The Margarita is one of my favorite cocktails. Unfortunately, it's one of those drinks that can be absolutely tragic to order at a bar. You can end up with a beverage that's any number of these: sickly sweet, watery, unbalanced, as big as your head. Just like it's tropical friend, Pina Colada, a lot of injustice has been done to the Margarita.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some bars (often legitimate cocktail bars at the higher end of the classy spectrum) make Margaritas with a lot of tequila, fresh lime juice and a mere touch of simple syrup or sour mix. So you're pretty much drinking a tequila martini. This is supposed to be more authentic, but I like some sweetness in my Margaritas. So, this recipe is a nice balance between the too syrupy and too austere versions of the drink.
And, of course, you can make it more or less sweet according to your taste. That's why I like making Margaritas at home. My husband came up with a really great and easy homemade sour mix that we use for all sorts of cocktails. You do not have to make simple syrup or heat anything at all. He just combines agave syrup with fresh lemon and lime juice in a jar and shakes it up. If you don't want to use agave, you can substitute simple syrup.
I uploaded these pictures before I realized that Cinco de Mayo is actually right around the corner. Total coincidence. Happy drinking!
kosher salt if desired
1/2 oz triple sec
Cut the lime in half crosswise, then cut a wedge off one of the halves. Cut a slit in the flesh of the lime wedge and run it around the rim of the glass. Dip in salt if desired (avoid getting too much salt on the inner rim so it doesn't "season" your drink). Stick the lime wedge on the glass for garnish.
Add tequila, sour mix, triple sec and all the juice you can squeeze out of the remaining lime halves to a cocktail shaker. Add a handful of ice and shake well. Taste and correct the proportions to suit your tastes. Strain into glass. You can serve on the rocks if you want. I like it straight up, then I add one or two ice cubes if it gets warm as I'm drinking it.
Easy Agave Sour Mix
Agave is about 25% sweeter than sugar, so we add extra citrus, rather than using an equal amount. These quantities needn't be exact, so feel free to use more or less citrus in your mix. Look for light-colored agave nectar since it is generally milder in flavor.
1/2 cup light-colored agave nectar
5 tbsp fresh lime juice
5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Add all the ingredients to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until combined. Keeps in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.