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May 4, 2012

Celebrating Cinco De Mayo: What Goes Into a Good Margarita?

Celebrating Cinco De Mayo: What Goes Into a Good Margarita?OK, admit it — the way most Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo is by enjoying a good margarita. But how can you be sure your homemade margarita is top-notch?

You may or may not have any true Mexican heritage to celebrate this weekend, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to be a part of the fiesta. The weather is warming up, May has finally come and the conditions are right to relax on the back porch with a refreshing homemade margarita. But don’t fall into the land of store-bought margs and mixes that come in buckets. To make a fresh margarita from the comfort of your own kitchen, consider these few key ingredients and choose the freshest things you can find. Then your only problem will be keeping the neighbors at bay.

Basic Composition of a Margarita:

You have several options when it comes to the varieties of margaritas you can make — chilled or frozen, lime or blueberry — but the basic five ingredients that make up a classic margarita are pretty much the same. Essentially, you will need tequila, triple sec, lime juice, salt and ice. From there you can get as creative as you’d like!

Choosing the Best Ingredients:

Tequila: Here you can decide how fancy you want to get. While many people opt for a tequila like Cuervo Gold, those in the business tend to scoff at the liqueur and opt for something of a little higher quality. Experts agree that the very best tequila is made from alcohol distilled from 100 percent blue agave, which is primarily grown in Mexico. Tequilas that do not fall under this category are classified as “tequilo mixto” or mixed tequila and are made from a mixture of agave and other sugars. You can look at the label of the tequila and learn which category it’s in.

Those two categories of tequila are then further classified into five more categories to help you know exactly what you’re getting when you buy a bottle. Tequila silver (also called blanco, plata, white or platinum) is tequila made from the purest form of agave. It is typically clear in color and has never aged. Tequila Gold (also called joven or oro) will generally be a mixto that has added color and flavoring. Tequila Reposado is tequila that has been aged for between 2 and 11 months in tanks or wooden barrels. Tequila Añejo, or “extra aged” tequila has aged for at least one year, and Tequila Extra Añejo, or “ultra aged” tequila has aged for more than three years.

Triple Sec: Triple sec is an orange-flavored liqueur that usually includes the peels of bitter and sweet oranges. Here, most experts recommend going with Contreau, which is one brand of triple sec produced in France. It is said to have been an ingredient in the original margarita, and it still continues to be a top choice among many mixologists.

Lime Juice: To get the freshest margarita possible, forgo the bottled lime juice. Choose limes that are fresh and ripe, and squeeze them just before mixing your margarita. The fresh sweet and sour taste of the lime is a key ingredient that can make all the difference in your homemade drink.

Salt: When it comes to the salt for your margarita, you have several options. One fun option is to actually purchase margarita salt and use that to line the rim of your glass. When lining your glass with the coarse-grained salt, run a lime along the rim of your glass and then dip the rim into the salt. The taste will offset the sweet and sour taste of the drink and make it even more refreshing.

Ice: Obviously this one’s sort of self-explanatory. However, you do have the option of choosing to make a blended, frozen margarita or just shaking your cocktail with ice before serving it.

Now that you’ve got the basics of a margarita down, the options for exploration and variation are virtually endless. Impress your neighbors and friends with your newfound Cinco de Mayo skills and enjoy the party, amigo!



About the Author

Brittany Joy Cooper
Brittany Joy Cooper
Brittany Joy Cooper is a freelance writer, editor and consultant who lives in Nashville, Tenn. A native of Indianapolis and a graduate of Samford University, she spent several years editing a music magazine in Nashville before venturing out on her own. Brittany loves all things magazine, especially Real Simple and Whole Living, and now finds that she spends too much of her spare time looking for great recipes on Pinterest.