Unicorn Cocktail

Have you ever seen such a colorful, fun drink? This pink, blue, and purple cocktail is a hybrid between a margarita and a gimlet, so it has a very interesting and sophisticated flavor profile despite its whimsical appearance. I'm so excited to introduce you to this unicorn of cocktails!

I'm worried that quarantine has made me crazy (see this tri-colored, arguably somewhat absurd cocktail as evidence). As I write this, we're waiting out our post-travel quarantine that's required by the state of Vermont. After two days of travel back from Kaua'i, we now have the pleasure of quarantining for a week, getting a COVID test, and then waiting a few more days to receive test results.

About two days in (I have a short attention span and very little capacity for sitting still), I started dreaming of a pink, blue, and purple "unicorn" cocktail. For some reason, I also had the epiphany that a margarita (tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur, agave) and a gimlet (gin, lime juice, simple syrup) are actually remarkably similar. I have numerous recipes for each on this blog, so clearly it was time for some margarita-gimlet fusion.

It may sound nuts, but it actually works beautifully; the lime juice creates the perfect bridge between the two different spirits, and the gin brings complexity that a margarita typically lacks. So perhaps the quarantine craziness sparked a moment of genius??

This drink has three distinct parts that give it its unique color and flavor. The bottom layer is muddled raspberries (I used frozen for ease, and because I'm in quarantine and it's February). The middle layer is essentially a margarita- tequila, lime juice, agave, and blue spirulina for color. The top layer is a float of Empress 1908 Gin.

If you're not familiar with Empress 1908 Gin, it's honestly a joy to work with. It gets its gorgeous color from butterfly pea flower and has a lovely and somewhat non-traditional array of botanicals (including grapefruit and cinnamon, yum!). It's nice for sipping on its own, and wonderful for mixing because it can work with so many different flavors.

You've probably noticed that I've been doing a lot of layered cocktails recently (and also some blue cocktails on my Instagram, although this is the first blue cocktail on the blog). See also my Thanksgiving Eve Ginger Rum Fizz, my Chai Tai, and my Pineapple Express for other examples of layered drinks and hints on how to do it. The most detailed layering instructions are in the rum fizz post.

The bottom line is that it's easier than it looks. And what's the worst that can happen? You mess it up, have to drink the messy one, and try a new one. Oops!

One other technical note. While blue curacao is often used to make drinks blue, it's essentially just sugar and food coloring (ok, and a bit of orange liqueur). I'm not a big fan of either of those things in my drinks, so I've spent a lot of time experimenting with how to get blue cocktails naturally. I've finally gotten the technique nailed down and am happy to share my secret.

The key is blue spirulina! It's an edible algae, and a relative of the more common green spirulina. I have the blue spirulina from Unicorn Superfoods and absolutely adore it, but there are numerous options out there that are super-colorful and have no taste. HOWEVER, blue spirulina does not dissolve well in alcohol! Please trust me on this and don't try it, you'll be disappointed with the gloppy, ugly result. The key is to dissolve it in a tiny dash of hot water, then cool it down and mix it into your cocktail.

So to recap... the blue layer here is naturally colored with blue spirulina and the purple layer is naturally colored (by Empress, not me) with butterfly pea flower. Excellent!

I think this would be a great cocktail for just about any occasion, from a summer get-together to a birthday party. It's festive and fun and happy, and the fact that both tequila and gin are present actually make it easier to pair with food flavors. I made these for our (quarantined) Valentine's Day date night!

I'm a firm believer that cocktails should be fun and not take themselves too seriously. Yeah, so I mixed a margarita and a gimlet and made all these crazy (natural!) colors, so what. If you want a stuffy, classic cocktail, get a dry martini with an olive. But I'm all about creativity in cocktails, and this Unicorn Cocktail is making me incredibly happy.

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Empress 1908 Gin. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.

Margaritas and gimlets, oh my! If you're looking for a more classic version of each, check out my Ginger Margarita and my Watermelon Mint Gimlet.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)
  • Pinch of blue spirulina. You may need to order this online, but I promise you'll have fun with it! It's great for smoothie bowls, nicecream, yogurt, and of course cocktails.
  • Dash of hot water
  • Small handful of raspberries. Either frozen or fresh is fine; if frozen, let them come to room temperature first.
  • 1.5 oz blanco tequila. I prefer blanco here since anything aged will mess with the color of the drink.
  • 2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • Dash of agave to taste
  • 1 oz Empress 1908 Gin
  • Fresh raspberries, blueberries, and/or blackberries for garnish. Bonus points for all three, since it will mimic the colors of the drink!
Thoughts About Method
(These are just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. In a mixing cup or glass, combine the blue spirulina with a dash of hot water and mix well until the spirulina has dissolved fully. Let it sit until it cools down.
  2. In your serving glass, add the raspberries and muddle them until they break apart and release their colorful juice.
  3. In a cocktail shaker, combine the tequila, lime juice, agave, and dissolved blue spirulina and shake well with ice. (Hint: if this is your first time working with blue spirulina, add it gradually so that you can see how the color develops; you want a delicate blue, not dark navy!).
  4. Give it a taste and adjust as you see fit. I like a very tart margarita so I use just a dash of agave, but something like 0.25-0.5 oz is probably standard.
  5. Add a few large ice cubes to your serving glass, on top of the raspberries.
  6. Gently pour the margarita over the ice, being careful not to disturb the raspberries too much.
  7. Very gently, float the Empress 1908 Gin on top of the blue layer.
  8. Garnish with a few fresh berries.


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