For tequila aficionados, or even just the occasional drinkers, there are few things as refreshing on a hot, sunny day, or steamy summer night, than a frosty margarita.
As cocktails go, at first glance, the margarita seems rather simple, but then again, I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of horrible margaritas; too tangy, too bitter, too sweet. The ingredients for a classic margarita are generally tequila, triple sec and fresh lime juice, but the secret to a flawless signature margarita lies in the proportions.
As many a spiritual guru will tell you, it’s all about balance. And that goes double for a flawless margarita that is consistent and delicious every time.
After making more margaritas than I can count, I have determined the perfect proportions as follows.
Makes one Signature Margarita:
60ml tequila (100% agave reposado preferred)
45ml triple sec
30ml lime juice
Salt for the glass rim
To begin, if you are a fan of the salted rim, use a wedge of lime to wet the rim of your glass and dip, at an angle, into a plate of evenly distributed salt; set aside. Next, pour the first 3 ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with crushed ice. Make sure the lid on your shaker is firmly in place – we definitely don’t want to lose any of our flawless concoction to the floor! Shake vigorously until the exterior of the shaker frosts and then strain the frothy mixture into your chilled, and optionally salted, glass. The most classic, and my personal preference, is to use a tumbler, but if you’re feeling sophisticated, you can also use a gimlet or martini glass. Finally, finish with a slice of lime as a garnish. While this is not necessary for the drink composition, it adds to the appearance and most people enjoy the act of squeezing a lime into their frosty margarita.
Tequila, being the star of this classic cocktail, should be of the highest quality. My personal favorite is 100% agave reposado and it is imperative that you verify this. Quality brands will list this proudly on their labels. If you don’t see it, you can bet that it’s not 100% agave and you would be wise to skip it for a band that confirms its validity. When a tequila brand doesn’t offer this, then up to 49% of that tequila is actually fermented cane sugar. Certainly not a star ingredient, and not too great for the waistline either! And don’t be fooled by brands that look gold in color. The gold does not insure your tequila is aged or of better quality. Many times, gold brands of tequila have simply added caramel coloring to make their tequila look more appealing.
A 100% agave Reposado Tequila on the other hand, has been aged in oak barrels for up to 18 months. Unlike its silver counterpart, it has a richer and sometimes “oaky” flavor which provides an added depth to your signature margarita cocktail.
Triple sec, the best friend to tequila’s leading role, is a liqueur made from the skins of Seville and Curacao oranges. It ranges in alcohol content from 18-30% depending on the brand. For me, triple sec provides the layered bitter-sweet orange note in my signature margarita that makes this drink flawless and delicious.
Now, let’s have a chat about limes. Unlike lemons, which can be substituted in a pinch, the flavor of limes varies more considerably based on factors like the variety, season, weather and origin. Due to that variability, it is advised that you try your lime juice before mixing your drink. If you have a batch that is on the aggressively sour side, use a smaller amount. The lime juice should add a refreshing splash of tart, but not a burning twang! This can vary anywhere from 15-40ml per drink. If the batch is beyond sour, then I suggest making the rest up with water to get to your 30ml total. Water, although on its own somewhat boring, is a fascinating ingredient when mixed. The reason behind this is because the alcohols react with water in a peculiar way, and the smallest amount facilitates aromas and flavors not readily palatable in the unwatered version. Scotch drinkers will be the first to attest to this phenomenon, and use it to aid in releasing the oak notes.
Now, all that’s left to do is make a batch, enjoy, and share your flawless signature margaritas with family and friends! ¡Salud!