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Monday, May 3, 2010

Margarita: the classic Cinco de Mayo cocktail

Are you ready for Cinco de Mayo?  Margaritas are my favorite Tequila drink and the favorite cocktail of the country, based on sales.  According to industry sources, the Margarita has an average hourly sale rate of 185,000 – that’s over four million a day!  They are delicious and it’s easy to have one too many, so drink wisely. Frozen Margaritas are a good idea to slow your consumption because if you drink a frozen Margarita too fast, you’ll get brain freeze, so you must drink it slowly.  For making frozen (or blended) drinks, as opposed to shaken drinks, you need a good quality blender.  If you have to buy a new blender, don’t get a cheap one.  Check some consumer ratings to make sure you’re getting a high quality brand. 

The Utah State Store has a variety of Tequilas on sale (special price adjustment) this month.  For making Margaritas, you can use gold Tequila (for everyday) or a better Tequila for special occasions (or because you like it).  Sauza® Gold and Jose Cuervo® Especial are decent gold Tequilas.  On the other hand, if you haven’t tried silver (or plata) Tequilas, you really should broaden your horizons.  1800 Silver Select (on sale this month) would be a good one to try.  There are a lot of more expensive Tequilas available, and it’s nice to have a bottle of Reposado or Añejo around the house.  You can taste a difference, even in Margaritas, but any good, smooth Tequila will make a fine Margarita, but you might want to save your better Tequilas for sipping.

The following recipe references “bar sugar”.  Bar sugar is more finely ground than normal sugar, but is not powdered sugar.  If you can’t find bar sugar, buy “Bakers’ Sugar” and use it.  The finer sugar dissolves faster in cocktails.  Keep some in a small container in your bar, and refill it as necessary.  Some prefer not to put sugar in their Margaritas, while others like theirs sweet, so ask before mixing.  Margaritas taste much better when you use freshly squeezed lime juice, but you can use ReaLime® lime juice with (optional) sugar or Rose’s® Sweetened Lime Juice (and skip the sugar) if you must (i.e. are out of fresh limes). 

If you drink a lot of Margaritas, you may want to create your own finely tuned Margarita recipe by altering the proportions to fit your own taste.  The same proportions will work for a Margarita rocks, or one shaken and served straight up.  If you use a high quality Tequila, you might want to upgrade the Triple Sec to Cointreau® or Grand Marnier®.  And finally, a word about salt.  Salt was originally used to kill the burn of cheap Tequila.  The better the tequila you use, the less salt you need, and if the Tequila is good enough, you should be drinking it from a snifter and not mixing it into Margaritas.  On the other hand, you might want to check out my special Cinco de Mayo glass rimming technique.

Classic Margarita

2 oz. Tequila
Juice of one freshly squeezed lime (about 1 oz.) or lime juice
½ oz. Triple Sec
½ tsp. Simple syrup or 1 tsp. Bar Sugar (optional!)

Rim a glass with salt, if desired.  Blend ingredients with ice (9 cubes from my ice maker – experiment) until smooth, ending up at high speed.  (Or combine with ice in a shaker if you prefer yours up or on the rocks.)  A frozen Margarita should be thick enough to form peaks, but liquid enough to pour into a glass rimmed with salt (see my special rimming technique) and garnished with a lime wheel.  Olé!

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