I have figured out my Perfect Classic Margarita. It is refreshing, simple, with just the right balance of tequila and lime–a Mexican fiesta in a glass! Ole! Here in Texas we enjoy them year round and I’d sometimes get disappointed when I ordered a Margarita with my Mexican dinner—and didn’t know why. Between my internet search, and my hubby’s efforts, we found the winning combination for a delightfully satisfying Classic Margarita; and I’ll show you how to find your perfect Margarita too.
In my search for the perfect margarita I scoured the internet which led me to a few basic principles which made it simpler. I found that although the basic elements are few, the variety within each element can make a big difference, and will take the flavors in different directions. Whoa!
Things it’s helpful to know are which of the four tequila varieties you should choose, and why: Silver, also called Blanco, Reposado, Anejo, or Extra Anejo. Decisions, decisions, decisions–pricey Premium tequila? Which brand? A mixer or fresh lime juice, frozen or on the rocks, with a salted Margarita glass, or simply as a highball to sip slowly? All these will be according to your personal taste and you will soon join me in saying, “Ole!”
Which Tequila—Inexpensive or Premium?
You want tequila that is 100% agave tequila, and that is what makes it a “Premium Tequila”. Why? If it isn’t 100%, then it has had (possible cheap) ingredients added to it. Mexican law requires that all tequilas contain a minimum of 51% fermented sugars from the blue agave plant, so that left over 49% may be something you won’t like.
Silver, or Blanco variety is usually un-aged, is “crisper” than the other smoother, aged varieties, and is good for your first taste of a premium 100% agave tequila, since it retains most of the characteristics of the agave plant for your first Margarita trial. Later, you can try it with fun flavors.
Reposado means “rested”, so this variety has been aged in large oak barrels for 2 months to a year, and is a frequent choice for Margaritas. The tequila combines the sweetness of the agave with the more complex flavors of the oak barrels. Some of these barrels are from previous vintages, some from bourbon barrels, and this yields a wide spectrum of flavors.
Anejo is aged in oak barrels too, for 1 to 3 years. These “golden” tequilas have had even more time to develop complex flavors. It should be very smooth, unless it is a less expensive one—you get what you pay for folks.
Extra Anejo is the most expensive, and has been aged for a minimum of 3 years in oak barrels the same as the Anejo ones. This is the smoothest and is usually slowly sipped by itself.
A few brands I can recommend: Anejo–Patron; Reposados–Herradura, Don Julio, Cuervo Tradicional, Sauza Hornitos; Silver–Herradura, Patron, Don Julio. Please know that I am not receiving any compensation for any brands named.
Fresh lime or mixer?
A freshly squeezed lime gives the best lime flavor. A premixed sweet and sour mixer may be convenient, but disappointing and yucky.
Sweeteners and liqueurs for the fresh lime juice in a margarita is Triple Sec, or Cointreau, Patron Citronge, Grand Marnier, etc. You can also make a Simple Syrup: Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar in a pan, over medium heat; stir together until sugar is dissolved. Cool before using.
Classic margarita ingredients
Simple steps to help you discover your personal taste– (Ole!–Right?)
The least expensive: go to your favorite restaurant when it’s not busy; talk to the bartender. Explain that you want to learn about margarita, starting with a Premium Silver 100% agave tequila, fresh lime juice, and Simple Syrup and/or Triple Sec. Nothing else—no mixers, no Cointreau. Get it to the level of desired sweetness.
Next, a Premium Reposado. Find the one you like best. Do a taste test with friends, trying a sip of several. Then, add the rest of the ingredients: fresh lime juice, and simple Syrup and/or Triple Sec. No Cointreau.
Then, continue with the Premium Reposado, fresh lime juice, and add one from this liqueur list: Cointreau, Patron Citronge, Grand Marnier, etc.
Some typical restaurant margaritas and how they differ, can be found after the recipe for The Perfect Classic Margarita.
2 ounces Premium Tequila (Sauza Hornitas suggested) 1 ounce lime juice (1-2 limes) 2 tablespoons Simple Syrup 2 ounces lemon-lime soda ½ cup ice cubes or crushed ice Garnish for the rim of the glass: Zest of ½ lemon 2 teaspoons Kosher salt Typical restaurant margaritas, and how they differ: Try out our Classic Margarita Recipe and post your results below in the comments…
How to make a Classic Margarita
Zest of 1 lime
2 ounces Premium Tequila (Sauza Hornitas suggested)
1 ounce lime juice (1-2 limes)
2 tablespoons Simple Syrup
2 ounces lemon-lime soda
½ cup ice cubes or crushed ice
Garnish for the rim of the glass:
Zest of ½ lemon
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Typical restaurant margaritas, and how they differ:
Try out our Classic Margarita Recipe and post your results below in the comments…