Filed under Culture
Written by Jo Hombsch
Everyone loves a margarita. It’s one of the most popular cocktails on every bar menu with only three ingredients, it’s a recipe you’ll find hard to forget and one you should have up your sleeve ready for an impromptu fiesta at your next Summer BBQ.
The history around this famous drink is a little blurry, however, there are claims it was invented to sell more tequila (as one does). After chatting to those who have concocted their fair share of margarita’s, one thing everyone agreed on is that balance is the difference between a good and a bad marg.
The classic is a classic for a reason, requiring just three ingredients, tequila, orange liqueur, lime and your optional salt. As we found out the simplicity of this citrus-driven cocktail, leaves little room for error but still plenty of space for some fun.
Whether you’re into a classic on the rocks, Tommy’s or a margarita with a twist we called in 6 experts from venue owners, brand ambassadors, bartenders and an owner of a tequila brand to help us perfect our next margarita.
Let’s Start With The Classic
40ml Good quality tequila
20ml Orange liqueur
20ml Fresh lime juice
- Add all ingredients to a shaker
- Fill shaker with ice and shake hard
- Double strain into a chilled martini glass
- Garnish with a lime wedge
It all comes down to balance
#1 “It’s all about balance. To make the perfect marg, you should aim to balance the sourness of the lime with the sweetness of the triple sec. I find that adding sugar syrup can sometimes throw the margarita off balance – so instead I like to use a bit of agave, as it adds a little bit more flavour but without the intensity of sugar” – Harry Whitelegg’s, Bar Manager at CopyCat.
Be Sure To Use A Good Quality Tequila
#2 “The first thing to avoid is anything in a plastic bottle or a sombrero as the bottle cap. These are usually cheap and poorly made. You always want your tequila to be 100% agave and preferably something aged, so Reposado or Añejo Tequilas” – Harry Whitelegg’s, Bar Manager at CopyCat.
#3 “My go-to tequila at-home is Tromba Reposado or Santanera Tahona – these are really high-quality tequilas for their price point” – Whiteleggs added.
#4 Look to the “The origin, the background of the producer & how they grow the agave” – Gee Shanmugam, Bar Manager The Douglas Club.
#5 “100% blue agave tequila – it will state it on the bottle. Also, a Blanco, unaged tequila works the best. The freshness and minerality of the spirit matches with lime really well,” James Williams, Co-Founder, Apollonia.
#6 “Making sure you’re picking a 100% Agave Tequila is the first thing you want to look for. At Don Julio, we use 100% Blue Weber Agave, and display it proudly on the front of the bottle! For a great Margarita, I’d be sticking to any tequila labelled as Blanco (or, unaged) as it’s going to keep your drink really fresh and punchy.” Kate McGraw – NSW/ACT Brand Ambassador – Don Julio
Stock Your Liqueur Cabinet with these spirits
- Tequila – Tromba Blanco, Tromba Reposado, Patrón, Don Julio, Silver, Santanera Tahon, Volans Anejo, Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva Extra Añejo, Arette Suave Blanco, Calle Blanco,
- Orange Liqueur – Marionette, Patrón Citrónge Orange, Triple Sec, Cointreau
- Other Spirts – Dry Curaçao, Grand Marnier
#7 “Master distiller Marco Cedano crafts tequila for all occasions, but there’s something about the Tequila Tromba Reposado with its oak flavouring, caramelising the agave sweetness that blends perfectly with the fresh tart lime” – James Sherry, Co-Founder of Tequila Tromba.
#8 “I like tequila that has spent a bit of time in oak, as it makes the tequila rich and smooth” – Harry Whitelegg.
#9 “I’m a huge fan of Santanera Tahona at the moment and Tromba Reposado – reasonable price points for delicious tequilas. If I were spending a bit more ($200+), I’d go for Volans Anejo or Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva Extra Añejo” – Harry Whitelegg.
#10 “I love a classic Calle Blanco or Arette Suave Blanco for my margarita. Also, a dry Curaçao or Grand Marnier can be used for your Margarita in case you already have it at home” – Sarah Proietti, bartender, Maybe Sammy.
#11 “A nice quality orange liqueur if you’re going the traditional route (local legends Marionette make a nice one)” – James Sherry
#12 “Don Julio ticks all the boxes I need for a great Tequila to make a Margarita with. Don Julio Blanco is completely unaged, so what you’re getting in the bottle is as exciting of a liquid as you can get! Because of this, is packs a huge flavour punch – we’re talking lemon peel, peppercorn – even a little bit of vegetal capsicum in there as well!” – Kate McGraw
Juice your own limes
#13 “It’s quite simple. Bad tequila and fake lime juice will make a bad margarita” – James Sherry
#14 However, if store-bought juice is the only option, “That’s okay too! I like to add a pinch of salt to store-bought juice – it’ll help to wake it up and brighten the drink!” Kate McGraw.
Use good quality ice
#15 “Also, ICE! Take some time to make some quality ice cubes (for shaking and serving), so that your margarita chills nicely without diluting too much. If you’re based in Sydney, Bare Bones offers the best in the biz – perfectly clear, slow-melt ice (you can pick it up at Dan Murphy’s Alexandria and P&V Merchants in Newtown)” – James Sherry
#16 “Always opt for good quality ice, ideally full and clear cubes, to shake your drinks as this allows the best dilution and helps you deliver the best margarita. Try to avoid the classic ice cubes we all would have in our freezer as they usually melt quickly and dilute the flavour. You can buy ice moulds for larger cubes and use filtered water to create these yourself at home. Or, if you live in Sydney, you can come down to Sammy Junior, where you can buy a box of premium clear ice blocks for your home” – Sarah Proietti.
#17 “Don’t skimp on the ice! Fill your shaker all the way to the top and shake really hard for 10 seconds – it’s going to give you not only an ice-cold drink, but also one that is perfectly mixed every time without fail” – Kate McGraw.
Cointreau vrs Triple Sec Vrs Agave
#18 “The primary difference is the alcohol content – Cointreau is generally more alcoholic with an ABV of 40%, while triple sec tends to sit around the 15 – 30% mark. I’m not big on Cointreau in my margaritas as I find it gives them a syrupy, overly sweet flavour. If you’re new to margaritas, it’s always worth trying it both ways to see how you like it. For a triple sec, I typically use Combier Liqueur D’orange, otherwise, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao is a great cheaper option and more widely available” – Harry Whitelegg.
#19 “A couple of little extra tips would be to sub out the orange liqueur for an agave syrup, and add in a splash of mezcal to add a little sweet smokiness” – Jason Williams.
#20 “I use Patrón Citrónge Orange which is a pure and natural orange liqueur made from fresh premium oranges and the base spirit is Patrón Silver tequila. Made in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, it delivers a sweet and smooth fresh orange taste and amplifies the tequila flavour in my Margaritas” – Joseph Chisholm.
#21 “I love to use Cointreau. It’s an orange liqueur made from sweet and bitter orange skins. It has more ABV, creating more content, depth and complexity to the drink” – Gee Shanmugam.
#22 “Even if the original recipe doesn’t require you to add syrup, a dash of agave or simple syrup can really balance out the flavours,” – Sarah Proietti.
Let’s Talk Salt
#23 “Mix in a bit of lime zest with the salt before you rim of your glasses” – Joseph Chisholm.
#24 “Salt is also a must – you can have some fun with flavoured salt or make your own such as rosemary salt” – Jason Williams.
#25 “Mortar and pestle some quality salt with some other dry herbs or spice. Or even grate some lemon into the salt. Then crush and mix. To create a nice salt rim, take two saucers or side plates. To one, add the salt mix in a circle following the rough circumference of your glass. To the other, add some liquid such as sugar or honey water. Dip the lip upside down onto the liquid, and then to the dry salt” – Jason Williams.
#26 “A dish, some salt and a lime wedge are all you need to rim a glass for your next margarita. Run a quarter of lime all around the rim of the glass until the glass rim is really wet. Put some sea salt in a dish larger than your glass. Dip your glass in the salt. Make sure you remove any salt from inside your glass before straining your cocktail into the glass” – Joseph Chisholm.
#27 “The best way to salt a glass is by grabbing a wedge of lime and wiping it along the top 1-2 centimetres or so of the glass, before gently tapping salt over it. I like to use a soft flake salt, like Murray River Salt, for my Margaritas, which is a little softer on the palate, but any flake salt will work!” – Kate MvGraw.
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