It’s safe to say that if you have ever flown out of Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix or strolled the streets of Old Town Scottsdale, you’ve seen prickly pear something or another. Prickly pear candy, prickly pear tea, prickly pear jelly, shot glasses, margaritas, honey, lemonade, shirts….we could go on for days.
Prickly pear is Arizona’s THING just like Maine has their lobster, Philly has their cheesesteaks, and Wisconsin has their curds. The valley of the sun has been blessed with little pink gems that grow like wildflowers. If you live here in Phoenix, September is the month when you can’t miss them in the wild.
So what in the heck is a prickly pear anyway? What does it taste like? Why does Arizona love it so much? Part of a very large cactus family, Opuntia is the genus of cacti that is identified by its fruit. Their large paddles have a sparse amount of needles compared to some of its relatives like the Golden Barrel or Saguaro. The Prickly Pear Cactus is best known for those brightly color tunas that group together on the edge of the paddles. Sometimes they blossom or they are harvested to produce a unique ingredients that is notorious to Arizona.
With a flavor that hits the tip of the tongue, the prickly pear makes you ask yourself, “what am I tasting right now?” Is it a berry? Maybe some type of red fruit? Heck, maybe it’s pink pineapple I’ve never heard of?! Nope, that’s the prickly pear. Almost matching the color of itself, prickly pears taste like a strawberry and raspberry hooked up. It has texture and body with earthy notes that remind us of the Sonoran Desert. It’s no wonder why Arizona is obsessed with them. In some magical way, we’ve been gifted this fruit that tastes exactly like the desert that we reside.
We, of course, jumped on the bandwagon with the rest of Arizona and honor this ingredient with one of our most adored flavors, Prickly Pear Sour. We feature fruit that is harvested in Tucson by Arizona Cactus Ranch. We’ve met the 77 year old woman who still harvests the fruit by hand and processes them fresh in a small, industrial kitchen in the backwoods of Pima County. Natalie takes her practice seriously and understands how effective this fruit can be. It has surprising health benefits that she’s seen first hand cure her community of digestion aliments and improve heart health.
We’re not saying that if you mix Prickly Pear Sour in your next cocktail, you’ll be healthier but you might just be more connected with our desert. Paired with freshly zested and juiced lemons, this seasonal mixer shines with any spirit. Shake it up with tequila for a famous Prickly Pear Margarita or add it whiskey or rum for the finest Sour you’ve ever tasted. Our favorite signature cocktail? The Pricky Rickey which is a take on the glassic Gin Rickey, that we believe tastes the best in September.
Pick up your bottle of Prickly Pear Sour before the batch runs out. We only make this seasonal mixer in the large size two times a year-- the month of September when the fruit is the ripest and the month of February to celebrate Arizona’s birthday. Year round, you can take a taste of Arizona with you with our Prickly Pear Sour Travel Size or add it your Mini Mixer Pack.
No matter how you drink it, raise a glass to this seriously cool and unique ingredient, the Prickly Pear.
Iconic Cocktail Co.
2oz of Gin
1oz Prickly Pear Sour
1/2oz Lime Juice
-Combine all in a glass with ice and a splash of sparkling water
-Garnish with a lime wheel