Don't get me wrong. I'm no lush, but I do enjoy a sippy-sip in the evening. By and large, beer is not my cup of tea (once in a while, it's just the thing, particularly with food, and when I do take the trip to beer town, I go for the light and drys - I'm fond of the Mexican brands and I just adore those Japanese Tsingtaos - but it's a once in a while thing for me). Wine shows up more frequently, but what I really like are cocktails.
I like making cocktails. Making drinks is fun, and it gives me a chance to trot out my old mixological chops from my service industry days. And I like drinking cocktails. There's no end to the variety, an infinitude of possibilities, which can be matched to any mood, climate, or occasion. Dry, sweet, sophisticated, trashy, mild, boozy - it's all there.
And I tend to get on little cocktail jags, favoring a particular drink for a few days or weeks. So what's in heavy rotation these days? Margaritas ('tis the season). Let's get to the details.
First of all, throw away your Rose's lime juice or your mix from the grocery store or whatever trashy thing most people put in most margaritas to make them over-sweet and fake tasting. Second, be willing to spend a little bit of money. An excellent margarita is incredibly easy, but it does require good ingredients. There are three principal elements to my version:
Tequila: I am certainly no expert on Tequila, but a decent one will go a long way towards making a decent drink. Don't go crazy. It doesn't have to be 150 years-old and made from agave pre-masticated by little Mayan grandmothers. We've been using Sauza and like it just fine.Now for the mixing. Fill a rocks glass to the top with ice. Add a generous pour of tequila (what we used to call a "four-count"**), about 2 oz. Next, add a good splash of Cointreau (2 tablespoons if you want to get precise - and, conveniently, the cap of the small Cointreau bottle is precisely 1 tablespoon). Finally, squeeze in the juice of half a lime.
Cointreau: You will be tempted to skimp and buy Triple Sec. Don't do it. This is where it's really worth spending a few extra bucks. And you don't need a lot. Buy the smallest bottle. It will last a while (unless you're a huge drunk, but that's beyond our current scope).
Pour the contents into a cocktail shaker (or, if you're hard up, whatever sealable container you have handy), and shake it like you shook your booty on the dancefloor when you were really drunk at your highschool reunion. By which I mean vigorously. Really vigorously. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it whips the drink into a delicious, frothy frenzy. Secondly, it cracks the ice, which gives things just the right texture.
And what about salt? The choice is yours. I go either way depending on my mood. If you want salt, moisten the lip of the glass. Spread salt evenly in a small plate. Gently dip the rim until it is properly encrusted.
Finally, pour the contents of the shaker back into the glass, garnish with a wedge of lime, bow towards Mexico, and enjoy.
* This is not brand new territory. RJ and I first made our bloggy-acquaintance over a post on martinis. And I still owe Matt something on "olds fashioned."
** Said in an old-timey, miner-forty-niner, "dere's gold in dem dere hills" voice