Those of us in the US tend to forget that, like our own, Mexico is a country of united states — 31 in all. The Mexican state that we’re living in is Jalisco. Among other things, Jalisco is where the blue agave plant (above) is grown, and the sweet syrup from the agave is used to make tequila.
Consequently, I have again taken it upon myself to pursue a recipe for The Perfect Margarita. Research for this project has spanned decades (and continents) and has only now succeeded in bearing fruit. The research has been grueling work, but I am now at peace.
In its essence (and, to my mind, at its best) a margarita consists of only three ingredients: tequila (of course), something sweet, and something sour. Salt is optional.
The tequila need not be expensive. There are plenty of great tequilas, but they’re best sampled neat — savored and praised. If you’re going to mix your tequila for a margarita, look for a bulk brew that’s on sale. Get a name you trust, of course, but be thrifty. Here in Jalisco, a bottle of Jose Cuervo is about eight bucks. It’s reliable and it’s Margarita’s best friend. (Store it in the freezer: it won’t freeze.)
I prefer a citrus base for both sweet and sour. For sour, squeeze or muddle a couple of fresh limes (or a lemon — your preference). Juice in a container will do if the fruit isn’t available, but no sweeteners!
The sweet ingredient is the tough one. In the US I usually used triple sec, which is a liqueur made from orange peels that has been distilled, as the name says, three times. I’ve tried Curacao, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier, but they each seem to overwhelm the drink (and they’re expensive), so triple sec it is.
In Spain, Louise discovered a spectacular orange liqueur in a tall, Galliano-like bottle. It was dark orange in color, made from local Valencia oranges, and surprisingly inexpensive, given the fancy bottle and its exquisite taste. It was Heaven in a bottle, but it was also strictly local, so it makes little difference that I’ve forgotten its name.
Here in Mexico I have discovered Controy, an orange liqueur (“licor de aranja”) that’s as close to that Spanish Heaven as one can hope for. It’s tasty without an attitude, plentiful, and inexpensive. (Perhaps you’ve noticed: I’m fond of inexpensive.)
The ratio of these three ingredients is up to you. Start with an equal amount of each, pour them over ice (please, please do not blend), and have a sip. Do you adore tequila? You may want to add a bit more of that. Too sweet? Too sour? Adjust. Sipping and adjusting is a noble pursuit. It can take all night.
The issue of the salted rim is not just a personal preference, but a preference that may be based on the weather, your mood, and whether Mercury is in retrograde. It’s a bit like sex: you’ll know when you want it.
There you have it: years of research condensed into five hundred words. I have encouraged experimentation, you’ll note, and I hope you devote plenty of time to that. It’s a worthy cause.
Altho I don’t drink margarita’s I might have to try yours, especially while in Mexico with you! PS I hear adding a beer to margarita gives it a great taste!
Now there’s a thought: put beer in a margarita. Now I’m taking alcoholic-beverage advice from my child! (You know you’re getting old when…)
Len Quaranto said:
The Mexicans also like to drink tequila neat (and here you will need to get a GOOD tequila like Sauza Hornitos etc) along with spicy tomato juice , both in a shot glass SEPARATELY. It is tequila with a Virgin Bloody Mary chaser. So, along with your perfect Margaritia (which sounds right to me, spoken as an ex-Clydes bartender) I recommend you also try the tequila drink above. Salud, Amor y Pesetas y el Tiempo para gustarlos!!
Wow. Affirmation from a Clyde’s bartender! I am honored.
Hmmmm…. I wonder if I could combine the suggestions in both the comments above and pour some beer into that tomato juice….?
Didn’t know you were at Clydes – probably saw you when I was there with the polo team in ’67. Had my first Dom Perignon ’59 in Clydes. You were so perfect on describing the Margarita that I could almost taste it. Made me want to go out and buy the fixins (as they say in Kansas).
Linda, that was Len who was at Clyde’s behind the bar. I wudda been on the other side, especially if you were sharing that Dom.
must be on the rocks and must have salt…..!!!!!! and served by a pool is the best….
In a recent issue, a local magazine interviewed a tequila maker who said that salt, although it eases the rush of alcohol on the tongue, also deadens the ability to taste the fruit — and recommends against it. But really: can’t we all just get along? 🙂
kappy lundy said:
Well, personally, I’ll take my margarita in an iced pitcher with two best friends…
when they are in town.
Save some for me Amigos.
Pouring the pitcher now. We’ll keep it on ice until you get here.