Happy Cinco de Mayo! Chances are, you’ll be throwing back a margarita or two once the clock strikes 5 p.m. (Or maybe even earlier—we’re not judging!) We asked Estaban Ordonez, a consultant at International Cocktail Group and Manhattan’s Church Street Tavern, for a few tips that will help you take your margaritas to the next level—all summer long.
1. MAKE SURE YOU’RE ADDING ENOUGH—BUT NOT TOO MUCH—OF YOUR INGREDIENTS.
The most common mistake people make when mixing a margarita is adding way too much lime juice. “Generally, everyone says equal parts tequila and lime,” Ordonez says. Instead, here's his fool-proof recipe for a traditional margarita:
2 oz tequila (Ordonez prefers Patron Silver)1 oz fresh lime juice. .50 oz simple syrup. .50 oz triple sec (Ordonez recommends Citronge Orange liqueur)
And his recipe for “frozen perfection”:
2 oz Patron silver1.5 oz lime juice 1 oz simple syrup .50 oz Citronge 1 1/2 cup of ice
To get accurate measurements, use a jigger or an ounce measuring cup, and make sure you have a good cocktail shaker or blender on hand to mix everything up.
2. MAKE SURE YOU SHAKE, NOT STIR, YOUR MARGARITA.
You always want to shake any drink that contains citrus and fruit juices, Ordonez says. Shaking with ice not only chills the drink and blends the ingredients completely, it also introduces the tiny air bubbles that give a margarita its cloudy, frothy, and delicious appearance.
3. AVOID CONCENTRATE AND CHEAP TEQUILA.
“Your cocktail can only be as good as the worst of its ingredients,” Ordonez says, so lime concentrate and cheap tequila are a no-no. When it comes to choosing which type of tequila to use, “the best tequila for a margarita should be a silver/blanco, as the natural agave flavor and the true tequila taste are those of the un-aged spirit,” Ordonez says. He recommends looking for the same qualities you enjoy in a sipping or shooting tequila when picking your margarita tequila. “Remember, I might like soccer while you prefer football,” he says. “It’s all a matter of taste.”
4. USE THE RIGHT ICE AND LIMES.
According to Ordonez, what you’ve got in your freezer is “as good as it gets” for your margarita. If you’re not near your freezer, though, you should look for big, solid ice cubes and avoid crushed or hollow ice. When picking limes, “look for soft, shiny skin,” Ordonez says. “A light rub should reveal a rich citrus aroma.”
5. REGULAR SALT IS FINE, BUT YOU CAN ALSO KICK IT UP A NOTCH.
Ordonez prefers medium coarse sea salt, but what you choose for your margarita should depend on your flavor preference. Here’s his go-to salt recipe:
1 tbs granulated sugar1/2 tbs crushed pink peppercorns Half cup medium coarse sea salt All mixed together thoroughly
6. GET CREATIVE.
Because margaritas are very easy to make, and also very versatile, “you can pretty much go to town” with inventive ingredients, Ordonez says. Among his favorite things to add to his margaritas are kiwis, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapefruit, jalapeños, cilantro, avocados, and pineapples (both raw and grilled).