So after trying a couple of Margaritas out while on our trip to Costa Rica, I decided to make my own Margaritas and share them with my family. If nothing else, I figured that it would be the best way to test Costa Rican limes.
My mom had bought me a bottle of Patron for my birthday, I managed to get hold of some agave nectar, and I bought a bunch of limes so I had pretty much everything I needed. I made several batches and my family thought they were very good. Of course I had some myself. So do limes from Costa Rica taste different from limes that come from Mexico or the United States? For the most part, I could not really tell a difference. If anything, they may have been slightly less acidic, but that may have just been the particular batch of limes I had, as the limes I’ve bought in the US vary at times as well.
Looking back, I should have done my research before traveling because apparently an interesting variety called the Mandarin Lime grows commonly in Costa Rica (called mandarinas by the locals). It is basically a lime that looks like an orange on the inside. The flavor is supposedly sweeter, like a cross between a lime and an orange, which would make sense from looking at it. So now I will go on the hunt to find Mandarin limes in the US and as soon as I can get my hands on some, I will report back.
Last year for National Margarita Day, I decided to seek out a recipe for a simple but tasty Margarita I could make at home. With a little digging on the Internet, I stumbled upon a recipe that has become my go-to Margarita. Over the course of the last year I have been testing and perfecting the recipe not only with my own tastebuds, but also with many others whom I have shared my concoctions with. I believe I have refined the recipe and as my gift to you for this Cinco de Mayo, I am sharing what I have learned. I have even posted a video on YouTube showing how easy it is to make an amazing Margarita.
The secret to a tasty margarita is using fresh, quality ingredients. The recipe does not need to be overly complicated. My Margarita uses only four ingredients: 2 oz 100% agave tequila (true Mexican tequila), 1.5 oz fresh squeezed lime juice, 1 tablespoon agave nectar, and 2 oz purified water. Let me elaborate a little bit on each ingredient.
Before I started this blog, I did not know the difference between tequilas. I have now come to discover that true Mexican tequila is required by law to be created from 100% agave. Agave is the plant that tequila is derived from. “Tequila” can be sold in the United States that is made from only 51% agave. The other 49% can be made from a variety of other sources. This bastardized “tequila” is more appropriately called “mixto”. Once you taste the difference between a mixto and a true tequila, you will understand why 100% agave tequila makes such a difference. There are a variety of good quality, but relatively inexpensive tequilas that I have come to like, including Cazadores and Camarena. Certainly there are other great tequilas that are more expensive, such as Don Juilo, Dos Lunas, and Patron, but they are not necessary for a Margarita. You can go with silver (blanco) tequila or reposado varieties of tequila for a Margarita, but you can skip the Añejo type. Not only are añejo tequilas more expensive, but they impart an oak flavor from the barrels they are aged in. I personally do not find the flavor of oak to be all that great in a Margarita.
Fresh lime juice is the heart of a good Margarita. Forget mixes and forget fancy liqueurs such as triple secs. All you need are a few good limes and a quality lime squeezer. While the original recipe I found specified the juice of one lime, what I have come to discover is that all limes are not created equal. Some limes are bigger and some limes produce more juice regardless of size. So one of the first things I figured out was that some of my Margaritas were coming out differently than others and it come down to the amount of lime juice being produced. I started measuring how much juice I was putting in and discovered that the right amount is approximately 1.5 oz. It is possible to put in a little more as well, say about 1.75 oz of fresh lime juice. In theory a little less could work as well, but why would you want to drink a weak Margarita? Once I settled in on 1.5 oz of fresh lime juice, my Margaritas have been consistently excellent.
Agave nectar, being made from the same plant as tequila, seems to perfectly complement the flavor of good quality tequila in a Margarita. Sure, it is possible to use simple syrup, but trust me, the flavor is just not the same. It is even possible to use honey. However, it is quite a bit of a pain as honey tends to congeal quickly in ice water so it must be mixed with warm water ahead of time. So just save yourself the headache and experience the excellent flavor of agave nectar. There are a variety of different agave nectars out there at various price points. I have experimented with several and have found no discernible difference in the flavor of my Margaritas. Therefore, I have settled on an agave brand I can buy in quantity very inexpensively from Sam’s Club. I’m sure you can find a relatively inexpensive variety as well in your local area. My recipe calls for a tablespoon of agave nectar, but my wife actually prefers around a teaspoon (a “skinny” Margarita). So feel free to adjust the agave nectar based on your desired level of sweetness in your Margarita.
Regarding the water, my family had a reverse osmosis water purifier installed several years ago. I can not downplay the difference in flavor between purified water and most tap waters. Once you have become accustomed to purified water, you can definitely taste the chlorine and other chemicals, as well as the metals found in most tap water. Therefore, if you want to make a great Margarita, you must use purified water as well or the contaminants will affect the flavor. Bottled water is fine, as long as it tastes pure and does not have a plastic-infused flavor to it.
To make this Margarita, basically combine all in the ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake it up well, then pour into a glass with a two or three ice cubes. The recipe easily doubles – and even triples if you have a large enough shaker! So make yourself a Margarita using this recipe and let me know what you think!
- 2 oz 100% agave tequila
- 1.5 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 2 oz purified water
- Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice
- Shake vigorously
- Pour into glass with a 2-3 ice cubes
What does one do with a giant Margarita glass? Make a giant Margarita, of course! This glass was initially used to hold a Margarita birthday “cake” (actually, a bunch of cake balls) that my wife Danelle gave me (thanks Sweeties Confections and Honeydip Cupcakes). While technically this is not the World’s Largest Margarita, it is pretty big. This picture shows the glass holding the equivalent of 4 Margartias and it could probably hold several more.
For National Margarita Day, I decided to try making my own Margarita. I wanted to try to find the simplest recipe possible in order to make the most unadulterated version I could. I happened to stumble upon a recipe on a Yahoo Answers forum that seemed good to me so I decided to give it a try. The first thing I had to do was buy some tequila. This is when I discovered that the local grocery stores in my area don’t have a lot of good tequila choices. I finally settled on a bottle of Cazadores Blanco and went home where I already had some limes and agave nectar waiting for me.
The recipe I found was posted by someone calling themselves whiskeyman510. It is amazingly simple and amazingly good. I shouldn’t be surprised, as my wife and I have discovered that some of the best food we eat is made from simple, fresh ingredients. The recipe is as follows:
- Add 2 oz of tequila (one shot glass) to a cocktail shaker with ice
- Juice 1 lime into the shaker
- Add 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- Add 2 oz water
- Shake and serve over ice.
The Margarita I made from this recipe was very flavorful, with just the right balance of citrus and sweet flavors. The tequila was nice and smooth and gave just the right amount of kick without overpowering or having a bitter finish. One thing to note is that I have a reverse osmosis water system with an alkaline post-filter so the water I used was purified and remineralized. Using tap water may alter the taste, so YMMV. I’ll need to try this recipe a few more times to be sure of how good it was, but the Margarita was easy to drink and I had a few too many that day! I give it an 8.5 for now, but that rating may increase to a 9 in short order.
Whiskeyman510 pointed out that the recipe didn’t call for Triple Sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier because those are French liquors, not Mexican. Good point I thought. Given the fact that Mexico is the world’s largest producer of limes plus tequila and agave nectar are both made from the agave plant, I have decided to call this Margarita the “Pure Mexican”. Give this recipe a try and you won’t be disappointed!
Let’s just put it out there – I love margaritas. This web site is dedicated to finding the best margarita in town – wherever that town may be. Join me now – and together may we find the ultimate margarita! Salud!