The world of tequila is as complex as the rest of the spirits world. Once you get into it, you’ll be talking about your favorite blancos, reposados, and añejos without skipping a beat. If you’re new to tequila, though, this can all be a bit overwhelming.
There are various tales of how the margarita came to be, but one of those stories involves a recipe of equal parts. This, we will consider to be the original margarita and tweak it ever so slightly for sweetness.
- Kosher or coarse sea salt
- 1½ ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1½ ounces 100% blue agave tequila
- 1½ ounces Cointreau
- ¼ ounce agave nectar or simple syrup (optional)
Start by rimming your glass. Fill a saucer (or plate) with a good amount of salt. Cut a lime in half, and use it to moisten the outside edge of the glass. Then, with the glass tilted slightly downward, twist the glass through the salt, making sure you have a nice even layer of salt around the outside of the rim.
With your glass prepared, it’s time to mix the drink. First things first… fresh lime juice. That means that you squeeze the juice yourself. Don’t worry, it’s not hard. You can squeeze by hand or invest in a good citrus juicer. Fresh juice makes a world of difference, and it’s amazing that more bars don’t squeeze citrus on the spot for their drinks. Each lime will yield about an ounce of juice, so you’ll use about one and a half limes per drink. Also, there’s a trick to juicing limes — don’t refrigerate them. You’ll get more juice out of a room temperature lime than you will from one that’s chilled.
With your ingredients ready, you’re just a quick mix and pour away. Add a generous amount of ice to a cocktail shaker (small pieces of ice are better). Add the lime juice, tequila, Cointreau, and agave nectar. Shake for about 20 seconds. Strain and serve.
There’s a good amount of room for flexibility here as well. Play around with the tequila — choose anything from a blanco to an añejo, but stick to 100% agave. I generally use blancos and reposados. You can also consider using Key limes instead of Persian limes, but note that they ripen to yellow. Try substituting a different orange liquor or skipping the extra sweetness of the agave. The ratio can also be tweaked depending on your tastes. Many margaritas will be a bit more heavy on the tequila. If you’re making a drink for a friend who loves the sweetness of restaurant style margaritas, use ½ an ounce of simple syrup to kick up the sweetness a bit.
This is a really fantastic cocktail that’s easy to make. These days, you’re likely to find me with a margarita in my hand. And when you don’t, I’ll probably be sipping some lime flavored carbonated water. Because in the end, it’s all about the lime.