In case you haven’t got it marked in your calendar, tomorrow is one of the best cocktail holidays on the planet. Yep, you guessed it, it’s Margarita Day! So if you are anything like us, you’ll spend the day with Tequila in one hand and Cointreau in the other.
Now, while the Margarita may be one of the world’s most popular cocktails, the drink’s origin story is a little tangled. What we do know is that this Mexican beauty, came into being in the 1930s or 1940, but the first mention in print of a Margarita cocktail is in the December 1953 issue of Esquire magazine.
Now, while you could easily argue (quite rightfully) that the Margarita is simply a tequila Sidecar (with lime instead of lemon), the various stories of its birth are as vibrant as the drink itself.
While we’ve explored the various versions of this cocktail’s history before, today we want to return to the present and make some suggestions to help you ‘up your Margarita game’.
So let’s break this racy ‘rita down and go through each ingredient and see how they should each be used.
Use A Good Quality Tequila
It doesn’t matter what cocktail you are making, we would always encourage you to use good quality spirits as your base. With drinks like the Margarita, which has so few ingredients, this point of particular importance.
The main rule to keep in mind is that you should always use a tequila that is 100 percent blue agave. And don’t let the price fool you, Tequila is one of those spirits where price doesn’t dictate quality. Lastly (and we shouldn’t have to tell you this) but never (we repeat. never) buy an agave spirit that contains a worm.
Don’t Be Limited To Blanco Tequila
While a Blanco Tequila is the traditional expression used to make a margarita, as it gives a true agave flavour, it is not the only choice. Reposado, which is a Tequila that has been aged for between two months and a year in oak barrels, can also make a good choice. Although you can use an Añejo and Extra Añejo, we wouldn’t recommend it, as it is often a little too refined to mix with citrus.
While not all Mezcals are Tequila, all Tequilas are Mezcal, so don’t feel you can’t use a good quality Mezcal to give this classic a splash of smokiness.
The Orange Liqueur
It’s hard to argue that the thing that makes a Margarita such a classic is the use of Orange Liqueur, but as we were saying earlier with the Tequila, quality is the key here as well. You don’t want a cheap orange liqueur or triple sec. Instead, we recommend that you use Cointreau to achieve the right balance in your drink.
Loosen Up Your Limes
Now we’re not going to state the obvious and remind you that fresh is always best, but we will give you a tip about ageing your lime juice a little. If you want to remove some of the harsh acidity of Lime Juice, then squeeze them a couple of hours before you intend to use them.
Ageing the juice for even a couple of hours will give it a more mellow taste, allowing the top notes to pop a little more. But keep in mind that longer isn’t necessarily better. After 10 hours, the juice will lose some of its aromas, and after a day, there is a noticeable and unpleasant bitterness.
Adding a little simple syrup to your Margarita recipe can improve the mouthfeel of the drink. than for sweetness. While it can, of course, be made without it, expect the result to be a little less bright and taste a little thinner than with it.
If you would prefer, simple syrup can easily be replaced with more complex sweeteners such as Agave Nectar, Molasses, or Honey. Just remember, if you go this route, use less than you would use of the simple syrup and if you can dilute it a little in warm water to improve the mixability.
Fruits, Herbs & Spices
Many bars and restaurants put their own spin on the drink by adding a variety of fruits, herbs, and spices. After all, it’s an easy way to give the drink a signature flavour. Some favourites to add are Passionfruit, Mango puree, and just about any kind of berry. You can also add a few pieces of watermelon to your shaker, which works beautifully.
If you want to give your Margarita some heat, then skip the incendiary Habanero, and instead opt for the less fiery Jalapeno. No matter which hot pepper you choose, remember that the skin will give you more of a vegetal flavour, while the seeds will give you more heat.
Upgrade Your Salt Game
The classic recipe is great, so how can you improve it, while still keeping it classic? Upgrade your salt game! You can easily create a salt mix, using Lemongrass, Lime, Cactus or any other spice, to create another layer of flavour, while also maintaining balance.
If you choose to make a Mezcal Margarita, why not take the opportunity to try Worm Salt for a more spicy take on the original.
La Classica Margarita
- 1.5oz Blanco Tequila
- 0.75oz Cointreau
- 0.75oz Lime Juice
- 0.2oz Sugar Syrup
- Lime wheel, for garnish
Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and pour unstrained into a salt-rimmed glass.
Garnish with a lime wheel.