You don’t grow up two hours north of the Texas-Mexico border and not acquire a taste for margaritas. For the beginner margarita drinker, lesson number one is: Not all margaritas are created equal. Most store-bought mixes are way (way) too sweet. If it’s neon green, don’t expect it to taste like an authentic, fresh margarita. Also, if it’s frozen and spins around in a margarita machine, stick to wine. To turn you into a margarita connoisseur, we need to steer you away from store-bought margarita mix and give you a homemade margarita alternative.
Every margarita has the same basic ingredients: tequila, lime juice, and a splash of orange. Consider this your baseline for creativity.
If you’re going to spend money on tequila, spend enough to spare yourself a hangover — no plastic bottles, por favor. If the tequila is poor quality, there is no amount of sugar you can throw in this to make it salvageable. A mid-range (or higher), clear tequila works perfectly in this drink.
The lime juice is where most people lose points. It’s so easy to grab a couple bottles of the neon green stuff on the mixer aisle, but think about this: The mixer will be the primary taste in your margarita. Does that stuff even look appetizing? Instead, make your own. You can control the sweetness by using fresh lime juice. Next time you see limes on sale, buy a ton, set some time aside to juice them and strain out the pulp. You can portion the juice into bags in one-cup servings and freeze them until you’re ready for your next Margarita Monday.
Most people reach for Triple Sec to satisfy the splash of orange requirement, but there’s a better option on the shelves of your liquor store! You can use Patron Citronge Orange Liqueur for a much smoother taste.
With the basics understood, you’re ready to garnish. Salt the rim (or not), add a slice of lime or orange, or for a little kick, add a jalapeño-stuffed olive — it’s the perfect salty complement to the sweetness.
Making Homemade Margaritas
To make a gallon of your own lime mixer, you’ll need:
- 1 cup fresh lime juice (no pulp)
- 1 cup raw sugar (or less if you want less sweetness)
- 1 cup water
- Additional water to equal a gallon
Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it boils, stir in the sugar until it’s dissolved, and remove it from the heat. This is your simple syrup (if you’re hosting a party, you can also make this ahead of time and store it in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to use it).
Allow this to cool a few minutes while you pour your lime juice into a pitcher. Add your cooled simple syrup, and fill the remaining space in your gallon-size pitcher with cold water.
When you’re ready to serve, throw some ice in a glass, add a shot (or two if it’s been that kind of day) of your favorite tequila, then add a splash of Patron Orange Liqueur, and fill the glass with your fresh lime mixer. Top it off with a jalapeño-stuffed olive and a tiny splash of the brine from the olive jar.
For the best results, sip and enjoy alongside your favorite milspouses.
Photo Credits: Eastern Sky Photography NC | Kristi Stolzenberg