by Paul Zablocki and Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz
Summer winds down, temperatures start to dip a little, yet we still crave Margaritas. Pondering this craving, we've come to the conclusion that the balance of sweet, sour, and that one-of-a-kind complex fruity earthiness that we encounter from the moment we open a bottle of tequila until the last sip is the cause of our happy addiction.
No two tequilas are alike. Those distilled from agave plants grown on higher ground, as in the Sierra Madres of Jalisco, take on a smoother, perhaps sweeter more floral, profile, whereas agave grown in lowlands at the base of an old volcano will surely impart more minerality to your drink, making it smokier, drier.
This also means your margarita might taste different than your amigo's. When we make margaritas at home, we first assess our silver tequila and then choose our triple sec based on what it's saying to us. For a lighter tequila, such as the wildly popular Patron, we look for a triple sec that has a bright orange flavor if its abv is 40%. Combier fits this bill nicely; it reminds us of rubbing sugar cubes on the side of a fresh orange. For a more mineral-tasting tequila, such as Herradura, we may reach for the Cointreau, which combines a rich simple syrup taste with fresh orange zest. And, if we're looking for a less alcoholic margarita, perfect for a party, we reach for the Hiram Walker triple sec, which comes in both 15% and 30% abv versions. Lately, we've been mixing triple sec: half Combier and half Cointreau. Call it sacrilege, call us crazy, but we find that the balance of orange and lime makes the drink supremely easy to sip and lovely.
And, speaking of limes, they must be the freshest you can find. When you cut into a lime, that powdery limey perfume should hit your nostrils and make you want to take in more. The color should be bright with no dull edges. Some tipplers like a lot of lime juice, and we have had margaritas that have boasted the same amount of lime juice as tequila, with simple syrup or agave substituted for triple sec, and have enjoyed them with gusto. But for pairing with some nibbles, we'll stick with our classic 3:2:1 ratio: 3 parts tequila, 2 parts triple sec, 1 part lime juice.
Pairing margaritas with party food is a joy because the citrus opens up the taste buds and tames the alcohol burn that can accompany sipping spirits with appetizers. It's so difficult to stop eating guacamole and chips when you're imbibing a redolent margarita, the combo making you swoon with delight. Make some quesadillas, slice them pizza-style, and top with your favorite salsa and a dollop of sour cream. Easy. Enjoy.Margarita
Gently rim a highball or double-rocks glass with the pulpy side of a lime wedge. Then dip the rim and outside of the glass in the salt mound and turn the glass, so the salt hugs the glass (careful not to get salt inside the glass). Fill the glass halfway with ice.
Or see our article, with photos on rimming a margarita glass in the techniques section at Bar None.
In a shaker filled with ice combine the tequila, triple sec, and lime juice, and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into glass. Garnish with a lime wedge, if this pleases you (you may wish to forgo the garnish with a large party if you're feeling overburdened).Guacamole & Chips
Cut tortillas into six wedges per tortilla, and spread over a cookie sheet. Spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Salt lightly. Bake at 400°F.
Check every few minutes as oven times vary, as can thickness of tortillas. May take between 10–20 minutes.Guacamole:
Combine first seven ingredients and mash, but keep slightly chunky. Stir in cilantro.
If not serving immediately, add the pit to mix and cover with plastic wrap pressed into mix to keep green color.
For more cocktail and party food ideas, visit us at CocktailBuzz.com.
Photo (c) Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz