Cinco de Mayo. The holiday in which tequila is consumed in the United States in honor of a Mexican holiday that is not as widely celebrated in Mexico. Regardless of your thoughts on the holiday, Cinco de Mayo is a good reason to enjoy one of the pillars of modern cocktails – the Margarita.
The margarita includes three important components – the tequila, the citrus, and the orange liqueur. There are numerous recipes out there on the internet and in cocktail books giving different proportions for each, but they all boil down to variations of on this theme – meaning quantities can be scaled up or down as needed. Jeffrey Morganthaler had this post in 2006 about the easy way to bring a gallon of margaritas to a party, and it is an almost foolproof recipe for delicious margaritas.
Now that we’ve established our basics, we’re ready to make one at home. The necessary bar gear for combining ingredients are: a cocktail shaker, a measuring jigger, a citrus juicer (optional, but can make things easier). To get everything going, get everything in the shaker and shake the drink to get it to combine – fresh juice nearly always wants shaking in a cocktail. For plan-ahead types, you can make your own sour mix by combining the lemon juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in even proportions. Add a shot of vodka or blanco tequila to help preserve it and it will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
We’ve got our ingredients, we’ve got our tools and we’ve got our technique – so let’s look at a recipe for a DIY basic margarita. Not in the mood to do your own mixing? Keep reading for the places around town that are serving up margaritas for which a holiday is definitely appropriate.
*2oz Tequila – A fair priced one, but a truly premium brand is not necessary here. Keep in mind that if the tequila is too smooth, its staying power is lost in the drink, while too distinct a tequila will conversely be lost in the drink.
*1.oz Cointreau – I use the name brand Cointreau as the orange liqueur because I like the dry quality it brings – it prevents it from being too sweet. For a sweeter drink, use a less “dry” liqueur or modify the amount of simple syrup
*.5 oz Lime Juice
*.5 oz Lemon Juice
*.5oz Simple Syrup – This is just heated sugar water. To make, use equal parts sugar and water and heat until sugar dissolves. Alternatives include agave or honey syrup.
Combine your ingredients in a shaker tin 2/3 full of ice and shake.
Strain it into a serving glass. For a salt rim, take a lime wedge and run it around the rim of the glass before turning it upside down into a plate full of salt. Lo, and behold, a salt rim!
Heading out for Cinco de Mayo to find a margarita? These are three of the best options:
Casa Manana has a slightly sweeter margarita than others mentioned here, but it has a definite tequila flavor without being too agave forward. It is a tangy and refreshing margarita with two more things going for it – it is the least expensive mentioned in this list and the Cantrell location has what I think of as the single most underrated patio in the city.
Local Lime put in a lot of time to make a signature margarita that may be one of the best margaritas around. They spent even more time trying to find the right mix and balance to make frozen margaritas as good as the ones on the rocks. It shows. This margarita is a combination of high quality reposada tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, and a dry triple sec. For a few dollars more, you can add a shot of flavor enhancers in different liqueurs – creme de violette, fernet branca, and aperol to give your margarita more depth and a different twist.
Yes, it’s a chain, but they do margaritas right. A look at their house margarita ingredients looks almost exactly like what is described above – Sauza tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice, simple syrup, and Cointreau. Any restaurant, even a chain, deserves respect for making a margarita with fresh juice instead of the metallic and salty tang of the prepackaged mix. Even better, Cantina Laredo offers a simple addition of strawberry, mango, pomegranate, and tamarind number of margarita variants adding different fruit and flavors to appease all margarita drinkers out there.
Have a favorite spot around town to get your margarita on? Tips on how you make yours? That’s what the comments are there for, my friends. Let us know.