You may have never heard of the liquor distilled in the Uruapan area of Michoacan, but it has been around for hundreds of years. The word charanda comes from the indigenous Tarascan language because the existence of “charanda” predates the Spanish conquest. The native Tarascans use sugar cane to make this liquor, much in the way rum is produced. However, charanda is 38% alcohol by volume, so it is considered by some to be aguardiente, firewater.
I got the idea for this margarita recipe after reading an excellent blog, Mexico Cooks. Executive chef Lucero Soto Arriaga had created a charanda margarita at Restaurante LU in Morelia. There was no recipe included, just a hint of ingredients, and a photograph of the drink that lured me with its deep caramel color. With my all-natural drink ideas in mind, I set out one evening to find the ingredients I thought I’d need. I found charanda in East L.A.and tamarindo candies in my favorite Luis Market near my South Los Angeles home. Everything else was readily available at my local supermarket.
Charanda was first imported into the United States in the mid 1990s, and is available in several brands and varieties. I used the reposada. It isn’t widely available, so if you can’t locate it locally, you can search for an online resource. I suppose you could replace the charanda in this recipe with tequila, but that would take the novelty out of this amazingly sweet, tart and spicy margarita. When you enjoy one of these luscious libations, you may feel like you have sailed off to a waking dreamland, but as they say about a good martini, one isn’t enough and two may be too many.
(Makes 1 pitcher of Charanda Margaritas)
4 ozs. Tarasco Charanda Reposada liquor
3 ozs. Cointreau Noir
6 ozs. fresh lime juice or all-natural lime juice
3/4 cup all natural sweet and sour mix
1 tbsp. turbinado sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground New Mexico chile powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 round tamarindo candy or 2 tsp. of tamarindo paste
2 cups ice
coarse sea salt and chile powder to line the rim of the glass
lime wedges to wet rim of glass and for garnish
Blend all ingredients until liquefied. Wet rim of glasses by running a lime wedge around the circumference. Turn the glasses over onto a plate of salt and chile mixture in order to coat the rim. Pour the blended drink into the glass and enjoy responsibly!