The Margarita may well be the most popular cocktail in the world, but it is also one of the most abused and bastardised around today. Most bars and restaurants feature it on their menu, but the chances of getting anything resembling a true Margarita are slim-to-none. Whether it is made in a blender with ice, or simply some powdered sour-mix added to tequila, the drink you order is likely to be a pretty poor approximation of a decent cocktail.
Which is a real shame as, made right, the Margarita is a delicious cocktail and a great showcase for tequila. A variety of bartenders claim to have invented the drink, but whoever came up with it likely did so during the 1930s. While its inventor is unclear, its origins as a member of the sour family are obvious. With a base spirit of tequila, a sweetening agent of orange liqueur, and lime providing the sour component it may seem a simple drink, but looks can be deceiving.
Like any sour, the exact ratio between the different ingredients can be adjusted to suit your own preferences. I typically like my sours more on the sour side, but for me the Margarita is perfect at a tequila:orange liqueur:lime ratio of 3:2:1. While sweeter than some sours, I find this recipe really helps bring out the flavours of all three ingredients.
- 1½ shots / 45 ml / 1½ oz tequila
- 1 shot / 30 ml / 1 oz orange liqueur
- ½ shot / 15 ml / ½ oz lime juice
- Shake all ingredients well with ice and fine strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and salt glass rim if desired.
Once you’ve decided what ratio you are using there are two other choices to be made when making a Margarita. The type of tequila you use can affect the flavour of the drink quite a bit. Blanco tequila is the most common, but some prefer to use a lightly-aged reposado or even an añejo. For me a decent blanco, El Tesoro being my current favourite, works best but whichever type you choose try to find a decent 100% agave bottling.
Finally, there is the question of whether to salt the rim. My preference on this varies but generally I think the drink works just great without any extra salt. A good middle-ground is to salt only half the rim, leaving the choice up to the drinker, but however much of the rim you do salt make sure it stays on the outside of the glass. Otherwise after a few sips you’re going to end up with a very salty drink.
Despite the basic recipe, the Margarita provides a wonderful mixture of flavours. The spicey, earthy features of the tequila, the sweet and zesty notes from the orange liqueur and the zing from the lime all come together to remind you exactly what a good cocktail is all about. If you’ve only even had a frozen Margarita, or your only experience of tequila involves shot glasses, give this a go and see what tequila is really all about.
Not sure which orange liqueur to use for your Margarita? Check back next week for the final round-ups of The Great(ly delayed) Oh Gosh! Orange Liqueur Showdown…
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