From Jason Kindness at Main Street’s Kai Bar and Mixology 101 classes.
The Margarita is a cocktail that has stood the test of time for a reason.… It’s magnificent!
That fact is, however, that many fans of this tequila-based drink haven’t savored one that has been adequately prepared. For those of us who like to imbibe this treat, we know that every time we order, we are playing a game of roulette! Two major factors make the margarita a drink worth ordering. The first is tequila, the base, and the second is the sour mix or lime juice component.
Let’s start with the base spirit: Tequila is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant native to Mexico. For a long time, the tequilas showing up on store and bar shelves in the U.S. were not a true representation of the spirit itself. In fact, they were blends of the agave spirit with artificial ingredients and sweeteners that often led to quite a hangover (note: sugar and lack of hydration are the main culprits of the dreaded hangover). When choosing your tequila, I recommend that the label reads “100% de agave,” ensuring you’re getting the purest representation of tequila.
The next component of the recipe is the mix. Most U.S. bars use a product referred to as sour mix, which originated as an easy and cheaper alternative to fresh squeezed lime juice. Leave the artificial dyes and sweeteners to the other recipes and grab yourself a manual citrus juicer for this one. The few minutes it will take you to squeeze out a dozen or so limes will surely be worth it! Authentic lime juice is very tart, so balancing it with a sweet ingredient is important, but make sure it’s something that adds flavor and complements the fresh ingredients (orange liqueur or a triple sec).
Here is a recipe we like to use at Kai that is always a crowd pleaser:
- 2 oz Tequila (100% de agave)
- 1.5 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- .75 oz orange liqueur
- .25 oz agave nectar
- Fruit/flavor of choice (this time, a splash of Bols Black Raspberry Liqueur)
- Ice cubes
- Kosher salt for garnishing rim of drinking glass
- Salt the rim of your drinking glass. [Tip: Slice a lime into a wedge and cut a slit into the pulp. Put the slit lime on the rim of the glass and rotate the glass, wetting the entire edge with the juice from the lime. Add some kosher salt to a plate and dip the edge of the glass onto the salt, transferring it from the plate to the rim.]
- Pour a splash of flavored liqueur into the bottom of your salted drinking glass.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously with ice to chill.
- Strain the shaken ingredients into the drinking glass, THEN add new ice to reduce dilution as much as possible. [Tip: pouring the contents of the shaker onto the back of a spoon into the bottom of the drinking glass will help the ingredients from mixing straight away, and give you a gradient color as in the picture.]
- Next step … enjoy this gorgeous work of art!
Recipe alternative: Swap out the orange liqueur with a different flavor or a purée to switch it up for the next round.