As anyone who went to college with me knows, tequila has not traditionally been kind to me (nor I to it). However, during a recent trip to Mayahuel, Phil Ward’s new tequila haven in the East Village, I was reminded that there’s a big difference between a crafted tequila cocktail and shots of Jose Cuervo in a dive bar.

Ingredients for a MargaritaMy bartender at Mayhuel, Kevin (and at times, Phil Ward), were kind enough to give me a modern survey of tequila and mezcal (tequila’s cousin), but it really all begins with the Margarita. A simple cocktail that allows the flavor of a good tequila to lead, the Margarita is the perfect way to reintroduce yourself to tequila if you, like I, might have had an “unpleasant” experience in the past.

The real key is quality tequila. This is not a time to take the value route. You want the good stuff – 100% pure blue agave tequila. Take it from a guy who knows – choosing tequila isn’t the time to pinch pennies. For this recipe, I’ve chose Siembra Azul Blanco tequila, which I’ve found to be an excellent balance of quality and affordability. And no, they haven’t paid me a dime to say that.

Here’s what you’re going to need:

1.5oz tequila
1oz Cointreau (some people use triple sec; I prefer Cointreau)
3/4oz fresh lime juice (the “fresh” part is important – no frozen stuff)
1/2oz simple syrup (this is optional; I prefer mine just a little sweet)

Margarita straight up with saltCombine your ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake well, and strain into a glass. The real variation among margaritas comes in the serving:

  • Some people prefer their margarita on the rocks, in which case, just strain the margarita into a rocks glass over ice. Otherwise, strain into a cocktail glass with no ice.
  • Some people prefer a salted rim on their margarita, in which case, before straining the cocktail, simply run a lime wedge along the outer rim of the glass, and roll the edge of the glass in kosher salt.

Thankfully, I’ve experience my tequila reawakening just in time for summer – the perfect season for margaritas. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


Tags: cocktail, cointreau, lime, Mayahuel, simple syrup, summer, tequila, triple sec

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