November 25, 2012

Top Shelf Margs

Is there anyone else that gets super annoyed when ordering a margarita at an upscale dining restaurant and then served a super-sized syrupy drink made from lime juice concentrate? I'm less offended, and much less picky, when it involves patio sitting and nacho eating. However, a good margarita should have some bite from the tequila and only use freshly squeezed lime. 

So that covers at least two of the key ingredients: tequila and fresh lime juice. Many recipes feature triple sec or Cointreau (a fancier French triple sec), ice, and salt. I'm a bigger fan of Cointreau, as it lends a dry, just sweet enough finish, but I think any triple sec will do.  Salt or no salt? I prefer no salt, it is not bringing out any flavor essences, or adding depth. The addition of salt to the rim of a glass is often zealously overdone. On one too many occasions, I've scraped the salt off the rim of the glass to find it measuring out to about a teaspoon. Salt is good for a lot of things, but in my opinion, keep the salt out of these top shelf margs. 

I recently picked up a bottle of Don Julio Anejo, which is a quite good sipping tequila. Armed with my Williams and Sonoma Bar Guide book, a new Boston mixer, and the proper ingredients I have been attempting various versions of a classic margarita (more to come). My suggested pairing is for serving these margaritas whilst waiting around for the Tex-Mex chili gravy enchiladas (you're welcome, Sara Wobs). 

Yield: 1 drink, approx 3.5-4 oz

2 fl oz tequila such as Don Julio Anejo
2-3 tbsp triple sec, such as Cointreau
freshly squeezed lime juice from about 1/2 a lime (depends on size)
mint or basil for garnish along with a wedge of lime. 

1. In a Boston mixer, or other cocktail mixer, mix all ingredients together except garnishes. When I did not have a mixer, I just used a Mason jar that I could shake the crap out of.
2. Shake back and forth until well mixed. Pour into a chilled glass, add a few ice cubes, and garnish with some lime slices, and mint or basil if you wish.

Side note: do you ever buy mint or basil from the market or grocery store to add to a few dishes, and then it gets piled under several other things, and it comes up later black and moldy? I often add them to drinks as a garnish. 


  1. You pick out the moldy mint/basil to put them on your drinks for garnish?!? o_O

  2. Nico. Ha. Yes, I totally pull the moldy ones out (and throw them in the compost!) How did I not see this before hitting "publish" I blame brain drain.

  3. So what *did* you actually mean to say? :-P

  4. What I'd do for margaritas right now. Unfortunately the weather is so cold and windy, I am going for Gluhwein or Hot Chocolate before a margarita. But your photo with sun in the window makes me jealous.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hi Neeli, you have lovely blog and gorgeous photos! What I can't stand is that pre-made stuff in the big plastic tubs they make margaritas with so all they have to do is add the liquor and ice. Yuck! It is full of sweet & sour mix or "filler" as I say. I will try your recipe out this weekend. I even have a big pot of mint & lemongrass growing on my balcony so I may throw that in as well. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  7. ^^^^^ That's me, for some reason it wouldn't let me sign in.

  8. ^^^^^ That's me, for some reason it wouldn't let me sign in.

    1. Alpa, you have such a lovely blog. I too, lived in Texas many a year ago. Please let me know how the margs turn out. Now you have me thinking of lemongrass simple syrup!