Perfect Cinco de Mayo Margaritas

Cooking How-To, Entertaining, Holidays, How-To, Recipes, Special Occasions
on May 5, 2011
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As I get older and my palate changes (along with my capacity to withstand the effects of alcohol), I have come to appreciate quality over quantity when it comes to cocktails. These days, I peruse liquor stores searching for interesting new liqueurs and small-batch spirits, and I've made some delicious discoveries.

But I also love the classics, and a margarita remains high on my list of go-to potables. I personally prefer the frozen version, but over ice works, too. To make yours as good as mine will be, try these tips and my recipe for a perfect Cinco de Mayo margarita—and don't skimp on the fresh lime juice. It makes all the difference!

  • Start with a good quality tequila—preferably one that is reposado (aged) and made with 100% agave.
  • Skip the triple sec and use a better grade of orange liqueur instead. Try Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Patron Orange Liqueur (my personal pick).
  • Don't accept just any lime your produce section has to offer. Look for small thin-skinned limes—they're the juiciest.
  • The perfect iced margarita ratio: 2 parts tequila to 1 part lime juice and 1 part orange liqueur. Mix in a pitcher and serve over ice in salt-rimmed glasses with slices or wedges of fresh lime. If you like yours on the sweet side, add a little simple syrup before or after pouring.
  • For frozen margaritas, up the dosage on the lime juice and toss in a pinch or two of kosher salt; serve with a floater of orange liqueur on top. Skip the salted rims—the melting condensation just makes a mess of it anyway.
  • To shake it up and try something new, add fresh strained fruit purees to the mix. Peaches, strawberries, mango, watermelon and blackberries will all yield yummy results. A jigger of Amaretto will transform a margarita, as will a little melon liqueur and pineapple juice.

—By Stacey Norwood, Multimedia Editor