Years ago, back when we lived in London, we were desperate for margaritas. So desperate that we’d take an hour-long train trip, and then walk 20 minutes to get to a restaurant with both a frozen margarita machine and decent Mexican food. We’d savor our Cuervo slushies and enchiladas, and then happily slog back to our tiny flat. If only I’d known how easy it is to make a really good margarita from scratch. The margarita was first created in the 1940s, when a California bartender made a tequila-and-lime version of the sidecar. Or, wait…maybe the bartender was in Juarez, Mexico? Or perhaps it was an American socialite in Acapulco who mixed the first batch? Cocktail authorities disagree, and every time I write about margaritas, I get a flood of email telling me how wrong I am, whichever story I cite. Regardless of providence, a well-made margarita is delicious. Start with fresh-squeezed lime juice—no bottled juices, no mixes. Then comes triple sec; you can use a run-of-the-mill orange liqueur, but picking a premium brand like Cointreau (my favorite) or Grand Marnier will make a much better cocktail. It’s also worth splashing out for a good tequila, preferably 100 percent blue agave, which also probably means reposado. Remember, you’re making a classic cocktail, something worth sipping and savoring, not filling the blender. For that, just go out.
It’s easy to remember the basic margarita recipe: equal parts tequila, triple sec and fresh lime juice. That said, recipes vary widely so feel free to tinker. Here’s how I like mine:
1-1/2 parts 100 percent blue agave tequila
1 part Cointreau
1 part freshly squeezed lime juice
Fill a cocktail shaker partway with ice, and then add tequila, Cointreau and juice. Shake well. Strain into prepared glass. Garnish with a lime wedge. Like salt? Prepare your glass first by rubbing the outside rim with a wedge of lime, and then rolling it in Kosher salt. To get more juice from your limes, let them come to room temperature and then roll firmly on the counter before squeezing.