(Image courtesy Montreal Gazette)
Ah the margarita. No other drink that I know of ranges in quality as much as this little concoction of lime and tequila. Personally, I loathe–yes, you heard me, loathe–margaritas made with margarita mixes or sweet-and-sour mix instead of juice. Unfortunately, most Mexican restaurants serve the drink this way because it is cheaper and less time consuming than using fresh juice, so many people don’t even know what a good margarita is. This is a sad state of affairs.
A good margarita uses freshly squeezed juice, a decent quality tequila, some kind of triple sec, and is not blended. I don’t have anything against a blended margarita, but it’s a different animal than the mixed version of the drink. If you want a traditional margarita, skip the blender.
The best margarita I have ever had was made by my husband from sour oranges that grew in the backyard of an old house. As far as I can tell, the only purpose of sour oranges is to make good margaritas. Of course, traditional margaritas use all lime juice. I don’t like that so much–I like just a little bit of sweet in the drink, so I usually put a some orange juice in to even it out. But that’s just my thing. If you want to be traditional, use lime. The important issue here is that you use fresh juice that you squeezed yourself from the fruit. Trust me, it makes all the difference.
Also, if you can, use a good tequila. I’m no expert on this, but I have found that Patron, Don Julio, Don Eduardo, Chinaco, and Tres Generaciones are all decent tequilas.
And then there’s the triple sec, which is a kind of Curaçao, a liqueur made on the island of Curaçao from the dried peel of the laraha citrus fruit–a kind of a sour orange. (This is another reason why I think sour oranges make the perfect margarita.) Triple sec comes in different brands, Cointreau and Grand Marnier being two of the expensive ones. I don’t have a strong opinion about which kind of triple sec to use because I find that I can’t taste the difference between a margarita made with Grand Marnier and a margarita made with a generic triple sec. Some people care though: here’s a debate on the subject if you want to read more.
And here’s the recipe:
(Makes two small drinks or one big one)
- 3 oz good quality tequila
1 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz orange juice (or you can use 2 oz of lime juice)
1 oz triple sec
A slice of lime to garnish
Salt to rim glass (optional)
In a shaker, combine all the liquids. Shake thoroughly with ice. If you want, coat a margarita or martini glass with salt by pouring kosher salt onto a plate, wetting the rim of the glass, and dipping the glass in the salt. Strain the drink into the glass. Garnish with a slice of lime.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!