I was well into my twenties before I stopped making margaritas with a store-bought mix. Not that I consumed large quantities of margaritas back then. I was more of a Absolut Citron and Tonic kinda gal in college. A drink that made me feel simultaneously cosmopolitan and not nauseous.
It wasn’t until a few years post college when I was working as a chef at Mustard’s Grill in Napa Valley that I realized margaritas were little more than fresh-squeezed lime juice, great tequila, and a splash of orange liqueur. And alas, a love was born.
It wasn’t however until last week when my sister was visiting and we were sipping on this here drink, that I realized amongst aaaalllllllllllllll the margarita recipes I have on this site not one of them are for the one I actually make most often. The one I fell in love with oh so many years ago. A classic cadillac margarita, with four simple ingredients; the best silver tequila you can afford, fresh-squeezed lime juice (none of that bottled stuff please), orange liqueur (preferably Grand Marnier), and (in my opinion) agave syrup.
Ingredients are important but I also believe technique has something to do with the overall success of the drink. How you layer the alcohol and juice in the shaker makes a difference, and not just in a margarita but all cocktails. You want to add the ice to the shaker first. Then the main alcohol (in this case tequila), then the secondary alcohol (Grand Marnier), then the syrup, and the juice on top. And really shake it until the outside of the shaker is frosty and beading with sweat.
Now before you get your panties in a wad, I fully realize that a classic Cadillac margarita does not have added sweetener. That the Grand Marnier IS the sweetener. But this is the way I like it and I urge you to try it. I like to use more lime juice than is typically called for and the sweetness of the agave balances it out just perfectly. If you still feel it is too sweet, then feel free to leave it out.
Once you’ve got this one mastered it is pretty simple to venture forth into other margarita flavors. The easiest variations simply substitute the agave syrup for a fruit-flavored syrup. Try these recipes below or hop over to the Margarita Week page for inspiration from my favorite food bloggers!
- kosher salt, for the glass
- 1 lime, cut in wedges
- 1½ shots (3 ounces) silver tequila
- ½ shot (1 ounce) Grand Marnier orange liqueur
- ½ shot (1 ounce) agave syrup
- juice of 2 limes
- Pour about ¼ cup of salt on to a small plate. Rub a lime wedge around the rim of a rocks glass. Dip glass in salt until rim is coated with salt. Fill glass with crushed ice.
- Fill a shaker halfway with ice. Pour tequila on the bottom, then Grand Mariner, agave syrup, and lime juice on top. Cover and shake vigorously until outside of the shaker is beaded with sweat.
- Pour into prepared glass, garnish with a lime wedge and enjoy.
One More Thing
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