No matter your heritage, it seems nearly everyone loves a good margarita.
And there’s no better day to end up with rock salt on your lips than May 5, the celebratory holiday marking the Mexican victory over the French at the battle at Puebla in 1862.
If you’re planning to spend this Cinco de Mayo at home rather than jockeying for placement at one of Lawrence’s fine Mexican eating and drinking establishments, take these tips from the pros on how to make a fabulous, well-balanced, knock-your-socks-off margarita.
Find your ratio. The first trick is to figure out exactly how strong you want that margarita of yours to be.
Angel Alvarez, owner of Tortas Jalisco, 534 Frontier Road, says he uses five parts liquid to one part alcohol in most of the margaritas on his menu.
Meanwhile, Ken Baker, executive chef and proprietor at Pachamama’s, 800 N.H., says he goes by a general rule of thumb of one part alcohol, one part sweet and one part sour.
Use real ingredients. You know that margarita mix that comes in unrefrigerated plastic containers? Don’t use it, Baker says.
“The pre-made juices are usually a very small percentage of real juice. They could contain corn syrup or all kinds of other fillers,” Baker says. “So, generally, if you want to feel good about what you’re drinking, it’s best to make everything from the ground up as the drinks are ordered.”
Stephanie Bell, a server and bartender at Pachamama’s, suggests that if you’re going to throw a margarita party, borrow or invest in a juicer to keep things coming. Though she says at the restaurant they squeeze the juice by hand.
Punch up the flavor. Speaking of juice, it doesn’t just have to be lime juice.
“We’ve done a passion fruit margarita, we’ve done a pomegranate margarita, we’ve done a grapefruit margarita,” Bell says. “We’ve actually (did) a spicy peach margarita once that was really killer, too.”
Also, while you’re changing things up, it’s OK to do fun things like add carbonated water to your mixture. Alvarez says he does this with several of Tortas Jalisco’s flavored margaritas to give them some fun fizz.
Play around with the liquor, too. Alvarez says he has his family in Mexico keep him up on what tequilas and other liquors are popular locally. He says often the ones that are popular in the United States, aren’t the ones that are favored in Mexico.
Baker adds you should also consider the quality of the liquor, no matter the brand.
“I go by the same rule with wine, you don’t cook with something you wouldn’t drink. But at the same time, you’re talking about a cocktail, so it’s blended,” he says. “I would say, medium- to high-end tequila is all you should use.”
Don’t forget the salt. Whether or not you like salt on the rim of your glass, Alvarez says to make sure to add a pinch to each drink you pour.
“All the margaritas have to have a pinch of salt,” he says after rattling off the ingredients of his rum-based margarita. “That’s what brings (out) the flavor of the margaritas.”
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
4 cups red watermelon (seedless), cut into 2 inch chunks
2 limes, cut in half
1/2 cup tequila
1/4 cup orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
2 cups ice cubes
Limes, cut into wedges for garnish
Red watermelon balls for garnish
Place 2 teaspoons sugar in a small dish. Rub rim of margarita glasses with 1 cut half of lime, and then roll glasses in sugar to coat.
Combine juice of limes, watermelon, 2 tablespoons sugar, tequila and orange-flavored liqueur with ice in a blender and blend until smooth. Fill blender with ice cubes and blend until mixture is a slush consistency. Fill prepared glasses with margaritas; garnish each glass with a lime wedge and watermelon balls on a skewer and serve immediately.
— Recipe from www.melissas.com.
Absolut Mango Margarita Cocktail
1 part Absolut Mango
2 parts lime juice
1 part triple sec
1 part mango puree
Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add all ingredients. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
— Recipe from www.absolutdrinks.com.
Jose Cuervo Tradicional Margarita
1 ounce Jose Cuervo
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1/2 cup ice (or more)
Rub the rim of a chilled margarita glass with the lime and dip into salt to coat it. In a cocktail shaker, combine Jose Cuervo, Grand Marnier, lime juice and ice. Shake vigorously and strain drink into the garnished glass, filled with ice.
— Recipe from www.cuervo.com.
Orange Watermelon Margarita
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup tequila
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
4 cups orange watermelon cubed, frozen
1/4 cup coarse salt
Remove rind from whole watermelon and cut into 1-inch cubes.
Set on plastic film lined cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze until solid (about 1 hour).
In blender, combine lime juice, sugar, tequila and orange liqueur.
Add watermelon chunks a few at a time, blending into a thick, smooth slush.
If desired, pour salt onto a small plate. Rub glass rims with a lime wedge to moisten.
Dip rims in salt to coat.
Pour margarita mixture into glasses; garnish with lime wedges.
— Recipe from www.melissas.com.
1 ounce Grand Marnier
1 1/2 ounces tequila
3/4 ounce freshly squeeze lime juice
Lime wedges for rim
For an authentic presentation, garnish the rim of the glass with salt. Begin by filling a wide, shallow dish with 2 to 3 mm of fine salt. Cut a lemon in half and rub the cut side around the rim of the glass. Then, holding the glass upside down, dip it delicately into the salt, so that it adheres to the rim to a thickness of 2 or 3 mm. Turn the glass upright and wait a few minutes.
— Recipe from www.grand-marnier.com.
1 can Sauza Silver Tequila
1 can frozen limeade
1 bottle light beer
1 can water
Pour limeade and beer into a pitcher with ice. Fill limeade can 2/3 with Sauza Silver Tequila and pour into pitcher. Finally, add a can of water, stir and enjoy. Makes 9 servings.
— Recipe from www.sauzatequila.com.