Say the word Tequila and many people will turn up their noses and scoff at the mere mention of the word. Such can be the case when a drink like the margarita is mentioned. Unfortunately the vast majority of people have never had a real margarita.
What they usually receive when they order one in a bar is a vast difference from what this venerable drink SHOULD BE. Under the day-to-day workings of a bar there really is no substitute for freshly squeezed juices, or at the very least use a juice that is made with all natural ingredients. When a customer orders a margarita in a bar or a restaurant, what usually greets them is a green colored liquid, more sugary corn syrup and that burn in the back of the throat that comes from cheap Triple Sec and rock gut Tequila that should find a better use as a paint remover. The ice is usually crushed into oblivion that dilutes this venerable cocktail into a slushy mess.
This is unfortunate because a well-made margarita is truly a thing of rare beauty. Most people have not had a real margarita, nor would they know what this drink truly is, other than a slurry of sweet flavors woven around a core of cheap Tequila, served frozen in a quart sized container usually made of plastic. This is unacceptable!
Every time that I order a margarita in a bar or a restaurant, I have some pretty specific demands for my drink. First and most importantly, I ask the bartender to use freshly squeezed juice. Limes deteriorate very quickly once they are juiced, so the best margarita cocktails are always made with fresh juice.
If you have been using bottled sugar syrup laden lime juices you should stop reading this article because using a bottled lime juice like Rose’s is just being lazy. Next, should you use Triple Sec in your margarita cocktails may I suggest that you try using Cointreau or better yet Grand Marnier in your cocktail. I’ve actually started using a product from Clement in Martinique named Creole Shrubb. This ingredient is essential in my home prepared margarita cocktails, although good luck finding it in a bar or restaurant. A Shrub is the combination of bitter to sweet to savory flavors from real sugar cane juice instead of molasses, fermented and then mixed with real orange oil from the zests of the orange. It is a most magnificent thing in a margarita because it doesn’t taste like the stuff that is usually served. Rhum Agricole based Creole Shrubb is marvelous when combined with Tequila along with a bit of ice and some freshly squeezed lime juice along with a salt rim.
Recently I did an informal taste test of margarita cocktails and I was shocked by what I received. The usual margarita served is a combination of artificial ingredients. It can be quite bitter and on the other side of the equation, sugary sweet. The ice is not important to most bartenders and they don’t show that they care to do something from “scratch” to make this cocktail sing. What I usually get served is slurry of sour to candy sweet, poured over a glass of crushed ice with a dried out slice of lime. It’s embarrassing to say the least for any bartender worth his or her muster to serve a margarita that is more cartoon than lip smacking, thirst quenching, hunger inducing combination of good simple ingredients.
My margarita cocktails are done very simply with all fresh ingredients. There really is no reason why you should use a pre-made mix from a bottle when it’s so easy to make a margarita from scratch.
There are many margarita mixes on the market. But when you see just how easy it is to juice some limes, add a couple ounces of good Tequila and hit this home-made mix with an orange liqueur, then finish the cocktail with no more than a handful of ice you may never buy a store bought mix again. This way you control the amount of sugar that goes into the cocktail and how much sweetness finishes it.
I’m quite fond of Casa Noble Tequila in Reposado for my margarita cocktails. I find that the extra aging (365 days) in French White Oak barrels stands up better to the smack of the citrus and the vivaciously opulent texture of the orange liqueur. Casa Noble is also USDA Certified Organic, one of only a handful of Tequila brands on the market produced without artificial ingredients or chemical pesticides. If you try to eat organically, this should be important. I love Casa Noble because it tastes differently from many of the other Tequilas on the market.
I think I know what makes Casa Noble so delicious in a margarita. This is because these barrels have a drier finish than many of the bourbon cask finished products on the market. Bourbon cask finished Tequila is lush and soft in the mouth. These Tequilas are more modern in approach. French Oak on the other hand is elegant and sharp on the tongue, yet it finishes aromatic, dry and oh so very French! And if you don’t want a margarita, please let me suggest that you add a couple ounces of this carefully crafted Tequila into a snifter with one ice cube made with your Mavea “Inspired Water” filtration pitcher. It’s worth it to use the very best ice that you can make. Add a squeeze of lime and you have a cocktail made for kings!
I’ve written extensively on ice and believe that a quality cocktail is built on the premise that the ice is the most important ingredient. I’ve seen perfectly good cocktails absolutely destroyed by using ¼ or smaller cube ice from a dirty machine. This is something that I disdain more than most anything in the cocktail land. The use of this kind of low-end ice just says cheap to me. If a restaurant or bar really wants to build their bar business, they should seriously start thinking about upgrading their ice program. There are a number of high quality machines on the market that will make a simple cocktail like a margarita sing!
A Gracious Southern Swing
A slightly askew Margarita Cocktail (as interpreted and augmented by Warren Bobrow, The Cocktail Whisperer)
– 8 oz. Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
– Ice filtered through a MAVEA “Inspired Water” Filtration Pitcher (Essential)
– 5 oz. Casa Noble Reposado (Essential to use the very best because you’re worth it)
– 2 oz. Clement Shrubb or any super premium orange liquor of your choosing
– Pinch of Sea salt or gourmet salt flakes
– 2 oz. Simple Syrup
– Splash of the magical and aromatic Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water in Lime Essence
– Angostura Bitters
- To a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with the Mavea filtered water ice- add ½ of the liquid ingredients (reserving the other ½ for the next round and shake for 15 seconds
- Add a pinch of sea salt for spark within the cocktail… (Listen to me on this!)
- Taste for sweetness, adding a bit more of the simple syrup if necessary
- Serve with a splash of the Perrier Sparkling water over the top
- Finish with a few drops of Angostura Bitters (For healing the stomach!)
- You can wet the rim of the glass with a slice of lime and dip in the sea salt of your choice.