Friday’s cocktail hour celebrates not simply a classic, but a cocktail that has been horribly debased even during its relatively short life span. Of unverified origins, the Margarita seems to have come into play in the 1940s.
But since then, America has trashed it. Served in pitchers of ice. Countless inane variations. Dispensed slushy out of spigots at bad tiki bars. Who invented the frozen margarita? Does anyone know? If drinks were for kids, I’d say, go to town, but adults drinking frozen margaritas, well, I think they’re embracing their inner Popsicle-loving six-year-old (and would be better off with a Popsicle in the afternoon, followed by a cocktail in the evening).
We’ve been on a tequila run these past few weeks after our return from Canyon country and will finish here with a classic Margarita, defiantly unslushy, defiantly iceless. The Margarita, neat, goddamit.
You can use these same proportions over ice and it’s superb, of course, but during these hot days I want to be able to taste the tequila throughout, not watered down with each successive sip. The Paloma is refreshing and is meant to be served with ice. The Margarita can be enjoyed either way.
You can go the generic triple sec route, but Cointreau orange liqueur is best. Some prefer Grand Marnier. Key limes are often used but can be overly tart. This is basically a "sour," like a whiskey sour only using tequila, and no egg white, though you could certainly throw one in there if you wanted to call it lunch!
I eat plenty of salt as it is and don’t like it straight off the rim of a glass, stinging the corners of my mouth. But there’s something about tequila that loves salt, so if you wish, add a pinch, sea salt if you have it. My friend Paulius even likes a little chilli powder thrown in there.
The optimal ratio is 3 - 1.5 - 1, tequila, orange liquer, lime juice.
This is a true Margarita.
The Margarita, Neat
- 90 grams silver tequila (3 ounces)
- 45 grams Cointreau (1.5 ounces)
- 30 grams lime juice (1 ounce)
- pinch of sea salt (optional)
- disk of lime for garnish (optional)
- Combine the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and salt (if using) in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass.
- Stir for 90 seconds or so. Strain into a martini glass that’s been in the freezer for hours or days.
- Garnish with lime.
This will serve two, but I guarantee you’ll want another.
If you liked this post on the Margarita, check out these other links:
- My post on making Mojitos.
- Foodimentary has several origins of the margarita.
- Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill in Chicago has some pretty stellar margaritas, here are some of his cocktail recipes.
- The history of the Slushie and that the Slush Puppie is originally from Ohio.
© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.