|Margarita. © Ryan Schierling|
"Please, please, do not resort to using any of those unnaturally green bottled mixers for your margaritas."
As with innumerable foods these days, many people have been conditioned to believe the margarita is some complicated formula of lime, syrups, and exotic citrus spirits, so they simply give in and buy a bottle of fluorescent green lime-flavored high-fructose corn syrup labeled as 'margarita mix' because it seems foolproof and understandable. This breaks my heart.
I don't remember the first time I tried a margarita, but I do remember that it was enough to have me proclaim for some years that I did not like them. Then, one fine summer day over lunch, a friend insisted I would love this margarita. Refreshing and not cloyingly sweet – it was wonderful. I suspect my earlier experience had been an unfortunate run-in with a cheap margarita mix.
While some prefer blended margaritas, as far as I'm concerned they are far too involved for an impromptu summer social with friends. Moreover, 'brain freeze' is just not the cocktail experience I seek. For these reasons I side squarely with the "rocks / salt" crowd and use this super simple method to make them.
These are the essentials to have on hand:
8 oz. lowball glass
Fresh lime - cut in wedges
Kosher salt - (this should be a pantry staple anyway)
Tequila - go with what you like or can afford, either gold or silver. Sauza seems to be a good starting choice for mixed drinks.
Limeade - Simply Limeade and Odwalla "Summertime Lime" are both very good and are sweetened with real sugar!
It goes together in this order:
Pour a layer of kosher salt on a small plate.
Wet the rim of the glass with a slice of lime.
Turn the glass upside-down onto the plate of salt to get that delicious salted rim.
Fill the glass with ice.
Squeeze a wedge of fresh lime into the glass.
Pour a shot of tequila over the ice.
Throw in a fresh slice of lime and fill the rest of the glass with limeade.
Okay. All done. Cheers!
Did you notice the glaring absence of Triple Sec? While it may function as the traditional sweetener for this drink, I don't mind passing on sweet liqueurs which can be a sticky, sugary mess. Limeade is sweetened enough to work as an all-in-one substitute for the typical "lime juice and triple sec" formula, and although it may not have the more complex orange/citrus flavors, it delivers splendidly on summer flavor and refreshment.
If you want to make a fuss over it, go ahead! Add a splash of citrus liqueur like Triple Sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier, but don't sweat it, and adjust to personal taste.
When the outdoor temperature in Austin is cranking its way toward 100 degrees... rocks, salt and lime.