Frozen Cucumber Margaritas with Chili-Sumac Salt

August is the laziest month, in the best possible way. It seems to move a little slower than the other months of the year—in theory because of the heat, in fact because so many people are on vacation. It’s sluggish, languid even, but always welcoming. (After all, it’s far more fun to be lazy with friends.) All of that makes August, in my mind, the best month for leisurely dinners outside, for grilling in the backyard or by the beach or the lake, for cooking unfussy food. This means, of course, that it’s also prime frozen cocktail season.My most recent slushy obsession is a tequila, cucumber, and coconut water creation, blended up with cilantro and lime and rimmed with a mix of chili powder, sumac, and salt. It’s an ode to my favorite Mexican street snack: fruta con chile y limón, little bags of sliced mango, cucumber, and jicama usually sprinkled with Tajín, a spicy and sour snack seasoning. I make the icy concoction in big batches, and it never lasts very long, but a little advance prep and direction empowers my guests to blend more themselves without disturbing my valuable chill time. I peel and chop several cucumbers in advance, portion them out, and freeze them before guests arrive; squeeze lots of lime into a bowl; and chop an extra-big bunch of herbs on the side. The chili-salt mixture sits on a plate on the counter for people to sprinkle and rim as they please. And any extra doubles as seasoning for crunchy veggies, grilled corn on the cob, or a platter of watermelon. It’s August at its best.

Frozen Cucumber Margaritas
Photo: Victor Protasio
Total Time:
4 hrs 15 mins


  • 2 large (9-ounce) English or seedless cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sumac

  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 3 limes, 2 squeezed limes reserved)

  • 4 cups ice cubes

  • 1 1/2 cups bottled coconut water (such as Vita Coco)

  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) premium silver tequila (such as Herradura Silver)

  • 1/2 cup simple syrup

  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1 cup thinly sliced English or seedless cucumbers, for garnish

  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish


  1. Place chopped cucumbers in a ziplock plastic freezer bag. Seal and freeze at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

  2. Stir together salt, chili powder, and sumac in a small bowl. Spread mixture evenly over a small plate. Add lime juice to blender. Working with 1 glass at a time, rub the rims of 8 rocks glasses with reserved squeezed limes; roll rims in salt mixture until completely coated.

  3. Transfer frozen cucumbers to blender with lime juice; add ice cubes, coconut water, tequila, simple syrup, and chopped cilantro. Process until smooth, about 2 minutes.

  4. Divide cucumber mixture evenly among prepared glasses; garnish glasses with cucumber slices and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.


Sprinkle any remaining chili-sumac salt over raw fruits and veggies (such as cucumbers, radishes, jicama, or mango). Add a squeeze of lime and some chopped cilantro for a crunchy, refreshing snack.

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