The Margarita is one of Ivan’s favorite cocktails. I believe he enjoys these so much due to the tartness, and lower sugar content of the tequila. When he and Marc visited over Christmas Holidays, the margarita was made often. (We live in Southern Florida its summer all year here, don’t judge!) I prefer the classic myself, but one can fruit the margarita up like a pimm’s or sangria. Know that when margaritas are fruited they tend to gather more sweetness from the fruit.
A classic margarita is a simple, and much more elegant quaff than most expect. This cocktail has a crusted rim much like a Brandy Crusta, however I prefer only half the rim is salted. Freedom from salt is a nice break, especially if you use a good or great tequila. A classic margarita is four simple ingredients, Blanco Tequila, Cointreau (or an orange liquor like Grand Mariner, Triple Sec, or Dry Curacao) Lime Juice, and simple syrup.
Sugar Free Options
For Ivan, who does not enjoy sugar, I used Xylitol Syrup. Not familiar? It looks and tastes like sugar, but with fewer calories and does not raise blood sugar. (I googled it to tell you that tidbit). I made the syrup with 1 part xylitol 2 parts water as it is very sweet. From there the Margarita recipe remains the same. This should hold true with any sugar substitute, but taste it first to be sure.
Blanco Tequila. Cointreau. Lime. Cane Syrup.
A classic margarita is a simple, and much more elegant quaff than most expect, too many margaritas are blender drinks with harsh tequilas.
- 2 ounces of Blanco Tequila (good quality please it's worth it)
- 3/4 ounce Fresh Lime Juice
- 3/4 ounce Cointreau
- 1/4 ounce Simple Syrup, or a substitute non sugar syrup such as xylitol
- 1 Lime wedge of rimming, and garnish
- Kosher Salt
Run lime wedge around entire rim of an old fashioned glass, and rim 1/2 in kosher salt by pouring salt on a small plate and carefully turning outer rim of glass through it.
Add remaining ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
Shake of ice.
strain into the glass.
Garnish with the lime at one end of the salt rim.
Creating Great Craft Cocktails
Over the years I have made a large number of cocktails, but it was not until about the last year I focused on making great ones. Previously, I made the usual drinks. Like a blender full of frozen strawberries, a bunch of rum, lime juice and sugar, for a strawberry daiquiri sort of thing. Around a 2018 I began seriously studying cocktails in earnest. Because of this deeper dedication the quality of my cocktails improved to craft mixologist level.
There were three things that helped the most, and two of them were probably not surprising. The two that are simply logical are high quality ingredients and knowledge of technique. The final element was a study in depth of cocktail history. I found I needed a base of knowledge to guide me and my ability to make amazing cocktails others will like.
The Similarity Between Cocktails and Cuisine
Creating an excellent meal is similar to creating an excellent cocktail. In contrast though cocktails are faster and much less forgiving. Rarely do cocktails have more than 6 ingredients. Also as rarely, they are not prepared over a long period of time usually less than 2 minutes. Similar to cuisine, people like what they like. If someone hates lobster, no mater how well you prepare it, its still lobster. I have found the same goes for alcohol, gin haters can taste gin, and will hate it.
Cocktails, like cuisine, are about balance. Balance in food comes from 6 profiles, which are, sweet, sour, spicy salty, bitter, and unmami. Cocktails balance on only four, those are sweet, sour, boozy and dilution. Therefore by paying attention to the balance it is far easier to make a great cocktail.
Three Aspects of a Great Cocktail
High Quality Ingredients
High quality is harder in cocktails than one might expect, the non alcoholic ingredients have shelf lives, and take effort. The alcoholic ingredients can be very expensive and, at times of a limited usefulness. Making syrups, and always having fresh fruit on hand is important. As is having the proper liquor. But if you want something like a Corpse Revivier #2, possibly one of the most balanced and perfectly made cocktails, you will need Lilet, but how often will you use it? In a vesper maybe,or a Lilet cocktail, but it’s not a common ingredient. High quality is hard in cocktails. It took me over a year to build my bar, which is currently well north of 100 different bottles. I really had to commit. Not everyone has to go to this level, but having expensive straggler bottles is a side effect.
I came to realize that professional mixologists have a huge leg up on me. They mix many more drinks than I ever will. To learn technique I had to make, and most times drink a bunch of cocktails. Also I had to buy a full kit of real bar stuff. Things like shakers, mixing glasses, bitters, ice cube trays, its a long list. But it helped.
Finally, I needed to research the history, which is important for me. I have built a little society of friends who are “cocktail historians” like me, and it really helps. I also have quite a few historical books I draw upon. Knowing what something is, and where it came from is powerful. Especially in knowing how to make it, and how to develop a wholly new cocktail.
So please join me on my journey, with whatever effort you want to put in. I will be doing, and drinking, the research, and trying new things. So we can all enjoy a cocktail together.
Enjoy our island cocktails: