Did you know that the prickly pear grows on a cactus? That’s right, this vibrantly colored fruit can be found sprouting on top of Opuntia cacti, plants which are native to North and South America, but can now be found throughout much of the world. If you’ve never had it, the best way I can describe the prickly pear flavor is that it is sweet like a strawberry or raspberry, but also somewhat bland, kind of like a melon. And with hues ranging from bright pink, to ruby red, to a delightful yellow-green, I knew I just had to get this fascinating ingredient into a cocktail recipe.
Unfortunately, finding fresh prickly pear can be a little difficult in my Seattle-area hometown–especially in the winter months. But if you know me, you know that this Queen Bee can always find a work around! Thankfully, there are a lot of great prickly pear syrups on the market, each of which can give you the fruit’s delicious flavor and signature pink color without the inconvenience of scouring multiple grocery stores. Plus, once you snag a bottle of syrup, you’re set for many happy hours to come.
Can we talk about this drink’s amazing color? I can’t get enough of this pink! And the reasons to love this cocktail don’t stop there. The mix of sweet prickly pear and spicy ginger, combined with mezcal’s distinct smokiness, make for a complex and balanced libation. Wondering how to select your spirit? Choosing a mezcal can be a little overwhelming, but don’t be intimidated! I recommend starting with joven, meaning a mezcal that has not been aged in oak barrels. This will give you the purest agave taste possible and from there you can play with different varieties, ages, and blends. Happy sipping!