You can tell how beloved a cocktail is by the number of variations it inspires. And the margarita is extremely beloved. Strawberry, jalapeño, cilantro, mango even Sriracha are just a few of the adaptations gracing restaurant menus and cocktail blogs. But behind the hundreds of tasty alternatives is the classic margarita that started it all.
Here we break down how to pick the perfect tequila, the importance of agave nectar, and the four simple steps it takes to make the perfect classic margarita.
AGAVE NECTAR > SIMPLE SYRUP?
There are a host of benefits often associated with agave nectar: low glycemic level, it’s natural, no bitter after taste, can be used in place of simple syrup in most cocktails, less expensive than liqueurs, the list goes on.
For me, the real selling point is its compatibility with tequila. Agave nectar and tequila both come from the agave plant making them perfect companions in a margarita. Simply put, they were made for each other.
Browse the tequila section with confidence! Here are a few key things to look for on tequila labels and what they mean:
Blanco/Silver = Clear in color and unaged
Reposado = Light gold in color and aged 2 – 12 months in oak vats or barrels
Añejo = Deep gold in color and aged for a minimum of 1 year in oak barrels
100% Blue Agave = Made from 100% fermented blue agave juices with no other sugars. This is a great indicator of quality and doesn’t necessarily mean a steep price tag. You can find this distinction on blanco, reposado and añejo tequilas alike.
A blanco tequila made from 100% blue agave is my go-to choice for margaritas. It’s first-rate quality at a budget-friendly price point.
NOW TO THE GOOD STUFF
What you’ll need
- Coarse salt (Sea salt, marg salt, Kosher salt, whatever you have on hand)
- 2 ounces tequila – I recommend . Great quality 100% agave tequila
- 1 ounce agave nectar
- 1 ounce lime juice
- Lime wheel
- Two small plates
- Rocks glass
- Mixing glass or pint glass
- Shaker cup
What to do
Set up two small plates. On the first, add a shallow layer of water. On the second, pour a generous mound of salt.
Dip the top rim of your rocks glass first into the water and then into the salt (the water helps the salt stick). Cover the entire rim in a thick salty layer, or lightly dip just half your glass. It’s all about preference here.
Set the glass aside.
Add your tequila, agave nectar and lime juice to a mixing glass or pint glass filled with ice. Place the shaker cup on top and tap the bottom to make sure it seals to the mixing glass.
Shake for 15 – 20 seconds, until you see condensation on the outside of the shaker cup.
MIX TIP: The shaking method is the best for margaritas and other sours. It (a) blends the ingredients (b) chills the drink and (3) gives a light texture to the drink with the bubbles it creates.
Strain the mixture into your rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
Add a lime wheel for garnish.
MIX TIP: Keep your garnish on the rim of the glass as opposed to dropping it in your drink. Smelling the lime as you take a sip of your margarita will enhance the overall flavor.