|Anson's margarita in the front, with salt. Sarah's in the back, no salt.|
But there is one thing that I would consider myself a snob about, and that is margaritas. Too many sickly sweet or artificially sour margaritas over the years led me to give up on them completely. I started to associate them with other trends from the 1980s (shoulder pads, body swap movies and Dallas) that would have better stayed with us in memory, and banished these tacky fabrications to the same back room as apple martinis.
Anson discovered a love for tequila and proper margaritas at Tommy's Restaurant in San Francisco, and so we tried customizing bottled mix at home to come up with our own margarita recipe, adding lime juice, lemon juice, cranberry--anything that might improve it. No luck, it was impossible to get past the artificial flavors and aftertaste.
Then I read somewhere that true margaritas are just tequila with a squeeze of lime and maybe a splash of Cointreau. Now that actually sounded like a margarita that I could get behind! So we started making them at home with variations on those ingredients, and whatever new tequila that Anson had come across lately. We stuck to fresh squeezed limes, good tequila, a little orange liqueur to sweeten it, and we really came to like the way a splash of orange juice rounded it out. Suddenly a margarita didn't taste like something out of a laboratory, it tasted like sunshine and fruit and tequila. Those bottled mixes would never see the light of day at our house again.
If you are in a part of the country where the leaves will soon turn color and snow will begin to fall, keep this recipe in your back pocket. Take it out in February when you need a little summery inspiration to get you through to spring. Here in Southern California, September can often be the hottest month of the year, so we'll be sure to have limes and tequila at the ready for the next couple weeks.
makes 2 drinks
1/4 cup tequila
1/3 cup Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
Quarter of an orange
Squeeze the limes into a small pitcher to make 1/2 cup juice. Squeeze in the quarter orange (you are just looking for a splash of it). Add the alcohol, stir and pour into rocks glasses filled with ice. Rim the glasses with coarse salt, if you like.
Variations: Key lime juice, Meyer lemon juice instead of orange juice, almond flavored tequila
(Hint: the best juicer is the one in the picture above, an enameled lime squeezer. Put the limes in with the cut side towards the holes, so they turn inside out when you squeeze them.)