Everyone loves a great margarita – it’s been very popular in the U.S. since the early 1950s, and there are a lot of opinions on what makes a great margarita! With tequila as its base, this refreshing libation has many variations. Here are some of the key factors to making an impressive margarita:
A basic margarita is typically made with the following components: tequila, lime, simple syrup or sweetener, triple sec or orange liqueur. Let’s review our options……
Tequila: made from the fermented and distilled sap of the of the agave plant, has a couple different categories:
Silver or Blanco – unaged and ideal for a fresh lime Margarita or margaritas made with fresh fruits.
Reposado – aged 2 to 11 months in oak or wooden casks; smoother than silver or blanco tequilas
Añejo – aged more than 1 year; wonderfully smooth – best for sippin’ on their own to appreciate the flavor and craftsmanship – but use it in a margarita if you like – or do a float over a simple margarita to add some elegance
Use good tequila.
Use fresh lime juice.
Cointreau is my favorite orange liquor to use in a margarita – but Triple Sec is handy if you’re on a budget.
You can make your own simple syrup (see recipe & method below) or agave nectar is a tasty alternative.
Margaritas can be shaken with ice & served up, on the rocks or blended. I like them tall and on the rocks.
Some like salt, some do not. I like a half rim of salt – my preference being kosher salt. And of course, there are the “add ins” – a splash of fresh OJ, a touch of cranberry juice, pomegranate, fresh berries … the possibilities are endless. I like a spring of fresh sage shaken in my ‘ritas for a savory note!
Sunset Sage Margarita
Boasting a savory and dry fragrance and flavor, sage especially complements tequila.
Makes 1 drink
1 fresh sage leaf
1 1/2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce Cointreau, Triple Sec, or Grand Marnier
1/2 ounce cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Fresh sage leaf for garnishing
Crush the sage leaf and drop into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice, then measure in the remaining liquid ingredients. Cap and shake vigorously until very cold.
Serve on the rocks and add a fresh sage leaf for garnish.
Makes 8 cups
4 cups sugar
4 cups water
Combine the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Bottle and store at room temperature until needed. Keeps indefinitely.
Chef’s Note: Simple syrup is also available at bar supply stores.
Recipe from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Chronicle Books, San Francisco. Copyright © 2006 by Kathy Casey.