Classic tequila cocktail using the traditional ingredients.
By Bill Lau
Posted May 4, 2015
I’ve posted a Margarita recipe before; that one employs agave syrup to balance out the lime’s sourness. This one goes back to the cocktail’s roots, so to speak. It uses only 3 ingredients: tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice, per the traditional recipe. To balance the lime, I do two things – measure the lime juice instead of just using juice of 1 lime, as I’ve noted dramatic differences in the amount of juice that different limes yield; and cranking up the amount of orange liqueur to provide what I feel is the right amount of sweetness.
You can use a basic triple sec, but I find that Cointreau adds a certain refined character and added depth of flavor. I’m not chugging these things down by the pitcher, so why not spend a little on a quality ingredient? At least that’s my philosophy.
As to the tequila, I have several brands that I lean towards for making cocktails, but all have this in common – they’re 100% agave tequilas. You can find decent ones for not that much more than the famous major brands which are mixtos; in other words, made from a combination of agave and other fermentable sugars. When in doubt, look for those magic words “100% agave”. If the label doesn’t list them, then it’s a mixto. I’m rather passionate about my tequila, so that’s the kind I prefer. I also love the blancos, as they have the purest agave flavor. Reposados and añejos tend to be smoother, but also bring increasing amounts of wood-aged character. Let your palate be your guide.
I happened to use Centenario Plata today. Other brands that I like to use include Espolón, Lunazul, and Cabo Wabo. There are a lot of good tequilas out there these days, so go with what you like.
The other thing I’m adamant about is using fresh lime juice. It’s really not a bother if you have a reamer or juicer (those lever-action manual juicers work great!). You can make a Margarita using bottled lime juice (Rose’s is the brand you usually see, at least ’round these parts); there’s a local Mexican restaurant chain in Dayton, OH that makes a lot of hay selling their well-known Margaritas made with bottled lime juice, and they do taste pretty good. You just can’t make this Margarita with it.
And now, on to the recipe, whence ye shall see why this is called “3-2-1 fly! Margarita”. Pay attention to the ratios of the 3 main ingredients. Yeah. Dig it. (My wife Sue, of Palatable Pastime, added the “fly!”, because the “3-2-1” made her think of the bungee cord free-fall ride at King’s Island amusement park. That’s what they used to say right before they released you in the harness, you see.) Have a couple of these and you might feel like you’re in free-fall! (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)
3 oz 100% agave tequila blanco (or plata)
2 oz Cointreau
1 oz freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 cup ice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Serve in your choice of glass (I like a little kitsch factor myself); salted rim optional (my doctor told me to cut down on sodium intake, hence the naked rim in my photo), and garnish with a lime wheel or wedge.