Other than occasional outings to Mexican restaurants, tequila is about the last thing I’d ordered off of a menu, let alone drink at home. Then, our friend Jason introduced us to the best margarita I’ve ever had, and now, for the past year or so, it’s been in regular rotation at our house. And what friend of yours would I be if I didn’t teach you how to make the perfect margarita, which is actually quite simple?
Traveling to Mexico
I think, like many Americans, Mexico was my first “international” trip: first via cruise ship, then later via my senior trip. Yet, despite the ease and affordability of traveling to Mexico, I haven’t done it in years. In fact, it’s yet another place SVV and I have yet to travel together! The last time I was there was when I was working on the ship seven years ago and we ported in Cabo, so it’s high time I add Mexico back into my travel rotation.
That said, pre-crisis, I was looking at some $200 flights to Mexico City and then adding on a long weekend in Isla Holbox to dive with the whale sharks. I really love Mexico and have yet to do any underwater exploration on the Caribbean side. To date, all my Mexico diving was in Cabo, which is a gorgeous vacation destination with rough waters (the Pacific is not my favorite coast for scuba).
I think when many Americans think of Mexico, they automatically envision the chaos and cluster of Cancun, but there are SO many great parts of Mexico beyond the Yucatán Peninsula (and many spots within the peninsula that are not overrun like Cancun and Playa del Carmen).
The history of the margarita
Like so many cocktails, I’m finding out, it seems the history of who invented the margarita is a hotly-contested issue. I guess that’s no surprise really: I mean, wouldn’t you want credit for introducing what is probably one of today’s most widely-consumed cocktails, at least in the United States?
Some say Tijuana restaurant owner Carlos “Danny” Herrera invented it in 1938, while other accounts claim bartender Don Carlos Orozco invented the cocktail in 1941, when the daughter of a German ambassador, Margarita Henke, pranced into his Ensenada bar. Texas Monthly claims all credit goes to Pancho Morales, a bartender who created the margarita in Juarez during World War II.
It turns out that the margarita may have been around even before that, as during Prohibition times, the Daisy—a spin on today’s margarita using brandy instead of tequila, dating back to the 1800s—was a popular drink.
Regardless of who invented this perfect libation, tequila and mezcal are both staples of Mexican culture and the economy, so can we just send up a big “gracias” that this drink exists in the first place?
And while we’re at it, I’m not going to go into the history of Cinco de Mayo—which, contrary to widely-believed thought, is not a celebration of Mexico’s independence, but rather commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French forces of Napoleon III in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War—however, you should read about it via the History Channel if you are, in fact, celebrating tonight with tacos and margs.
How to make the perfect margarita
Let me preface this by saying that we are still staying at home for the unforeseeable future, so the ingredients I usually put in this to make the perfect margarita weren’t necessarily at my disposal when I was shooting this (because, well, we drank them all at Charlotte’s birthday party last month!). But still, make do with what you have, because it’s more about the proportions anyway.
And also, because we had some blood oranges about to go bad, we added a bit of flavor to this batch in the 11th hour, and I’m not hating it. Rather, it was quite delicious!
Ingredients for the perfect margarita
- 2 ounces of tequila blanco
- 2 ounces of Combier
- 2 ounces of fresh-squeezed blood orange (optional)
- 1 ounce of organic unsweetened lime juice
- a salt rim (optional)
In terms of which tequila to use, this is up to personal preference. We’ve been buying Casamigos blanco for awhile now as the price point—at least at our favorite liquor warehouse, Frugal MacDoogal in Nashville—is great. When we’re serving margaritas in a larger capacity, like at a party, we’ll often use el Jimador, which comes in much larger bottles at a lower price. Either way, find a tequila blanco that you like and stick with it!
Combier, which bills itself as “the world’s first triple sec,” is superior to any other citrus liqueur you will find; however, it’s also not widely-available. We’ve not been able to get it since retail shut down this spring, so we subbed Grand Marnier in place of it this time. If you can find Combier, use it instead; trust me on this.
Ditto to our usual unsweetened lime juice, which we can find at most liquor stores (when we’re actually going in public, that is). This time, we subbed for the lime juice available at Publix.
How to make the perfect margarita
Prior to combining the ingredients in a glass, squeeze six to eight blood oranges, which should be enough juice for one round of cocktails, put them in a separate glass and set aside.
If you like a salt rim, take out two plates: Add a bit of water to one and salt to the other. Dip your glass into the water, then into the salt, then set aside.
Fill a shaker with ice, then combine the tequila, Combier, lime juice and blood orange in the shaker.
Shake for 30 seconds, then strain into the salted glass. Voila! Super easy.
If the blood orange is too tart for you, you can add a drop of vanilla or some agave nectar to sweeten it a bit. If you prefer another flavor, substitute your fruit of choice for the blood orange and let us know how it goes.
What’s your version of the perfect margarita? Share you favorite recipe with us in the comments!
For more cocktails around the world, check out these recipes:
- How to Make a French 75
- How to Make a White and Black Russian
- How to Make a Gin and Tonic, English-Style