Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Ideal Margarita (A Basic Recipe)

Memorial day is almost here, which means Margarita season is upon us.

There are as many Margarita recipes as there are opinions, it seems. However, I think the following works pretty well. It is a variation of the original Jimmy Buffet Perfect Margarita from the liner notes of his "Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads" box set.

2-1/2 oz. Sauza Hornitos Reposado Tequila
1-1/2 oz. Rose's Lime Juice
3/4 oz. Cointreau

Mix and pour over the rocks, or blend with ice.

I came up with this by making some substitutions to the original recipe. First, I only keep one type of tequila, so I just added an additional half-ounce of my regular tequila instead of the white tequila. I did not have any fresh lime at the time, so I added an additional half-ounce of Rose's. And I did not have any orange Curacao liqueur, so I increased the Cointreau by a quarter-ounce.

I found the solution worked, and could be used any time. Fresh lime is nice, but its not always around, and can be especially limiting if friends drop by. However, this recipe scales easily, and works well both on the rocks and in the blender.

Also, just as Jimmy was very brand-specific in his original recipe, so am I. However, my brand preferences differ. Hornitos Reposado is the best gold tequila, not over distilled like Patron (this is tequila, not vodka), and not destined to give you a headache like Jose Cuervo Especial, and personally, its better tasting than 1800 Reposado.

As for triple-sec, I prefer Cointreau. Most stuff liquor sold in stores today claiming to be triple-sec is not, so now we have real "orange liqueur", and rock-gut "triple-sec". And Cointreau is just better than Grand Marnier, the flavor of which reminds me of St. Joseph baby aspirin.

Now, assuming I have the time to get all of the ingredients, I will add that splash of orange Curacao liqueur. But like I said, I have my brand preferences. Bols liqueurs in the U.S. are cheap, mass-produced stuff just like the typical triple-secs. One high-quality orange Curacao liqueur I have found is Marie Brizard Orange Curacao which is made with French cognac as the alcohol base.

This recipe is sweeter than one using only fresh lime juice, so it is good to balance the sweet and sour by trading off fresh lime juice and Rose's. However, the sweetness and strength of this recipe make it perfect as a sipping drink, as it still has plenty of flavor as the ice melts.

One last trick. If you like Margaritas on the rocks, try using a blender with a few ice cubes added to mix a pitcher of these. The result is a super-chilled drink which will will not melt the ice cubes so quickly when poured into a glass. The effect is similar to using a cocktail shaker for a single drink.

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