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A Proper Margarita

Libation Lab's Quinn Sweeney rediscovers the simplicity of a great Margarita. 2010-12-09 « back

As much preacher as teacher, Eric Rubin is the agave evangelist from Tres Agaves Tequila who ran our Nirvino cocktail education event last week on making a proper margarita.

Conspicuously absent were the corn syrup, sugar cane spirits, sour mix and orange liqueur.  Rubin promotes a margarita comprised simply of 100% agave tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice and agave syrup.  His preferred 2:1:1 ratio is a bit sweet for me, but the quality of the simple drink shines through regardless.

The key to this recipe is the quality of the tequila.  You get into trouble as soon as you pick up a bottle of “mixto” tequila, which is never indicated on the bottle with an honest “49% high fructose corn syrup” but simply by omission of “100% agave”.  If the label doesn’t say “100% agave”, it isn’t.

I believe that if you prefer a fruity or exotic margarita, there’s no rule against modification, but remember that quality and simplicity are crucial. Substitute sweet and fruity ingredients for some or all of the agave syrup or lime juice to to maintain balance.

Rubin however, warns against frozen margaritas: “If you just blend up good ingredients with ice it both dilutes the drink and will also separate almost immediately due to no additives. The reason frozen ones with bad ingredients have such great texture is because they use corn starch or other thickeners to give it that milk shake smoothness.”

He does allow for salt in moderation, and told me, “… it came about during a bout of Spanish influenza in 1919/20 in Mexico. Almost all doctors told their patients to put lime and salt with almost all of their food.  That led to Mexican men preferring their beer this way, which led to the whole shot with salt and lime phenomenon as well as salt on margaritas.”

So to recap, a proper margarita is the product of care, simplicity and purity as you will find in the recipe below.

The Tres Agaves Margarita

  • 2 ounces Tres Agaves Blanco tequila
  • 1 ounce agave syrup
  • 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a glass with fresh ice.

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