Many people are now coming back home from their vacations at exotic or tropical locales and bringing with them a taste for the drinks they enjoyed while away. The archetypal summer vacation drink is, of course, the Margarita. The word Margarita in Latin means "pearl" and in Spanish means "Daisy flower". This cocktail, when made well, is a wonderfully refreshing blend of tequila, orange liquor, and freshly squeezed citrus juice - perfect for a summer's day by the pool. Although the Margarita can be found on almost every bar's cocktail list, the requested beverage can vary greatly in quality and style from establishment to establishment.
The Margarita has suffered greatly in today's "drive thru" style bar culture. In an effort to make it quick, trendy, and cheap it has been adulterated far worse then any cocktail before it. Indeed, some bars even have it available through their "post mix" gun along with the sodas and other mixers. Whether it is the use of incorrect or substandard ingredients, or commercial Margarita "mixes", a Margarita in most bars is a long way from the delicious cocktail it should be.
This article aims to right this wrong and communicate the clear message that a good Margarita is not a difficult feat. In fact, a true Margarita is made from just three ingredients - tequila, Cointreau and freshly squeezed lime juice. Like many cocktails, there is an art to determining the proper ratio of ingredients to present a balance of flavors. It is very easy to make an overly sweet or tart drink. While some drinks recipes extol using equal parts of the ingredients, through years of trial and error, I can confirm that the very best ratio for a delicious Margarita is 3:2:1 - three measures of good tequila, two measures of Cointreau or Triple Sec, and one measure of fresh lime juice (no Roses lime cordial thank you very much). Nothing else.
Tequila - as with many spirits, there are different types and levels of quality of tequila. "Blanco" tequila (also called "Silver" or "White") is bottled straight from the still and is the basic type of tequila. "Joven" or "Gold" tequila may have an amber or gold hue but is really just a Blanco tequila that has had coloring or a small amount of aged tequila added to it to make it look gold (like Cuervo Gold). "Reposado" and "Añejo" tequilas are generally the higher quality spirits and have been aged. A good silver/blanco or reposado tequila that is made from 100% agave will yield the best tasting margarita (look at the label to make sure it is pure agave). The smooth aged Añejo tequilas are wonderful to sip but are a little too rich to make a great Margarita.
The history of the Margarita is unclear. There are many reports of when and where it was invented. It seems it was created some time in the 1930's or '40s but there is no decisive evidence to ascertain to exact time or location. It may have been created in the early 1930's at the Caliente Race Track in Tijuana.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add 3 measures of good quality Reposado tequila (I like 1800 brand), 2 measures of Cointreau (or a good quality Triple Sec), and 1 measure of freshly squeezed lime juice. Roll the lime on a hard surface a couple of times before cutting and squeezing to help it release its juice. Shake vigorously and then strain into a chilled martini glass (novelty margarita glasses featuring cacti are not encouraged!). Some people like to salt their margarita glasses, to do this simply run a piece of lime around the rim of the glass then invert the glass and dip it into a saucer of course grain sea salt or kosher salt. Garnish with a wedge of fresh lime and enjoy.