Margarita

While you can never discount the immaculate pairing of tequila, orange and lime in the classic margarita, sometimes you just need a wild card cocktail to wake up your senses, cool down your body and slap up your brain. If you’re suffering from the first-world problem of margarita malaise, shake things up with the fun flavors in the four margarita recipes below.

Always start with high-quality tequila. Many people prefer silver tequilas for margarita mixing, which have a clean, steely flavor. For top shelf taste, opt for certified organic 100 percent blue agave silver tequila, from brands like 4Copas or 123 Tequila.

Chill your tequila first along with the glass you will be using, and be sure to make your ice with filtered water for best results. If you like salt on the rim of your margaritas, simply spread a thin layer of salt on a small plate, wet the rim of your glass with a slice of lime and dip it in.

With fresh fruits and light agave nectar or honey as the sweetener, these margaritas could almost pass as a health drink. Each recipe makes one margarita, and you can always substitute triple sec (or any orange liqueur) for the Cointreau.

1. Cucumber-Jalapeno: In a cocktail shaker, combine ½ cup peeled, diced cucumber (saving back one slice of cucumber for garnish), 5 thin jalapeno slices (with or without seeds), ¼ fresh cilantro, 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice and 1 ½ teaspoon light agave nectar. Muddle gently until the mixture is nice and juicy (but don’t pummel it to death). Fill the shaker half full with ice, then add ¼ cup of tequila and 1 tablespoon Cointreau. Shake well – about 30 seconds, then strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a cucumber wheel.

2. Mango-Mint: Combine in a shaker 8 large mint leaves, 1 ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 ½ teaspoon honey and ¼ cup mango nectar or juice. Muddle gently, then fill your shaker half full with ice, adding 1/4 cup of tequila and 1 tablespoon Cointreau. Shake well and then strain into a chilled glass, garnishing with a fresh spring of mint.

Peach-Ginger: Grab your cocktail shaker and add 1 pitted and diced ripe peach (saving back one slice for the garnish) along with ½ teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger root, 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice and 1 ½ teaspoon light agave nectar. Muddle it well, then fill the shaker halfway with ice and add 1/4 cup of tequila and 1 tablespoon Cointreau. Shake gently for 30 seconds, and then strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a slice of fresh peach!

Watermelon-Basil: In a shaker, muddle together ½ cup diced ripe watermelon along with 8 fresh basil leaves, 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice and 1 ½ teaspoon light agave nectar. Next fill the shaker halfway up with ice, then add 1/4 cup of tequila and 1 tablespoon Cointreau. Shake it violently, and then strain the mixture into your chilled glass, Garnish with a skewer of watermelon chunks or a small sprig of basil.