This is the tale of one girl and her quest for the holy grail of margaritas. I have loved margaritas since I became of legal drinking age. It was one of the first cocktails I tried and has remained dear to my heart over the years. Shortly after I turned 21, I was promoted to bartender at the local Black Angus where I was a part-time hostess while going to school. I was trained by two powerhouse gals, Kandy and April. The three of us became fast friends and often went out for cocktails together after our shifts. Monday’s were special evenings for us since it was the only evening all 3 of us had off and Ally McBeal was on!! I looooooove Ally McBeal! So each Monday, we would congregate to Kandy’s home for dinner, Ally McBeal, and of course, margaritas. We would debate over our prefered tequilas, and mixers all the time. However we all agreed that the Cadillac margarita was, by far, the best type of margarita out there.
The Cadillac Margarita is considered by many, the best margarita out there. It is always made with top shelf ingredients and augmented with an orange liquor, typically Grand Mariner or Cointreau. Most Mexican restaurants will have a version of this on their cocktail menu, just look for the most expensive one. Believe me, it’s worth the extra couple of bucks!
One of my goals for the summer was to do a couple of blog posts showcasing my favorite cocktails. This was at the top of the list. But in all honesty, it had been some time since I made a margarita for myself. Why? The only way I knew how to make them is with sweet and sour mix. Now, when I was 21, I didn’t care very much about what I put in my body, so sweet and sour mix seemed just dandy. These days, my tastes have sophisticated particularly in the margarita department. A freshly made margaritas with real limes is far superior to that bottled crap. I mean, look at the ingredient list:
Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Acacia Gum, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Polysorbate 60, Natural Flavors, Ester Gum, Sodium Metabisulfite (Preservative), Calcium Disodium EDTA (to Protect Flavor), Yellow 5, Yellow 6.
No thank you!! I firmly believe all margarita lovers should unite and shout:
Good lord Faye Dunaway was terrifying!! Do you think if a bartender saw that coming at them they would serve that garbage? I think not!
So I try to keep my margarita drinking to places with a reputation for quality cocktails. However, I have learned that even these places will cheat. I went to a certain swanky Mexican fusion restaurant in downtown Bellevue (the hoity toity neighbor of Seattle) recently where it says at the top of the cocktail menu: All Margaritas are crafted with 100% Blue Agave tequila and fresh juices…. and then I watched the bartender fill up half the glass with sour mix! I couldn’t believe it! I had half a mind to say something but decided against it since it was happy hour and I was already getting the drink for half price.
And why am I so particular about quality margaritas? It’s one of those things where once you have an exemplar, there is no turning back.
Which brings us to last June where I found myself at a teacher professional development summit in San Diego. Having never been to San Diego, it was only natural to spend the evenings exploring the area. On our last night, we decided to check out a Mexican Restaurant in the Gas Light District called La Puerta. La Puerta takes great pride in what they serve, practically everything is made fresh daily with the best ingredients. This is the place where I had The Best Margarita EVER!!! …. and another….. and another. The angels came down from heaven, Jimmy Buffet started singing, I was riding a unicorn on the beach…. you get the idea. It was beyond perfection. After getting down off my unicorn I grabbed the menu and took another look at the ingredients. Pure agave tequila, ok. Cointreau, sure. Lime, duh! Agave nectar….. huh? Never heard of that. After some brief googling I learned that it’s a natural sweetener much like maple syrup but made from the same plant that renders tequila. A ha! This is the key to getting past the sweet and sour mix problem. If I add a little of this, some sweetened lime juice and fresh lime, we should be in business!! And boy, were we ever!! So why don’t I shut up already and tell you how to make it right?? Right!
- 1 oz. pure agave tequila – Cazadores and Hornitos are my favorites.
- 1/2 oz Grand Mariner or Cointreau
- 1 lime wedge
- 1 oz sweetened lime juice
- 1 tbsp agave nectar – you can find this in the organic baking section of your local grocery store
- 1 oz water
- kosher salt (optional)
Tools: Cocktail Shaker and Muddler
Add tequila, Grand Mariner, and the lime wedge to a cocktail shaker and muddle.
Add sweetened lime juice, agave nectar, and water to the cocktail shaker and shake.
Salt the rim of your glass and add ice.
Strain liquid into glass and enjoy!