Margaritas | foodsciencenerd.com

Homemade Margaritas: The only way to make tequila worth drinking

Posted on Posted in Recipes

To continue this home-bar streak, I decided to make margaritas one night.  However, not knowing anything about how an actual margarita is made, I had to turn to the experts.  In this case, Alton Brown is the go-to cocktail genius.  Fortunately, his cocktail shows (Raising the Bar [again]) are on Netflix, so not only do I have a recipe, but I also have a role model.  My boyfriend and I actually watched both of these shows in preparation without knowing that the other person had also watched them, so we were uber-prepared.  Anyway, the ingredients are as follows:

2 ounces 100 percent agave silver/blanco tequila, divided (we got 1800 tequila- better than Cuervo but cheaper than Patron)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 limes, divided
1/2 Valencia orange
2 tablespoons light agave nectar
3/4 cup ice cubes, about 3 to 5
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Now, I don’t like agave nectar in any form I’ve ever had it.  It kind of “bites back” in some sense, so it isn’t the best sugar substitute in my book (actually, substituting sugar with anything is pointless, in most cases. Sugar is sugar is sugar, regardless of what plant/beehive it came from.  Whatever flavor you like, just use it!).  So, I decided to also make simple syrup, which is just equal parts water and white sugar, heated on the stove top until the sugar dissolves, and cooled to room temperature.

To go all America’s Test Kitchen on this, we decided to have a blind taste test.  I made 2 margaritas- one with agave and one with simple syrup.  My boyfriend tried each without knowing which was which, and, surprisingly, agave won!  Even I liked the agave better, and I started out biased against it.  The bite actually works nicely with the citrus and tequila, and it’s neat that it comes from the same plant as tequila!

Margaritas | foodsciencenerd.com

 

To actually assemble the drinks  (straight from the Good Eats website, but correcting the multiple typos):

“Pour 1/2-ounce of the tequila into a small saucer. Spread the kosher salt in a separate small saucer. Dip the rim of a martini or other wide-rimmed glass into the tequila. Lift out of the tequila and hold upside down for 10 seconds to allow for slight evaporation. Next, dip the glass into the salt to coat the rim. Set aside.

Halve 2 of the limes, cut a thin slice for garnish from 1, and set aside. Juice the halved limes into the bottom of a Boston-style cocktail shaker. Cut the remaining 2 limes and the 1/2 orange into quarters and add them to the juice in the shaker. Add the agave nectar and muddle for 2 minutes until the juices are released. Strain the juice mixture through a cocktail strainer into the top of the shaker (or the original juicer) and discard the solids.

Return the juice to the bottom of the shaker, add the remaining 1 1/2 ounces of tequila and any remaining on the saucer. Add the ice to the shaker, cover, and shake for 30 seconds. Strain the mixture through a cocktail strainer into the prepared glass, garnish with reserved lime slice, and serve immediately.”

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But I do have some side notes:

  1. Notice this recipe does not involve a mix or triple sec.  YAY.  It actually tastes like fruit.
  2. I had to set up a cocktail-making station on my dining room table because this requires so many various dishes that I ran out of room in the kitchen (my kitchen was clearly designed by someone who lives off of canned soup and TV dinners).  I’d recommend getting a small trash bag/can to toss dry rinds and ice cubes into if you’re making multiple drinks in succession (you can only make one at a time in a typical 24-oz shaker).
  3. I only used one of the limes in the muddling step, and we had plenty of juice (actually, this makes so much juice that we had to “refill” our glasses to prevent spilling.  Don’t fill the glasses too full or the salt rim dissolves!
  4. Muddling limes is not easy, but this step is important because it draws out the essential oils in the peels of the fruit.
  5. It’d be totally possible to prep a lot of this ahead of time and/or in bigger batches.  The limes could definitely be juiced early, and the muddling step could probably be done in a big bowl and strained through a sieve.
  6. Can you make this into a frozen margarita by just blending it with ice? No.  The ice severely dilutes the drink (and dulls the tastebuds) and the alcohol-salt combo melts the ice very quickly- find a completely different recipe specially designed for frozen margaritas if you want that instead!
  7. This recipe clearly takes a lot of effort.  It’s quite a workout and takes a lot of time, dishes, ingredients, and space.  But is it worth it? Absolutely.  It’s unlike any margarita I’ve ever had, and I mean that as the highest of compliments.

I also made a version with blood orange instead of Valencia orange.  It’s beautiful, but blood oranges are a lot tarter than Valencia, so be prepared!  If you’re sensitive to sour but want that gorgeous red color, add a touch more agave.

Margaritas | foodsciencenerd.com

Now, all this fruit together creates a drink that is about 14 oz, and only 2 of those ounces are alcohol and less than one is agave.  That means 82% of this drink is pure citrus, which is higher than a lot of juices sold in stores… that makes this a health drink, right??

Homemade Margaritas

Homemade Margaritas

Ingredients

  • 2 oz 100 percent agave silver/blanco tequila, divided
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 4 limes, divided
  • 1/2 Valencia orange
  • 2 Tbsp light agave nectar
  • 3/4 cup ice cubes, about 3 to 5

Directions

    Straight from Alton Brown's recipe:
  1. Pour 1/2-ounce of the tequila into a small saucer. Spread the kosher salt in a separate small saucer. Dip the rim of a martini or other wide-rimmed glass into the tequila. Lift out of the tequila and hold upside down for 10 seconds to allow for slight evaporation. Next, dip the glass into the salt to coat the rim. Set aside.
  2. Halve 2 of the limes, cut a thin slice for garnish from 1, and set aside. Juice the halved limes into the bottom of a Boston-style cocktail shaker. Cut the remaining 2 limes and the 1/2 orange into quarters and add them to the juice in the shaker. Add the agave nectar and muddle for 2 minutes until the juices are released. Strain the juice mixture through a cocktail strainer into the top of the shaker (or the original juicer) and discard the solids.
  3. Return the juice to the bottom of the shaker, add the remaining 1 1/2 ounces of tequila and any remaining on the saucer. Add the ice to the shaker, cover, and shake for 30 seconds. Strain the mixture through a cocktail strainer into the prepared glass, garnish with reserved lime slice, and serve immediately.
http://www.foodsciencenerd.com/homemade-margaritas-the-only-way-to-make-tequila-worth-drinking/

4 thoughts on “Homemade Margaritas: The only way to make tequila worth drinking

  1. Oh but there are tequilas worth drinking on their own! Maybe its just a subjective taste issue 🙂 I do love a good Margarita, though. I personally prefer to use a good orange liqueur or triple sec along with a good tequila. Of course, I sip (good) tequila on its own so we probably do not agree on tequila :). Looks like a good recipe though. Most people just pour cheap tequila and cheaper mix from the grocery store into a glass with ice. May as well not bother!

    1. Haha I have no doubt that there are tequilas worth sipping (and I’d be perfectly happy to give them a try), but not on a grad student budget! But as for mid-range tequila, I think this is the only way. I find additional liqueurs cloyingly sweet, but of course that’s a personal preference. And cheap tequila with cheap mix?? …I’d rather drink water!

I'd love to hear your thoughts!