Saturday, June 10, 2006 AD

Mexitalian Margarita

Cross-posted at Aardvark Alley.

First, keep in mind the usual caveats about drinking to excess, addiction, and the like. Second, realize that all tequilas are not created equal. Cheaper tequila may use as little as 51% blue agave mixed with corn or cane sugar in fermentation (mixto); premium tequila will be pure agave. Gold tequila (tequila oro) is not aged for a significant period; caramel coloring is added to "younger" silver (plata) or white (blanca) tequila.

The better tequilas achieve their darker color through natural processes. A reposado (rested) tequila is aged, usually in oak, for about a year. An añejo (aged or vintage) tequila sits in its cask for 1 to 3 years — and maybe longer. The extremes of the spectrum are about as noticable as in whisky.

While a decent margarita can be made from any decent tequila, moving up in tequila quality will, of course, improve margarita quality. Personally, I prefer Cuervo Tradicional, a reposado, as a good meeting of price versus quality. Let your own taste and budget be your guides. (This tequila is also good in shots straight from the freezer.)

I firmly believe that a frozen margarita adds too much water (from all the ice) — a good margarita, where one can enjoy its complementing flavors fully, should be on the rocks. Chill the drink before pouring, and you'll be able to get by with minimal ice and maximal taste.

The Aardvark's Mexitalian Margarita

You'll need a pitcher or container for shaking that holds at least 58 to 64 ounces.

Start with one 12 oz. can frozen limeade (I prefer Minute Maid).

Introduce the Mexican: Pour in one can (12 oz.) — or a bit more — of your chosen tequila.

Here comes the Italian: Add 9-12 oz. (3/4 to one can) Tuaca Italian Liqueur.

Finally, add enough water to make 58-64 ounces of the completed product. (If your tap water is highly mineralized or chlorinated, you might want to choose bottled water.) Chill, shake or stir, and serve over ice in a cool (salt-rimmed optional) glass. Garnish as you desire; I prefer lime wedges. Some folks like to strain their margarita mix into the glasses. Do so if you must. I think the little bit of lime pulp adds taste and character to the drink.

Please don't drive yourself home from Margaritaville without a good night's rest.

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