running lime wedge around outer edge; dry any excess juice with paper towel. Roll moistened rims in salt to coat. Remove any excess salt that falls into glass. Serve margaritas in prepared glasses filled with ice, garnishing individual portions with lime wedge.

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