Calamansi Margarita

It’s another CLICK! event, and this time the theme is Citrus. The Jugalbandits are accepting entries until August 30th, so get out your cameras and join the citrus-scented fun…


It’s the King of Limes, in my book — Calamansi — also known as Kalamansi or Calamondin (Citrofortunella microcarpa).

It’s flavor: a cross between lime and maybe a Seville orange, and as distinct as Key Lime or Wild Lime Leaves. If you’ve never tried it, I’m sorry. Really. You don’t yet know what you’re missing. It looks like a small round lime, but with the thin peel of a tangerine. In markets it may range in size from a Pfennig (smaller than a penny) to a half-dollar, and in color from mottled greens to pure orange, though its pulp is always a dark orange. The more orange the rind, the sweeter the juice will be; but it’s never as sweet as its eponymously named cousins. We prefer the greener ones — after all, we want to take advantage of its lime-ier qualities.

Native to southeast Asia, calamansi trees can be found as popular ornamental trees far from their native lands. When we lived in Europe we had this potted tree to remind me of home, and from which we could pick fresh calamansi most of the year. They are a popular tree in the nurseries and garden shops (labelled “Calamondin”) in Europe, and they’re raised in Tuscany (talk about being a long way from home!). I often wondered if anyone else buying these trees in Germany actually used the fruit as well. The glorious fragrance of both the fruit and leaves is extremely addictive, so be warned — try it once and you’ll be hooked. I used to love to crush the leaves and place them in a bowl, especially in winter, for a hint of the coming spring.

Calamansi are ubiquitous in Philippine cuisine — and for me, arroz caldo, pancit bihon and bistek are just not the same without this distinctive flavor. Calamansi also makes the best limeade in the world — no, the universe! You can find a frozen limeade concentrate from the Philippines in some Asian markets — availability is spotty on Oahu, even at Pacific Supermarket, a dedicated Philippine supermart. Surprisingly, it was regularly available at the military commissary when we lived in Germany, so if you have access to an Air Force commissary (Army ones didn’t always carry it), look in that frozen juice shelf more carefully.

Marvin at Burnt Lumpia is doing some interesting experiments of his own using calamansi, and hisinfused vodka inspired me to try my hand with my preferred poison (tequila, hold the worm) to make the ultimate limeade — a Calamansi Margarita. So after a long long long day of sorting, cleaning and packing, there’s nothing better than a cool margarita on the beach to help one de-stress… and be thankful.

Bee, I have one for you, too, if you’d care to join us… I’d offer Jai one as well, but I don’t want to be accused of bribing a judge!

(adapted from

2 oz. Cuervo 1800 Tequila
1 oz. fresh calamansi juice
splash Triple Sec
1 tsp. raw sugar
clear ice cubes
coarse salt and calamansi for garnish

Prep glass by rubbing rim with cut calamansi, then dipping edge in salt. Keep aside.

Go to beach. Set up your beach chair.

Shake all drink ingredients together. Fill glass with fresh ice. Pour cocktail into glass.

Enjoy with setting sun casting long shadows on Diamond Head in backdrop…

If you like these flavors, try Tequila & Calamansi Marinated Flank Steak