Margaritas, when made with a modicum of skill and care, are just about the greatest drink in the world. Tragically, so many pre-made mixes, throw-as-you-go recipes and second-rate Tex Mex establishments have done such a disservice to this classic cocktail that a lot of folks think the margarita is supposed to taste disgustinlgy sweet, look artificially green or yellow and come directly from a revolve-y freeze-y thing looking like a technicolor dog pile in a funny-shaped glass. I make margaritas three ways, depending on my mood, to whom I’m serving them and how much time I have.
The first and fastest is the traditional method. Tequila, Cointreau & lime juice, shaker, ice, done. Easy to make for one or twenty-one, this is a fantastic drink. A word about tequila: I pretty much use Hornitos Reposado as my go-to tequila, though some purists call for silver or blanco tequila in the margartia. Whatever you choose, make sure its 100% agave.
The Traditional Margarita
- 1.5 oz Tequila
- 3/4 oz lime juice (fresh squeezed, natch. Those yellow hand squeezers are the best)
- 1 oz Cointreau (you can substitute triple sec here if you like. Hiram Walker is pretty good and you can buy four bottles of it for every bottle of Cointreau, but Cointreau is traditional and dryer in flavor)
- 1 tsp or more agave syrup, to taste (optional. I don’t use it, but if you like a sweeter drink, by all means add some)
Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. You can rim the glass with salt if you’re so inclined. I never am. Garnish with a lime twist or slice. Play with the proportions until you reach the flavor that most suits you.
The Advanced, Focus-Group-Tested but Crazy Good, Pain-in-the-A$$-to-Make Margarita
The second margarita I enjoy is from the good folks at America’s Test Kitchen. The recipe is part of their pay-site and I’m a bit leary of posting it here. However, I’m not above linking to someone else who’s already posted it so here you go. This is undoubtedly delicious and complex. Unfortunately, it takes about a year and half to make. If you can plan ahead, this is the ideal margarita for a small party of 4 or 6 guests, on the patio with the grill going. It was the hands-down winner in the margarita contest at my dear friend Ladybird’s annual Avocado and Tequila Bash.
The third margarita I make with alarming regularity is adapted from Amy Sedaris’s fantastic book, I Like You. On its face, its everything I don’t like in a margarita: artificial, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and blendy. The beer in this mitigates the frozen margarita mix making the drink ridiculously mellow and subtle, its teh awesome and a favorite.
The Long Neck Rita
- One 10-oz can frozen margarita mix (Bacardi’s preferred)
- 1/2 can tequila (any will do; I’m working my way through a huge bottle of El Jimador from Costco. Vile in most applications it…well, I wouldn’t say it shines, but it’s perfectly servicable here.)
- 1/4 can Cointreau or triple sec
- 1 bottle Miller Chill (or any sort of American-style lager, I suppose)
Mix these in pichter or jar. In batches and in a blender, blend with enough ice to make slushy but so much that it becomes granita-like. This will make at least six good-sized glasses of numminess. Enjoy on the porch with your feet on the railing. Or in your chair in front of the television watching Buffy DVDs like I did yesterday afternoon.