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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The perfect 'Rita.

Marko mentioned his intent to make an over sized margarita today.

While I haven't made one in an age, I have pretty strong feelings about this strong mixed drink, and would like to share them here:

1: Don't waste your money on premium tequila in a margarita; you're mixing it. Use midrange tequila. (That said, don't scrape the bottom of the barrel.)

2. Always squeeze your limes fresh. ALWAYS. Limes are too cheap, and squeezing them is too easy (if you have a squeezer. If you don't, get one. A nutcracker-type clamshell metal citrus squeezer is about $11, and lasts forever.), not to.

3. Don't use mixes, EVER. There should be three liquid ingredients in your 'rita: Tequila, Lime Juice, and Triple Sec. If you have to, you can sweeten it a bit with some sugar, but my preferred sweetener is to add more Triple Sec.

4. Use a shaker-type mixer. It's not ABSOLUTELY necessary, but that $4 shaker over a pint glass (or $7 plastic shaker mixer with graduated markings, which are handy) will allow you to mix the ingredients in the presence of ice, while not diluting the drink. Then strain it (to get the seeds out) over ice into a chilled glass.

5. Bruise the rind of a fresh lime, and firmly press it down on the rim of the glass, running it around the glass a couple of times before running some lime juice (usually from the face of a cut lime) over the rim before salting the rim. Even if you don't salt the rim, do this. It puts some of the aromatic oils into the glass, and makes it taste VERY fresh. It takes far less time to do it than to say this, I promise.

This sounds like a bit of trouble, but in practice, it doesn't even double the time spent to make a margarita, and the outcome is far better than any margarita that I've ever tasted in a bar.

Try it just once, and tell me what you think. Note: This method uses a bit more Triple Sec (or if you're feeling saucy, Blue CuraƧao) than a lot of recipes call for, so plan accordingly.

And be careful. Those things are potent, tasty, and sneak up on you. Plan accordingly.

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11 Comments:

At Wednesday, July 21, 2010 6:01:00 PM, Anonymous Shrimp said...

As a former bartender, I agree (mostly).

I absolutely agree with you on the tequila. If you buy the top shelf agave, you've wasted your money by mixing it in something. And the cheap stuff will peel your stomach from your esophagus, so that's right out. I wouldn't use anything cheaper than Cuervo (and I personally wouldn't use Cuervo). My personal favorite is Cabo Wabo(reposado) but then I don't like to spend a ton on tequila either. If you're buying, then I like Don Eduardo, Don Julio or Patron.

I think your recipe would do well with some OJ as a sweetener. Most Margarita recipes call for a "sweet and sour" of some sort, and you are correct to avoid the mixes if at all possible. They're either too tart or too sweet and nasty all around. The OJ and the Lime Juice are natural sweet and sours.

When I was still slinging drinks, my recipe followed the bar stock, which meant cheap tequila, triple sec and mix, plus I added OJ and 7-UP to balance out the nasty mix they bought. Everybody liked my margaritas.

 
At Wednesday, July 21, 2010 7:41:00 PM, Blogger Carteach0 said...

proportions?

 
At Thursday, July 22, 2010 8:46:00 AM, Anonymous aczarnowski said...

I'd also like the proportions you typically run.

The trick with the lime rind sparks my interest. That'll definitely get a try next time we make margaritas. We're believers in the essential oils making a difference after having perfect manhattans with and without an orange twist.

 
At Thursday, July 22, 2010 9:53:00 AM, Anonymous Shrimp said...

If you're talking a bar margarita, then the typical recipe was:

1 oz tequila (some places and people prefer one and a half oz)
1/2 oz triple sec
1/4 oz Rose's Lime Juice (if they have it, most do)

Then I added the mix, plus equal parts OJ and 7-UP, usually not more than 1/2 to 1 oz each.

If you're gonna follow Matt's recipe, I would think that the tequila could sit at 1 oz, triple sec should generally be 1/2 oz, but you could safely increase it to a 1 to 1 ratio with the tequila if you like it sweet.

Almost any mixed drink will follow the rule of 1 to 1 and 1/2 oz of liquor and the rest is mixer or soda or whatever. Obviously, there are exceptions (the Long Island Iced Tea to name just one) but 2 oz+ is a strong drink, so start light and move up if you feel like experimenting.

Basically, the only place to go wrong is to use the cheap tequila, or use the mix and not correct for it.

 
At Thursday, July 22, 2010 5:34:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Shrimp, I'm so opposed to your use of Rose's lime juice, that I almost couldn't bring myself to approve the comment. THAT's what's wrong with bar-mixed margaritas.

With my three-ingredient method, I believe I came up with a mix of 1oz Tequila, 1 oz Triple Sec, 1 oz lime juice, and sweeten to taste. It's admittedly a strong drink, and maybe someday I'll find a sweet and sour that I can accept.

Many don't like the lime so very strong, and they may prefer 3/4 oz lime juice, with a touch more Triple Sec.

Triple Sec is, like most liquers, pretty low in alcohol (about 40 proof, compared to liquor being about 80+ proof), so it doesn't raise the toxicity of the drink too aweful badly to use as a sweetener. Note that I don't buy it in the little bottles when it's time to mix.

 
At Thursday, July 22, 2010 6:28:00 PM, Anonymous Shrimp said...

Matt, I didn't write the recipe, that's just what we used :^)

And in my defense, I did what I could to make it less ghastly, considering what I had to work with.

I must have been doing something right, because the other bartenders couldn't give away margaritas, but I ran through twenty or so a night. Not bad for an American Legion.

In truth, I agree with you, although I think the problem with most bar margaritas lies more in the sweet and sour mixes than the Rose's. Some of them should be against the Geneva conventions.

I was going to mention the triple sec not having a high alcohol content, which is why it could be used in a 1 to 1 ratio without too much issue. Mind like steel sieve, I tell ya.

Try the OJ and Lime Juice in a 1 to 1 with the tequila, and I think you'll like it. They balance each other nicely, and the extra ounce of liquid cuts the strength of the drink just a touch.

 
At Thursday, July 22, 2010 6:53:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Oh, I know, Shrimp. My best friend was the head bartender in the College Station (read: TX A&M, where they drink hard)Bennigans, which sold the most alcohol of all of their outlets. He tells me how they did it, and I roll my eyes at how they gave up quality for expediency. Then he tells me how he would try to "fix" the drinks. Like the "$7 Virgin Mary" (an unheard-of price in 1993) that he would sell.

As Triple Sec is really quite cheap (often $12 for a half gallon of the midrange stuff), there's no excuse not to keep a good portion of it on hand for mixer and sweetener. Same with coconut rum (which likewise is low proof, comparatively).

 
At Friday, July 23, 2010 8:39:00 AM, Anonymous Shrimp said...

Well, in a "college bar" they often give up quality for quantity. In my younger days, I used to drink cheap beer, cheap liquor and eat cheap bar food. That's what the college kids want (most of them) and the bars will sell it. Most of the people in the bar would drink it regardless of how it was made.

I almost hate to say it, but it would probably be wasted on them to make the drink as you describe it, because they'd likely down it and order another before the glass hits the bar, because their goal isn't a good drink, but a good drunk.

 
At Friday, July 23, 2010 10:49:00 AM, Anonymous aczarnowski said...

As someone who enjoys a 3-1 sweet brandy manhattan after work (no, I'm not from Wisconsin but pa did spend a fair amount of time there) a 1oz cocktail hardly seems worth the effort. You gotta keep an eye on them though since they can bite. ;)

I've felt my margaritas were lime heavy so that's why I was wondering about proportions. Thanks for the banter there.

As for Rose's, it's a staple in our house. We like it for gimlets and there's a 4-1-1 (2-1-1 maybe? don't have my recipe book at hand) gin, rose's and blue curaco we call a 10,000 Lakes around our friend group (yes, I am from Minnesota).

 
At Monday, July 26, 2010 11:12:00 PM, Blogger Sabra said...

I'm on board with anything that includes "avoid mixes". I don't think I could take a margarita that involved orange juice and 7-Up--what kills the drink is too much sweetness. At that point, why not just pour tequila into a glass of Mountain Dew?

(Mind you, my visceral dislike of sweet alcoholic drinks is probably pretty unusual; I'm very sensitive to sugar.)

 
At Monday, August 02, 2010 4:54:00 PM, Blogger elmo iscariot said...

A bit late to this party, but I just tried your method and Danielle and I are verra, verra pleased with it. The flavor is crisp and clean and refreshing in a way that the mixed stuff never is. Having always had margaritas from mixes or casual restaurants (but I repeat myself), it's good to see what I've been missing.

 

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