What is it about beverages – they just don’t photograph very well. Of course, I was in our daughter’s kitchen, using ambient light, no background to speak of. And she didn’t have martini glasses (neither do I, for that matter). You’ll just have to trust me that this recipe is worth reading about and trying yourself. I don’t like a salt-rimmed margarita, so my glass was just kinda plain looking.
It was about 5-6 years ago when I read an in-depth article in Cooks Illustrated about margaritas. And because the prose about it was so grand, I decided I had to try it. I’m not a fan of bottled margarita mix. It’s got some kind of off flavor to my palate. It’s certainly easy; but I’d almost rather do without than have to imbibe the ready-made mix. So this recipe for the real thing, using JUST fresh lemon and lime juices plus some sugar (plus the tequila and triple sec) is SO, SO much better. I made a huge quantity (to serve 10 adults for our son-in-law’s birthday) and had about 2 cups of the lemon/lime juice leftover. The next night we invited our friends Sue and Lynn over for dinner. Lynn said, after he’d downed two of them, “this, I think, is the best margarita I’ve ever had in my life.” I concur.
What sets this recipe apart from other margarita recipes is the marinating time. What? Marinating? Yes, you marinate the juices along with some of the lemon and lime peel to give it a much more intense flavor. Indeed it does. I marinate for 24 hours, always, but the recipe says 4 hours or up to 24. The second thing about these is the use of Reposado tequila. This isn’t the cheap-cheap stuff you use here, but the aged agave Reposado variety. Maybe a little harder to find, and a bit more expensive (but not a lot). However, the liquor is more mellow, if you can say that anything that’s 70+ proof alcohol is mellow. I’ve made these 4 or 5 times in the ensuing years and have heard good reviews every time. Don’t be lazy and use just lemon juice – the drink needs both lemon and lime juices. Perfect for a warm afternoon or a dinner outside!
Recipe: Chris Kimball, America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook, 2001
Notes: Depending on how sour or sweet your lemons are, you may need to tinker with the sugar quantity. Taste it. Know that the drink is potent, but taste for sweetness. I used mostly Meyer lemons in mine, and they’re sweeter than regular lemons, so the 1/4 cup of superfine sugar was sufficient.
4 teaspoons grated lemon rind — or 3-5 shaved pieces of peel
4 teaspoons grated lime rind — or 3-5 shaved pieces of peel
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar — superfine, if available
1 pinch salt
2 cups crushed ice
1 cup tequila — 100% agave, Reposado
1 cup Triple Sec (not Cointreau; Bols brand triple sec is the best)
1. Shave pieces of lemon and lime to use for the marinating (easier to remove). Or, use a rasp grater. In a large liquid measuring cup combine lemon and lime zests, juices and sugar. Stir to combine, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
2. Remove peels, or strain the juice mixture to remove zests and pour into a 6-cup pitcher. Add tequila and triple sec and the pinch of salt. Stir to combine and refrigerate to chill the liquor.
3. You may also add the mixture and ice to a blender to give you a even more mellow drink (my preference).
4. Pour into 5 glasses. If you want salt-edged glasses, squeeze some lemon juice into a flat plate or saucer (just larger than the glass you’ll serve it in), then lightly touch the rims into margarita salt, pour margaritas in the glasses and serve immediately.
Per Serving: 325 Calories; trace Fat (0.2% calories from fat); trace Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 31mg Sodium.
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