August is prickly pear season in the American Southwest, an occasion that guarantees two things: a spike in Band-Aid sales, and fresh Prickly Pear Margaritas at Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. Guests of the country’s largest, top-rated dude ranch can view the colorful, spiky fruit as they hike, mountain bike, or ride horses on the cacti-laden trails of the ranch’s 60,000 acres.
The stunning desert landscape is directly adjacent to Saguaro National Park, making 150-year-old Tanque Verde Ranch a uniquely scenic historical treasure. Recognized as the last luxurious outpost of the Old West, the sprawling ranch provides guests with all-inclusive accommodations, elevated western cuisine, cowboy cookouts, and an array of exciting activities including horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, hiking, yoga, and art sessions.
After harvesting the seasonal prickly pears, the Tanque Verde Ranch culinary team remove the “prick” from the sweet fruit by carefully de-thorning the colorful cactus fruit with tongs. The ranch staff then makes the sweet harvest into syrups, desserts, and delicious prickly pear margaritas. If you can’t make it to Tanque Verde’s Dog House Saloon for drinks, you can try de-thorning and juicing your own prickly pears to make these sweet, bright fuchsia margaritas at your own home-on-the-range. We tested the recipe with three well-regarded reposado tequilas – Patron, Los Arango, and inexpensive Cazadores – with delicious results across the board.
TANQUE VERDE RANCH’S PRICKLY PEAR MARGARITA
1.5 ounces reposado tequila
½ ounce Cointreau
1 ounce prickly pear juice
2 ounces lime juice
½ ounce agave nectar or simple syrup
2 ounces lime juice
METHOD: Rim your glass with salt or sugar. Combine tequila, lime juice, Cointreau, prickly pear juice and agave nectar (or simple syrup) in a shaker over ice. Shake well and serve on the rocks. Garnish with a fresh lime wedge.
Based in Los Angeles, Vicki Arkoff is Editor at Large for Pursuitist and a founding editor for Holiday Goddess, the online destination for chic women travelers from the editors of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, Conde Nast Traveler, and BBC. Her travel and lifestyle reports can also be been seen in Atlas Obscura, The Awesomer, DaySpa, The Chicago Tribune, CNN Travel, JustLuxe, Lonely Planet, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Toronto Star, WellSpa 360, WestJet Magazine, Where Traveler, Where Guestbook, Yahoo News, and dozens more. She's co-author of the bestselling Holiday Goddess books (HarperCollins and iTunes) including 'The Holiday Goddess Guide to Paris, London, New York, Rome,' a travel Top 10 staple. As editor, Vicki's other books include 'Sinatra' (DK), 'Inside Mad' (Time-Life) and 'Virgin Los Angeles' (Virgin Books). She is one of the Usual Gang of Idiots for MAD Magazine, an entertainment reporter (Daily Variety, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine, CREEM), and authorized biographer for pop culture icons from the Beach Boys to Beastie Boys, Paul McCartney to MC Hammer.