Unicorn Cocktail


(Note: this post was originally published on February 18, 2021. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)

The Story

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??

Three Layers

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.

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). The bottom line is that it's easier than it looks; you just need to be a bit gentle while pouring. And what's the worst that can happen? You mess it up, have to drink the messy one, and try a new one. Oops!

A Magical Purple 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.

Naturally Blue

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!

Let's Talk Ingredients

Here's what you'll need for this cocktail, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

  • 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.
  • Hot water. For dissolving the spirulina; see the tips above. This will not work well if you don't do this step!
  • Small handful of raspberries. Either frozen or fresh is fine; if frozen, let them come to room temperature first.
  • Blanco tequila. I prefer blanco here since anything aged will mess with the color of the drink.
  • Fresh-squeezed lime juice. Must be fresh-squeezed!
  • Agave. Agave is the classic sweetener for a margarita, so I've used agave here since it ends up in the tequila portion of the drink. However, simple syrup is the classic sweetener for a gimlet, so you can use that instead if you prefer. Also, note that you can easily adjust the sweetness level to your own taste; just remember that you'll be adding some additional gin on top, so make the margarita just a tad sweeter than you'd want.
  • Empress 1908 Gin. This is an absolutely wonderful ingredient that I sincerely hope you can get your hands on! This drink will work fine with a regular gin too, but you'll lack the distinctive purple color.
  • Additional fresh berries for garnish. Bonus points for using a variety, since it will mimic the colors of the drink!

Closing Thoughts

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.

Share It!

It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.

Suggested Pairings

Tropical Guacamole

Unicorn Hummus

Watermelon Nachos with Avocado Sauce

Unicorn Cauliflower

Snack Board Guide

Disclosure: I received free product from Empress 1908 Gin. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.

Unicorn Cocktail

An absurdly-colorful cocktail that combines tequila and gin, this fun cocktail is over-the-top in the best way possible. It's not quite a margarita and not quite a gimlet... it's a unicorn that magically does both!



  • Pinch of blue spirulina
  • Dash of hot water
  • Small handful of raspberries
  • 1.5 oz blanco tequila
  • 2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 0.5 oz agave, or to taste
  • 1 oz Empress 1908 Gin
  • Fresh raspberries, blueberries, and/or blackberries for garnish


  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. Add a few large ice cubes to your serving glass, on top of the raspberries.
  5. Gently pour the margarita over the ice, being careful not to disturb the raspberries too much.
  6. Very gently, float the Empress 1908 Gin on top of the blue layer.
  7. Garnish with a few fresh berries.

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Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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