28 May 2020
The little things we are missing, like meeting our friends for a laugh and a drink on the beach. To honor those evenings on the beach, toes in the sand, here is a classic and unmatched Margarita recipe provided by Thomas Reagan, original founder of Turtle Bay Cafe and legendary host.
Put that bottle of mix down!
There’s nothing like a bottle of margarita mix to ruin an otherwise perfect evening on the shores of the Mexican Caribbean. Let it go and don't worry, we’ve got you covered. With the tiniest bit of effort, and a few secrets, you will be pouring the most legendary version of the most legendary drink, and you will become a legendary drink pourer in the eyes of your friends and guests.
There are only 5 ingredients in a Margarita: tequila, limes, orange liquor, simple syrup, and salt, all of which can be easily bought at the local grocer, even in Mexico. So, the secrets:
- Tequila. There are 3 main classes
- Plata, or silver, is clear in appearance and is aged the least, under 60 days. It has a light body and a clean finish. It is probably the most commonly used due to its neutral character.
- Reposado tequila is aged over 60 days, but less than a year. There is more Oak in the flavor of this type of tequila, but not so much that it will overpower your drink if you are mixing it.
- Tequila aged for at least a year in oak barrels is called Anejo. It is a very full-bodied spirit with lots of character which is why it is a favorite of tequila sipper snobs.
Any of these classes can be used in a marg and it’s really up to personal preference as to which one you choose, so don’t fret, pick one and give it a try. Heck, pick two and have a taste test.
- Limes. Remember we are throwing all bottles away for this recipe, so fresh limes only. Get a bunch of them. Typically, the number of limes used per drink hovers close to two each, but it varies depending on the lime. If they are especially juicy limes it may only take one, but typically its around two. Account for garnish, so add a few more to the bag.
- Orange Liquor like Triple Sec or Controy accounts quite a bit for the character of your drink, so spend the extra couple of pesos on the good stuff.
- Simple syrup is probably the most difficult part of this whole recipe since it needs to be made. Luckily, it’s super easy. Combine equal parts by volume White sugar to water and then heat this mixture until all of the sugar is dissolved. Let it chill completely. I usually have a separate container nested in ice which I use to pour the hot simple syrup into to speed cooling.
- Salt is optional of course, but not for me personally. Unless you have dietary considerations regarding salt, I highly recommend it. It really brings a contrast and a balance to the drink that doesn’t exist without it. There is a special marg salt which is less salty, and you can use it if it’s available. Otherwise I would recommend kosher salt over regular table salt. Table salt is very fine grained and behaves badly on the rim of glasses. It clumps and falls off, and can be easily overdone. If it is all you have, just make sure the dish you are using to dip glasses into has a very thin layer so you don’t overdo it.
So, here’s how it’s done: 2-1-1-1. Two parts tequila, one-part lime juice, one-part orange liquor, and one-part simple syrup, where a part is equal volume of any ingredient. It could be a thimble, an imperial cup, a 5-gallon bucket, a bathtub, or a semi-truck. You know- it depends on how many are gonna be drinking. I usually use a bottle of tequila as two-parts per “recipe.” It may sound like a lot, but these go down really easy, so you better get a second bottle just in case. Besides, remember? Different types of tequila?
A gallon-sized pitcher comes in very handy for single recipes, but more than one recipe requires something more creative. If you do mix in a bowl be sure not to try and serve out of it. Big mess and guaranteed ant parade if you didn’t have one going already.
Mix and taste. You can adjust it to preference at this point, but remember you will be pouring over ice which will dilute the drink and take the edge off somewhat.
Prep the glass. Run a lime around the edge of the glass and dip the rim in salt. Once the rim of the glass is salted, add ice cubes. This sequence is critical! If you add ice to the glass before you salt the rim, you will wind up with ice in your salt. I know because I’ve done it.
A squeeze and twist of a sweet orange is the little subtle note that will top off your legendary drink heading into your legendary evening. Enjoy.