One of the things we love about tequila is that it is equally enjoyably sipped neat as it is in cocktails. Tequila’s versatility has helped make it the key ingredient in the most frequently ordered cocktail in the United States, the Margarita. Although the Margarita is so common and fundamentally simple, it’s a drink which is often mutilated, adulterated, and generally fouled up. The key to making a great Margarita, or any tequila drink for that matter, is the use of fresh citrus. There is no mix in the world that will come close to even the most clumsily prepared Margarita made with fresh lime juice.
While many classic Margarita recipes call for Cointreau, we feel that it’s an unnecessary inclusion in a drink that is best made with only 3 ingredients (we feel the same way about salt as well).
Our favorite margarita recipe comes from Tommy’s Margarita Bar in San Francisco and tequila icon Julio Bermejo:
2 oz Blanco Tequila
1 oz lime juice (must be fresh squeezed)
1 oz agave syrup (diluted 1:1 nectar/water)
Shake and strain over cracked ice (no need to salt the rim).
That’s it. Three ingredients and the result (even if you don’t have the best shake in the world) is nothing short of amazing. We recommend that you use a 100% agave tequila, because with so few ingredients, the tequila you use here REALLY matters, so don’t use a bottom shelf mixto. For our Margaritas we prefer using Tequila Avion Silver, Don Julio Blanco, Tequila Pueblo Viejo or Tequila Cabebeza all which do extremely well in the drink. For more on the Margarita, be sure to listen to our How to Make A Margarita Podcast.
Not all great tequila drinks are citrus based, and this next one is a great variation on a classic from bar star Ricky Gomez. It’s one of the best tequila and mezcal drinks we’ve ever had:
Oaxaca Old Fashioned
2 oz Reposado Tequila (El Tesoro recommended)
1/2 oz Mezcal (if you’ve got it we recommend Del Maguy Chichicapa)
1/4 oz agave nectar
2 dashes of Angostura and one dash of Regan’s orange bitters
Build in a rocks glass. Add ice and stir. Grapefruit zest.
Del Maguey Chichicapa isn’t cheap, but when lime prices skyrocket (as they’ve been known to do), it seems downright affordable. You can also substitute Del Maguey Vida or Piedra Almas’ La Puritita Verda for a cocktail that won’t break the bank.
While it isn’t as easy to prepare (due to the chili tincture) as Tommy’s Margarita or Ricky Gomez’s Oaxaca Old Fashioned, Erik Adkins’ Carter Beats The Devil (created for Flora in Oakland, California) could very well be the ultimate tequila drink. It easily ranks among the top 10 tequila cocktails we’ve ever had.
Carter Beats The Devil
2 oz Reposado Tequila
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. organic agave nectar
1/4 oz. Maguey Minero Mezcal
20 drops (eye dropper) of chili tincture*
*To make chili tincture, cover Thai chili with overproof rum for two weeks, strain.
Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice, shake well and pour, straining out the ice.
Carter Beats The Devil is a tequila lovers dream – it pulls everything we love about tequila together with wonderful spice from the Thai chili and smoky goodness from mezcal. It’s one of the world’s great tequila cocktails.
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