For my first Spotlight Cocktail I wanted to take a look at the Margarita, featuring the much maligned and misunderstood (in the UK certainly) tequila.
Tequila! Does it make you happy? I must admit, that up until a few years back I though of tequila as just an unpleasant late night shot. It brought back memories of licking salt, getting lime in your eye and trying hard not to gag. I remember only ever taking a shot to try and look cool (and I’m pretty sure I looked anything but when I gurned after each attempt), and even when mixed into a TVR (tequila vodka redbull) it wasn’t much better.
However, during a trip to Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding, I discovered that the problems in my relationship with tequila were all my own fault. I had been expecting so much from it and offering nothing in return. Of course I didn’t like shots of tequila, I didn’t like shots of any straight alcohol, and yet I never wrote off vodka or rum just because I couldn’t down them. It turns out that tequila is fantastic, as long as you use it right. Some people do love tequila on its own, but for me, tequila is an ingredient in a fantastic range of drinks, and I love the taste of it now, as long as it is balanced with other things. In Las Vegas I discovered the Margarita – I drank it by the half-yard from a plastic cowboy boot and although that particular experience left me needing an afternoon nap, it also left me a Margarita convert.
There are two types of people in this world, those to whom a Margarita will always be a cocktail, and those who think of it as a particularly bland variety of pizza (there is probably a third type of person who rarely thinks about either of these, but they are not relevant right now). To me, Margaritas were a revelation. They can be served in so many ways, straight up, on the rocks, blended, and with so many fruity flavours too. However they are served though, tequila is the central flavour, and its warming roughness is just delicious.
Some will be horrified to hear that I don’t like salt on my Margarita, well, horrified or not it is true. Serve me a drink edged with salt and it will not end well – why would someone intentionally edge their drink with something designed to induce vomiting? Anyway, I fully understand that some people like this, and I will edge their glass if desired, just make sure it doesn’t get mixed with mine. In a fruit flavoured Margarita you can edge my glass with sugar, or leave it plain, just keep the salt shaker for the late night munchies please.
- 50 ml gold tequila (I usually use Jose Cuervo)
- 40 ml triple sec or Cointreau (Cointreau is slightly stronger, but harder to pronounce)
- 40 ml fresh lime juice
- Agave syrup to taste (sugar syrup will do, but agave is from the cactus plant, so it was made to go with tequila!)
Mix in a shaker with lots of hard ice until the shaker begins to frost, strain into a Margarita glass as shown, or a Martini glass will do in a pinch (hell, if you pour it into a coffee mug it will still taste pretty good)
I like to wipe the used lime wedge around the edge of the glass for extra zing, and if you would like to rim the glass with salt or sugar, the lime juice will help it stick. Just pour a little on a saucer and then run the limed edge of the glass round on the saucer before you pour in the drink. If you rim the glass with sugar you probably won’t need the agave unless you like it sweet.
If you prefer, you can pour this out into a rocks glass over new ice, or with the ice in the shaker if you would like it watered down a little. You could also pour all the ingredients, including the ice, into a blender and enjoy a frozen Margarita – perfect for hot summer nights.
A little controversial, but trust me, unless you are bananaphobic (a real thing apparently) this is really tasty. I think it is the rounded flavour of the banana that acts as a counterpoint to the roughness of the tequila, or maybe it’s just a great way of reaching your 5 a day.
- 50 ml gold tequila
- 40 ml triple sec or Cointreau
- 40 ml fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ripe banana
- 4-5 ice cubes
Add all the ingredients to a blender, mix until smooth, ideal served in a short Martini glass or piled high in a Margarita glass. Can be served with a slice of banana if you want to show off – slice it with the peel on and cut partway through the banana to serve on the edge of the glass.
Other fruits that go well in a Margarita include passionfruit (just a little passionfruit syrup in place of the agave, can be served with a spoonful of passionfruit seeds on top, or with a half fruit), raspberry or strawberry (fresh ideally, syrups are not the same), or try anything that takes your fancy, mango, kiwi, go crazy!
There are lots of other lovely tequila based drinks, including the Tequila Sunrise and of course the Long Island Iced Tea (although Long Islands deserve a post of their own…) but for me the Margarita is king. Try it out and find a balance that suits you – just don’t try too many in one evening.
Enjoy responsibly 🙂