Unlike Belly, please drink responsibly.
In Elite Daily's I Tried series, we put products, recipes, and routines from the entertainment world to the test to show you what living like your fave celeb/character would really be like. In this piece, we taste-test the pomegranate margaritas from Prime Video’s The Summer I Turned Pretty.
Jenny Han’s book The Summer I Turned Pretty was meant for a younger audience when she published it in 2009, but the 2022 Prime Video adaptation is definitely more grown up, featuring saucier storylines for the teens and fleshed-out arcs for the moms. Case in point: the frozen pomegranate margarita that I absolutely salivated over the moment it showed up in Episode 4. Not only does it help symbolize Belly’s (Lola Tung) coming of age that summer, but it also provides some on-point adult beverage inspo for those who are old enough to drink it. Naturally, I had to try it for myself.
In The Summer I Turned Pretty, Belly is working through the growing pains of adolescence, in that particularly rough period from age 15 to 16, just before you’re really treated like a young adult but you still deal with all the problems that come with being older. In both the book and the show, Belly is stuck in a love triangle between two brothers, Conrad (Christopher Briney) and Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno), while also dodging the attention of her mom, Laurel (Jackie Chung), Laurel’s bestie, Beck (Rachel Blanchard). In the show, though, Belly copes with these stresses in a bit more of a grown-up way — or, at least, she tries to.
In Episode 4, when the group is celebrating the Fourth of July, Belly’s dad’s much younger girlfriend, Victoria, makes frozen pomegranate margaritas for the adults. After Belly lies her way into trying a sip, Victoria tells Belly her story of learning to make them in Marfa, Texas. As soon as she’s gone, Conrad, Jeremiah, and Belly start whipping up their own margaritas, with a teen-friendly twist: Kool-Aid powder.
These bright pink drinks get Belly more than a little tipsy, and she causes mayhem at the cookout. (See: Belly accidentally pushing Beck down the stairs and almost ruining Steven’s budding relationship with Minnie Mills’s Shayla). However, since I am of legal drinking age and have learned with experience how to pace myself, I wasn’t worried about repeating her messy antics. In fact, I’m such a sucker for sweet, festive drinks, I knew I had to try the Belly version of a frozen pomegranate marg ASAP.
(BTW, if non-alcoholic margs are more your vibe, there’s also a great recipe for an NA version inspired by The Summer I Turned Pretty.)
Here’s how it went for me:
Shopping & Prep
While preparing, I found a helpful TikTok video from @recipes.foryouu based on the show’s version of the pomegranate margarita that helped me compile all the ingredients I needed. From there, I set out to get all my supplies.
I live in New York City, which makes finding global delicacies like Tibetan dumplings and every kind of bubble tea super easy. But it can also make finding super-basic items surprisingly difficult. A key ingredient in Belly’s version of the pomegranate margarita is Kool-Aid powder — or at least a knockoff version of the stuff — but no Target, bodega, or grocery store near me had this nostalgic drink powder stocked. Instead, I had to settle for the liquid version of cherry Kool-Aid for this taste test.
Still, I felt pretty confident that the flavor would remain essentially the same, and might actually be better not dealing with the gritty texture of powdered Kool-Aid.
I picked up pomegranate juice, limes, and the liquid Kool-Aid at Target, then swung by a local liquor store for the tequila. Typically, margaritas include triple sec, an orange liqueur, but it doesn’t seem like Belly and her beaus used any in the show. Because I’m thorough, I decided to make one round of margs with triple sec and one without, just to see which was better.
Here’s my full ingredients list:
- Pomegranate juice
- Liquid cherry Kool-Aid
- Triple sec
Making The Margs
Once I got down to it, I realized I would need a recipe with actual measurements to help guide me. For that, I turned to a recipe by Archana’s Kitchen, except, because I was using a small blender, I halved all the measurements.
Then it was time to get down to business. I started by rimming my glasses with the juice from a slice of lime and then dipping them in a plate of salt. I had never rimmed a glass before, so I found a tutorial to help me through it. It was actually very fun to do, and I’ll be incorporating it into my drink-making repertoire from now on.
As with any recipe, use what you have — I had martini glasses instead of the fun, huge margarita glasses that Belly used, and I just used table salt rather than splurging on legit margarita salt. The effect was still pretty cool!
Once the prep was done, I put the lime juice, pomegranate juice, tequila, triple sec, and Kool-Aid into the blender. Squeezing the liquid Kool-Aid into the blender was one of my favorite parts of the whole process — it felt nostalgic and wild to be squeezing tons of Kool-Aid into a margarita — even though I made the rookie mistake of putting all the liquid in before the ice and then splashed myself in the process of adding said ice. Because Belly was just making up the recipe as she went along, there’s no official measurement for the amount of Kool-Aid to include, but seeing her heaping scoop, I went with my heart when deciding how much liquid Kool-Aid to include.
My last step, of course, was to blend. I don’t ever drink pomegranate juice (which could have something to do with the fact that one bottle costs $13), so I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful the color was when everything blended together.
I then repeated the process, except this time, without the triple sec. When all was said and done, I ended up with enough margarita to fill four martini glasses (two with triple sec, two without) up to the brim. So, I called in my roommate to help me drink my concoction as I prepared my 22-year-old taste buds for this 15-year-old’s dream drink.
The Taste Test
Upon my first sip, the Kool-Aid flavor slapped me right in the face — although the salt on the rim and lime juice really helped to cut the sweetness. But once I was mentally prepared for just how sugary the drink tasted, each sip got a little better. I loved that the drink was frozen because it was giving slushie vibes, rather than just a way-too-sweet cocktail. My roommate agreed, saying the marg tasted like something you’d drink as a kid on a really hot day. It makes a ton of sense that Belly was able to slurp down so many down so fast.
I will say, you should put more ice in the blender than you think you need — the drinks started to melt quickly and became even sweeter when the slush was gone. Also, beware this is quite a messy, sticky beverage — I accidentally spilled some as I was pouring, which made the counter and my hands bright pink and sticky. Even a couple hours after I made the margs, my roommate and I were finding pink splotches on the floor and counters.
TBH, because the Kool-Aid flavor is pretty overpowering, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the marg with triple sec and the marg without it. To make it easier on yourself, go the Belly way and skip including triple sec, since it didn’t really make a difference.
For the full effect while making and drinking this sugar bomb, I highly recommend listening to the show’s soundtrack at the same time — it tastes way better with “Lover” by Taylor Swift in the background. And although this wasn’t my favorite take on a margarita, with some tweaks, like less Kool-Aid and more lime to offset the sweetness, I could really be into it.
I probably won’t be reaching for this cocktail in the near future, but this recipe is the perfect metaphor for Belly’s struggles as a young girl trying to grow up and take control of her life, while still feeling like a child. Kudos to The Summer I Turned Pretty team for saying so much with just one too-sweet cocktail.