In Elite Daily's I Tried series, we put products, recipes, and routines from the entertainment industry to the test to demonstrate how to live life as your favorite celebrity/character in Prime VideosThe Summer I Turned Pretty.
The Summer I Turned Pretty, by Jenny Hans, was intended for a younger audience when she first published it in 2009, but the 2022 Prime Video adaptation is far more mature, with funnier narratives for the teens and fleshed-out arcs for the mothers. So here's why I had to try it for myself.
Belly is coping with the growing pains of adolescence in that special time between 15 and 16 when you're actually treated as a young adult, but you still have to deal with all of the challenges that come with becoming an adult. In the book, though, she is unable to, and at least she refuses to, to deal with them.
Belly's father's much younger girlfriend, Victoria, makes frozen pomegranate margaritas for the adults in Episode 4, which is a celebration of the Fourth of July. Victoria tells Belly her story of learning to make them in Marfa, Texas, and Conrad, Jeremiah, and Belly begin making their own margaritas, with a teen-friendly twist: Kool-Aid powder.
Belly is more than a bit sluggish during the cookout, and she causes havoc at the table. (See: Beck accidentally shoving Beck down the stairs, almost ruining Stevens' budding relationship with Minnie Millss Shayla) However, since I am legal drinking age and have learned to pace myself, I was wary about repeating her nasty remarks. In fact, I am a sucker for sweet, seasonal drinks that must be tried ASAP.
(BTW, there's also a fantastic recipe for an NA version inspired by The Summer I Turned Pretty.)
Here's how it all went for me:
Shopping & Prep
I grew up in New York City, which makes getting to know international delicacies like Tibetan dumplings and any kind of bubble tea relatively easy. However, it can also make locating super-basic items quite difficult. For this taste test, no Target, bodega, or grocery store near me stocked this nostalgic drink powder.
Despite this, I was pretty sure that the flavor would remain essentially the same, and that it might actually be better to avoid the harsh taste of powdered Kool-Aid.
I picked up some pomegranate juice and limes from Target, and then went to a local liquor store for the tequila. Usually, margaritas include triple sec, but it does appear that Belly and her beaus used any in the show. I made one round of margs with triple sec and one without, just to see which was better.
My complete ingredient list is given here:
Margs: Making Them
I realized that I would require a recipe with actual measurements to help guide me through the process. Except, because I was using a small blender, I half-measured everything.
After that, 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.It was really fun to do, and I will continue to incorporate it into my drinkmaking repertoire.
Use what you have. I used martini glasses instead of the fun, huge margarita glasses that Belly used, and I just used table salt rather than genuine margarita salt. The result was still quite cool!
When the preparation was done, I added the lime juice, pomegranate juice, triple sec, and Kool-Aid to the blender. It was so enticing and wild to be squeezing tons of Kool-Aid into a margarita, even though I made the rookie mistake of pouring all the liquid in before the ice and then splashing myself in the process of adding the ice. However, seeing Belly's heaping scoop, I decided on
My last step was to combine. I rarely drink pomegranate juice (which might be to do with the fact that one bottle costs $13), but I was surprised by how beautiful the color was when everything was 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) to the brim. So, I called in my roommate to help me prepare my 22-year-old taste buds for this 15-year-olds' dream beverage.
The Taste Test
The Kool-Aid flavor slapped me in the face, although the salt on the rim and lime juice really helped to keep the sweetness down. My roommate agreed, stating that the marg tasted like something you would drink as a kid on a really hot day.
Although I will say, it's best to add more ice to the blender than you'll need. The drinks started to melt rapidly and became even more slushy when the slush was gone. My desk and hands became red and sticky when I accidentally spilled some. Even a few hours after I made the margs, my roommate and I noticed pink spots on the floor and counters.
TBH, because the Kool-Aid flavor is rather overpowering, I couldnt really tell the difference between the triple sec marg and the marg without it. Go the Belly route and skip including triple sec since it didnt make any difference.
With a few tweaks, like less Kool-Aid and more lime to help you enjoy this sugar bomb, I highly recommend listening to the show's soundtrack at the same time it tastes much better with Lover by Taylor Swift in the background.
This cocktail is a great metaphor for Belly's struggles as a young girl trying to grow up and control her life while still feeling like a kid. Kudos to the Summer I Turned Pretty team for saying so much in just one too-sweet cocktail.
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