With spring just around the corner, it seemed appropriate to share a recipe for one of the most popular spring and summer cocktails – although the key ingredient might also be among the most misunderstood in American cocktails. Along with its close relative the Daiquiri, there are few drinks as abused in American drinking culture as the Margarita. I’m sure there are plenty of bars that serve great, authentic Margaritas, but the sickly sweet, blended drink that most people experience is a pale shadow of this classic drink.
Read below for the full recipe!
2 oz Tequila
1 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 Dash Agave Nectar or Simple Syrup
Combine all the ingredients, shake well with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and enjoy. This one is great straight up or on the rocks; garnish with a lime wedge. Salt the rim only if you like that sort of thing.
Here’s what you’ll get: a drink that is sweet but refreshingly tart, citrusy but deeply, richly vegetal from the agave-derived Tequila.
If you want a real Margarita, here’s what to avoid: blenders, sour mix, frozen limeade, and cheap mixto Tequila. Here’s what you absolutely must use: 100% agave Tequila. Many Americans have horror stories about Tequila and that one night in college, but most of these can be explained by a) drinking too much and b) drinking mixto, which is a headache-inducing mix of as little as 51% agave, sugar, and neutral spirits. Spend a little more for 100% agave and banish those bad memories forever.
Tequila is distilled from the agave plant and, by law, can only be made in the Mexican state of Jalisco (in this, it is like Champagne, Cognac, or Calvados). There are three basic types of Tequila: blanco or plata (white or silver), aged less than two months; reposado (rested), aged two months to just under a year; and añejo (aged), aged from one to three years or more. A white or silver Tequila will give you a much fresher, stronger taste of the agave, while an añejo is a much smoother, richer flavor. I love a good añejo in my Margarita, but this is really up to you.
Where did the Margarita come from? There are some stories out there about a Mexican bartender and the daughter of the German ambassador, or an actress allergic to every spirit but Tequila, or… well, or the typical myths that surround the origins of every great classic cocktail. Here’s what I think: the Margarita probably dates back to Prohibition, when Americans desperate for a good drink went south of the border and started ordering cocktails with Tequila for the first time in large numbers. The Margarita closely resembles the venerable Sidecar family of drinks, which match a spirit, a citrus, and an orange liqueur; it also closely resembles the older Tequila Daisy, which pairs Tequila with lime, grenadine, and club soda. Conveniently enough, Margarita is Spanish for daisy. Hmm….
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper