When we first moved to Mexico, I remember sitting at the bar in the restaurant of our newly acquired resort gazing at this incredibly exotic and gorgeous place I just landed in. Was it real or just a sueno (dream)?
One thing I definitely knew was I needed a drink so I could take it all in and, not knowing what else to order (it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon), I ordered a vironga. The cantinero (bartender) looked at me like I was speaking Russian. Actually, it’s Spanglish for beer and being from San Antonio, I thought I was being so very cool and bilingual at the time. Not!
After realizing the error of my ways, I quickly recovered, trying not to let him know that I was a complete idiot and very casually ordered a cerveza. He immediately opened the refrigerator below his bar, grabbed a muerta (a beer so cold, it’s dead), wrapped a little napkin around the bottle so it wouldn’t sweat and placed it right in front of me. Bienvenida a (welcome to) Mexico, Heather, I said to myself and I smiled, chuckled and then shuddered to think what the future had in store for me.
Una Margarita, Por Favor
When in Mexico, most Americans indulge in liters of margaritas—frozen, on the rocks, strawberry as well as other fruity flavors. I’ve seen it first-hand. And I tend to agree that it can be a refreshing drink (that happens to be loaded with sugar), especially when you’re sitting on a hot beach. But this is not a bebida any self-respecting Mexicano would order. Not even close.
Real Mexicans drink their tequila straight up (preferrably Herradura Reposado) with a side of sangrita, a sweet and spicy tomato concoction. Or they order a Paloma, which is tequila with Squirt, a delectable and refreshing grapefruit soda.
But Americans still want their margaritas. And who can blame them? Since Tuesday, February 22 is National Margarita Day, I thought it an appropriate occasion to share with you our favorite recipe for a great stateside margarita.
Simplicity is the Key
Forget the powdered mixes, the pre-made mixers, the dreaded margarita machines or anything else that isn’t super fresco (fresh). That is so un-Mexican. All you need is tequila. But please don’t use añejo, reposado or any high-end tequila such as Patron for a margarita, just a plain, old silver tequila will be just fine. Add some lime juice, sugar and either Cointreau or Grand Marnier and you’re well on your way to a fiesta–or cheat and use David’s secret sauce, limeade.
If you are lucky enough to have the day off tomorrow, why not make a margarita in honor of this special gringo (American) holiday?
Once you’ve had this margarita and shared it with a friend or two, it’s likely you’ll be known as the cantinero all summer long.
And that’s not such a bad thing now, is it?
Super Simple Margarita
After much experimentation and lots of testing, here it is. The trick to a great margarita is to use an inexpensive silver or blanco tequila. If you use anything better, you're wasting good tequila and we don't recommend that. Ever. Additionally, we have found that the Simply Limeade brand of juice offers a perfect balance of lime and sugar, thereby eliminating the need to make a simple syrup. Viva la Margarita!
- 1 1/2 ounces silver or blanco tequila
- 1/2 cup Simply Limeade heaping or enough to fill the glass
- 1/2 ounce Cointreau or Grand Marnier
- 1/2 lime halved, for garnish
- Kosher or sea salt for the rim, if desired
Pour the ingredients into an ice-filled shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds or up to 1 minute.
If you want a salt-rimmed glass, use a lime quarter to wet the outer edge of the glass and then dip the rim into a plate of kosher or sea salt.
Strain the drink into an ice-filled glass, with a salted rim or not and serve.