Forget a Stressful Week With A Fresh Margarita!
Greetings, Wonketteers! I'm Hooper, your bartender. Let's cut to the chase. Some of y'all are in Portland. It's so hot out there you might very well be on fire. Have some refreshment. I'm giving you a classic margarita, with options. Let's get cracking.
Top Shelf Margarita
2.5 oz blanco tequila
.5 oz. Cointreau
.5 oz agave syrup
1 oz fresh lime juice
Sprinkle of sea salt
Shake all ingredients over ice. Pour into a glass with a ½ sea salt rim. Garnish with a lime wedge.
The margarita's a classic drink, right up there with the daiquiri and the old fashioned. It's a simple cocktail that uses a few ingredients to season their base spirit. A little lime and salt in your tequila is like salt and pepper on your steak. You have to use a top-notch tequila to build a really good margarita. There are a lot of glasses of salty lemonade out there pretending to be margaritas, but trust me, the real deal is a different animal.
I know, I know, tequila gives you a headache. I'll keep insisting on this: Headaches and misery come from bad tequila. Jose Cuervo is Satan's armpit squeezings. Tequila doesn't give you a headache. Horrible things added to tequila give you a headache. Tequila's just as sophisticated as bourbon these days – it's smooth and smoky and sweet and funky, and you really really ought to give it a second chance. Get a bottle of something good, like Cazadores or Olmeca Altec Plata, and you'll sleep like a baby, I promise.
On to the ingredients!
Ingredient shot. What? It's sea salt, I swear!Matthew Hooper
Tequila: This is the heart and soul of the drink, and you shouldn't cut corners. I'm using Olmeca Altec Plata this time around, but Cazadores is another brand I'd recommend in a heartbeat. We use Exotico at the bar, and it's a great blanco tequila as well. Shop around. Experiment. Fall in love with tequila, it's a fun hobby.
Cointreau: I really like the good stuff in my margarita. It's hideously expensive, but triple sec just doesn't cut it. Cointreau has a roundness and thickness cheap triple sec just can't provide. Tequila gets better with a firm platform to stand on.
That being said, there's definitely room for experimentation. I use a dry curacao along with reposado tequila for a funkier, drier margarita. (A little squeeze of fresh orange juice is a boss move here.) Some hardcore purists say you don't need the Cointreau at all – just tequila, lime, salt, and sugar. if you're using a really expensive tequila, I think that would be the right play.
Agave Syrup: This absolutely takes a margarita to the next level. Agave syrup sweetens the margarita while emphasizing the tequila funkiness in the cocktail because, well, it's the same stuff – tequila comes from the roasted, fermented agave plant. Agave syrup is popular as a sugar alternative; you can find in most grocery stores these days. Amazon has some good choices as well.
Fresh Lime Juice: Another key element. If you're scaling up and making a pitcher of margaritas, a squeeze bottle's acceptable – no one wants to juice a dozen limes. But if you're only making one… or a couple, it's been a really hot week … fresh lime juice is key. I use this gadget to squeeze my limes, but I'll use a wooden citrus reamer in a pinch.
Sea Salt: Even if you don't salt the rim, tequila loves a touch of salt. A tiny amount goes a long way; you're seasoning the tequila, not making it "salty." Use sea salt. The iodine in table salt doesn't do you any favors. A tiny pinch is more than enough.
Prepping the glass: I've got a lot of new waitresses at the bar. Generally, they forget to ask customers if they want a salted rim on their margarita glass. I salt half the rim to sidestep the question. Keep it simple. Line a plate with a little salt, run a cut lime over the glass rim, and roll the lip of the glass in the salt at a 45 degree angle. Easy peasy. No need to put fresh ice in the glass, just dump and drink.
There are a ton of variations on this you can try. If you're using agave syrup, you can make a "clean," non-alcoholic margarita that's still terrific. I'd add extra fruit. Start with a squeeze of fresh orange juice. The more fresh fruit, the better – a little lemon, maybe muddle in some strawberries or blueberries. Any fresh fruit takes to tequila like a weak soul to sin. The margarita is a classic. Like any great classic, you can remake, riff, and tinker with the recipe to your heart's content.
In summary and conclusion, drink well, drink often, drink with a friend.
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Also, if you want to buy good agave syrup, or a lime squeezer, or a really fancy frozen margarita machine because it's hotter than heck, please click on the Amazon link here.