This past Monday, February 22, was National Margarita Day. People all over the country sipped on a margarita and wished for the heat of summer... or did they?
There are an awful lot of awful granitas posing as margaritas floating around out there. Great margaritas are made from three ingredients: good tequila, lime juice and sweetener. Orange liqueur is a very popular and somewhat traditional addition, but the second fruit, blue-colored schnapps or blenders are invited to the party, it's not a margarita anymore.
Below is a simple recipe for a true margarita. It can be a little bit of a chore to make, but the end result is worth the hassle.
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This recipe can easily be scaled up, as long as the proportions of the ingredients don't change. Pitchers of these margaritas disappear quickly at backyard barbecues. While you don't need to use expensive sipping tequilas for a mixed drink, do buy a tequila that says "100% de agave" on the bottle. The extra few dollars will pay off the next morning.
3 fl. oz. simple syrup or agave nectar
3 fl. oz. freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 fl. oz. good tequila (100% de agave--no Cuervo Gold!)
1 fl. oz. premium orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier (optional)
Kosher salt for crusting the rim of the glasses (optional)
Put several cubes of ice in a cocktail shaker. Add the simple syrup and lime juice to the shaker and shake vigorously. Stir in the tequila and, if using, the orange liqueur. Rub the rim of a glass with a cut lime, then dip in a dish of salt. Pour the margarita--carefully--into the glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Note: To make simple syrup, boil two parts cane sugar to one part water until the sugar dissolves completely and the resulting liquid takes on a slightly beige cast. If you mix lime juice into an equal amount of cooled simple syrup, you have homemade sour mix which can be used for everything from margaritas to whisky sours.