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Tips for Making the Perfect Margarita

Tips for Making the Perfect Margarita


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Before the recent rise in cocktail culture, mangled margaritas were the norm. The most popular tequila-based drink in the U.S., this is a mixed drink that even the cheesiest, low-quality bars proffer. Some cheap tequila, no-name orange liqueur, ice, and "sour mix," swirled in a plastic cup is one of the most common offerings at all-inclusive resorts or other non-caring bar venues.

But the margarita has a richer history (though no one is exactly sure of its origin story), and deserves better than that. In search of the perfect version, we chatted with tequila aficionado Brian Sirhal, a longtime beverage director and manager of several Mexican restaurants, each with more than 50 different tequilas in stock.

"There are two really important factors in a great margarita," Sirhal says. "Quality liquor, and fresh fruit juice. Do not, under any circumstances, use a pre-made, artificially flavored sour mix." The two spirits in question are tequila (of course) and an orange liqueur, which is most commonly Triple Sec but could instead be something of higher quality, such as Cointreau, or even Grand Marnier. What about a salted rim? "That’s simply a matter of personal taste," he adds, noting that in his restaurants he uses simple kosher salt.

Sirhal also turns away from the conventional blanco (un-aged) tequila, suggesting instead the more flavorful reposado, which has been barrel-aged between two months and a year. The recipe for one of his favorite versions, dubbed "La Bestia," is below.

Click here for the La Bestia Margarita recipe.


Click here for more from The Drink Nation.


3 Tips for Making the Perfect Margarita (Plus a No-Fail Recipe)

Few things numb the pain of a stressful workweek quite like a margarita. And even though we&aposve barely reached the hump, we&aposre fixing up the fruity tequila drink tonight in honor of its National Holiday. Thanks to certified mezcalier Courtenay Greenleaf, who oversees beverage menu at N.Y.C.-based Mexican restaurant Rosa Mexicano and its newly-opened subterranean cocktail bar Masa y Agave, we have the perfect recipe.

"Margaritas are addictive because of the intoxicating flavors," she tells InStyle. "The tequila and fresh lime juice balanced by the subtle sweetness and salty finish completely satisfies your palate." Not to mention, agave spirits give you the best buzz. Read on below for Greenleaf&aposs tips on how to fix yourself the perfect one, plus a recipe for her spicy cucumber version, which blends cucumber, basil, and jalapeño. Cheers to a spicy Monday!

1. Use high-quality ingredients.

"Everything should be as fresh as possible, and it all hinges on the base. I prefer a blanco tequila—it cuts through the citrus and the flavor really comes through. Opt for fresh-squeezed lime juice over sour mix and kosher salt or sea salt instead of table salt."

2. Arm yourself with the right tools.

"A Boston shaker is best for mixing the agave syrup, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 100% blue agave. Then I recommend straining it with a Hawthorne strainer over fresh ice."

3. Start with salting your glass, but be careful.

"When salt rimming your glass, rim on the side of the glass not allowing salt to actually get in the glass (which will make your cocktail salty in taste)."


3 Tips for Making the Perfect Margarita (Plus a No-Fail Recipe)

Few things numb the pain of a stressful workweek quite like a margarita. And even though we&aposve barely reached the hump, we&aposre fixing up the fruity tequila drink tonight in honor of its National Holiday. Thanks to certified mezcalier Courtenay Greenleaf, who oversees beverage menu at N.Y.C.-based Mexican restaurant Rosa Mexicano and its newly-opened subterranean cocktail bar Masa y Agave, we have the perfect recipe.

"Margaritas are addictive because of the intoxicating flavors," she tells InStyle. "The tequila and fresh lime juice balanced by the subtle sweetness and salty finish completely satisfies your palate." Not to mention, agave spirits give you the best buzz. Read on below for Greenleaf&aposs tips on how to fix yourself the perfect one, plus a recipe for her spicy cucumber version, which blends cucumber, basil, and jalapeño. Cheers to a spicy Monday!

1. Use high-quality ingredients.

"Everything should be as fresh as possible, and it all hinges on the base. I prefer a blanco tequila—it cuts through the citrus and the flavor really comes through. Opt for fresh-squeezed lime juice over sour mix and kosher salt or sea salt instead of table salt."

2. Arm yourself with the right tools.

"A Boston shaker is best for mixing the agave syrup, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 100% blue agave. Then I recommend straining it with a Hawthorne strainer over fresh ice."

3. Start with salting your glass, but be careful.

"When salt rimming your glass, rim on the side of the glass not allowing salt to actually get in the glass (which will make your cocktail salty in taste)."


3 Tips for Making the Perfect Margarita (Plus a No-Fail Recipe)

Few things numb the pain of a stressful workweek quite like a margarita. And even though we&aposve barely reached the hump, we&aposre fixing up the fruity tequila drink tonight in honor of its National Holiday. Thanks to certified mezcalier Courtenay Greenleaf, who oversees beverage menu at N.Y.C.-based Mexican restaurant Rosa Mexicano and its newly-opened subterranean cocktail bar Masa y Agave, we have the perfect recipe.

"Margaritas are addictive because of the intoxicating flavors," she tells InStyle. "The tequila and fresh lime juice balanced by the subtle sweetness and salty finish completely satisfies your palate." Not to mention, agave spirits give you the best buzz. Read on below for Greenleaf&aposs tips on how to fix yourself the perfect one, plus a recipe for her spicy cucumber version, which blends cucumber, basil, and jalapeño. Cheers to a spicy Monday!

1. Use high-quality ingredients.

"Everything should be as fresh as possible, and it all hinges on the base. I prefer a blanco tequila—it cuts through the citrus and the flavor really comes through. Opt for fresh-squeezed lime juice over sour mix and kosher salt or sea salt instead of table salt."

2. Arm yourself with the right tools.

"A Boston shaker is best for mixing the agave syrup, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 100% blue agave. Then I recommend straining it with a Hawthorne strainer over fresh ice."

3. Start with salting your glass, but be careful.

"When salt rimming your glass, rim on the side of the glass not allowing salt to actually get in the glass (which will make your cocktail salty in taste)."


3 Tips for Making the Perfect Margarita (Plus a No-Fail Recipe)

Few things numb the pain of a stressful workweek quite like a margarita. And even though we&aposve barely reached the hump, we&aposre fixing up the fruity tequila drink tonight in honor of its National Holiday. Thanks to certified mezcalier Courtenay Greenleaf, who oversees beverage menu at N.Y.C.-based Mexican restaurant Rosa Mexicano and its newly-opened subterranean cocktail bar Masa y Agave, we have the perfect recipe.

"Margaritas are addictive because of the intoxicating flavors," she tells InStyle. "The tequila and fresh lime juice balanced by the subtle sweetness and salty finish completely satisfies your palate." Not to mention, agave spirits give you the best buzz. Read on below for Greenleaf&aposs tips on how to fix yourself the perfect one, plus a recipe for her spicy cucumber version, which blends cucumber, basil, and jalapeño. Cheers to a spicy Monday!

1. Use high-quality ingredients.

"Everything should be as fresh as possible, and it all hinges on the base. I prefer a blanco tequila—it cuts through the citrus and the flavor really comes through. Opt for fresh-squeezed lime juice over sour mix and kosher salt or sea salt instead of table salt."

2. Arm yourself with the right tools.

"A Boston shaker is best for mixing the agave syrup, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 100% blue agave. Then I recommend straining it with a Hawthorne strainer over fresh ice."

3. Start with salting your glass, but be careful.

"When salt rimming your glass, rim on the side of the glass not allowing salt to actually get in the glass (which will make your cocktail salty in taste)."


3 Tips for Making the Perfect Margarita (Plus a No-Fail Recipe)

Few things numb the pain of a stressful workweek quite like a margarita. And even though we&aposve barely reached the hump, we&aposre fixing up the fruity tequila drink tonight in honor of its National Holiday. Thanks to certified mezcalier Courtenay Greenleaf, who oversees beverage menu at N.Y.C.-based Mexican restaurant Rosa Mexicano and its newly-opened subterranean cocktail bar Masa y Agave, we have the perfect recipe.

"Margaritas are addictive because of the intoxicating flavors," she tells InStyle. "The tequila and fresh lime juice balanced by the subtle sweetness and salty finish completely satisfies your palate." Not to mention, agave spirits give you the best buzz. Read on below for Greenleaf&aposs tips on how to fix yourself the perfect one, plus a recipe for her spicy cucumber version, which blends cucumber, basil, and jalapeño. Cheers to a spicy Monday!

1. Use high-quality ingredients.

"Everything should be as fresh as possible, and it all hinges on the base. I prefer a blanco tequila—it cuts through the citrus and the flavor really comes through. Opt for fresh-squeezed lime juice over sour mix and kosher salt or sea salt instead of table salt."

2. Arm yourself with the right tools.

"A Boston shaker is best for mixing the agave syrup, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 100% blue agave. Then I recommend straining it with a Hawthorne strainer over fresh ice."

3. Start with salting your glass, but be careful.

"When salt rimming your glass, rim on the side of the glass not allowing salt to actually get in the glass (which will make your cocktail salty in taste)."


3 Tips for Making the Perfect Margarita (Plus a No-Fail Recipe)

Few things numb the pain of a stressful workweek quite like a margarita. And even though we&aposve barely reached the hump, we&aposre fixing up the fruity tequila drink tonight in honor of its National Holiday. Thanks to certified mezcalier Courtenay Greenleaf, who oversees beverage menu at N.Y.C.-based Mexican restaurant Rosa Mexicano and its newly-opened subterranean cocktail bar Masa y Agave, we have the perfect recipe.

"Margaritas are addictive because of the intoxicating flavors," she tells InStyle. "The tequila and fresh lime juice balanced by the subtle sweetness and salty finish completely satisfies your palate." Not to mention, agave spirits give you the best buzz. Read on below for Greenleaf&aposs tips on how to fix yourself the perfect one, plus a recipe for her spicy cucumber version, which blends cucumber, basil, and jalapeño. Cheers to a spicy Monday!

1. Use high-quality ingredients.

"Everything should be as fresh as possible, and it all hinges on the base. I prefer a blanco tequila—it cuts through the citrus and the flavor really comes through. Opt for fresh-squeezed lime juice over sour mix and kosher salt or sea salt instead of table salt."

2. Arm yourself with the right tools.

"A Boston shaker is best for mixing the agave syrup, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 100% blue agave. Then I recommend straining it with a Hawthorne strainer over fresh ice."

3. Start with salting your glass, but be careful.

"When salt rimming your glass, rim on the side of the glass not allowing salt to actually get in the glass (which will make your cocktail salty in taste)."


3 Tips for Making the Perfect Margarita (Plus a No-Fail Recipe)

Few things numb the pain of a stressful workweek quite like a margarita. And even though we&aposve barely reached the hump, we&aposre fixing up the fruity tequila drink tonight in honor of its National Holiday. Thanks to certified mezcalier Courtenay Greenleaf, who oversees beverage menu at N.Y.C.-based Mexican restaurant Rosa Mexicano and its newly-opened subterranean cocktail bar Masa y Agave, we have the perfect recipe.

"Margaritas are addictive because of the intoxicating flavors," she tells InStyle. "The tequila and fresh lime juice balanced by the subtle sweetness and salty finish completely satisfies your palate." Not to mention, agave spirits give you the best buzz. Read on below for Greenleaf&aposs tips on how to fix yourself the perfect one, plus a recipe for her spicy cucumber version, which blends cucumber, basil, and jalapeño. Cheers to a spicy Monday!

1. Use high-quality ingredients.

"Everything should be as fresh as possible, and it all hinges on the base. I prefer a blanco tequila—it cuts through the citrus and the flavor really comes through. Opt for fresh-squeezed lime juice over sour mix and kosher salt or sea salt instead of table salt."

2. Arm yourself with the right tools.

"A Boston shaker is best for mixing the agave syrup, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 100% blue agave. Then I recommend straining it with a Hawthorne strainer over fresh ice."

3. Start with salting your glass, but be careful.

"When salt rimming your glass, rim on the side of the glass not allowing salt to actually get in the glass (which will make your cocktail salty in taste)."


3 Tips for Making the Perfect Margarita (Plus a No-Fail Recipe)

Few things numb the pain of a stressful workweek quite like a margarita. And even though we&aposve barely reached the hump, we&aposre fixing up the fruity tequila drink tonight in honor of its National Holiday. Thanks to certified mezcalier Courtenay Greenleaf, who oversees beverage menu at N.Y.C.-based Mexican restaurant Rosa Mexicano and its newly-opened subterranean cocktail bar Masa y Agave, we have the perfect recipe.

"Margaritas are addictive because of the intoxicating flavors," she tells InStyle. "The tequila and fresh lime juice balanced by the subtle sweetness and salty finish completely satisfies your palate." Not to mention, agave spirits give you the best buzz. Read on below for Greenleaf&aposs tips on how to fix yourself the perfect one, plus a recipe for her spicy cucumber version, which blends cucumber, basil, and jalapeño. Cheers to a spicy Monday!

1. Use high-quality ingredients.

"Everything should be as fresh as possible, and it all hinges on the base. I prefer a blanco tequila—it cuts through the citrus and the flavor really comes through. Opt for fresh-squeezed lime juice over sour mix and kosher salt or sea salt instead of table salt."

2. Arm yourself with the right tools.

"A Boston shaker is best for mixing the agave syrup, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 100% blue agave. Then I recommend straining it with a Hawthorne strainer over fresh ice."

3. Start with salting your glass, but be careful.

"When salt rimming your glass, rim on the side of the glass not allowing salt to actually get in the glass (which will make your cocktail salty in taste)."


3 Tips for Making the Perfect Margarita (Plus a No-Fail Recipe)

Few things numb the pain of a stressful workweek quite like a margarita. And even though we&aposve barely reached the hump, we&aposre fixing up the fruity tequila drink tonight in honor of its National Holiday. Thanks to certified mezcalier Courtenay Greenleaf, who oversees beverage menu at N.Y.C.-based Mexican restaurant Rosa Mexicano and its newly-opened subterranean cocktail bar Masa y Agave, we have the perfect recipe.

"Margaritas are addictive because of the intoxicating flavors," she tells InStyle. "The tequila and fresh lime juice balanced by the subtle sweetness and salty finish completely satisfies your palate." Not to mention, agave spirits give you the best buzz. Read on below for Greenleaf&aposs tips on how to fix yourself the perfect one, plus a recipe for her spicy cucumber version, which blends cucumber, basil, and jalapeño. Cheers to a spicy Monday!

1. Use high-quality ingredients.

"Everything should be as fresh as possible, and it all hinges on the base. I prefer a blanco tequila—it cuts through the citrus and the flavor really comes through. Opt for fresh-squeezed lime juice over sour mix and kosher salt or sea salt instead of table salt."

2. Arm yourself with the right tools.

"A Boston shaker is best for mixing the agave syrup, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 100% blue agave. Then I recommend straining it with a Hawthorne strainer over fresh ice."

3. Start with salting your glass, but be careful.

"When salt rimming your glass, rim on the side of the glass not allowing salt to actually get in the glass (which will make your cocktail salty in taste)."


3 Tips for Making the Perfect Margarita (Plus a No-Fail Recipe)

Few things numb the pain of a stressful workweek quite like a margarita. And even though we&aposve barely reached the hump, we&aposre fixing up the fruity tequila drink tonight in honor of its National Holiday. Thanks to certified mezcalier Courtenay Greenleaf, who oversees beverage menu at N.Y.C.-based Mexican restaurant Rosa Mexicano and its newly-opened subterranean cocktail bar Masa y Agave, we have the perfect recipe.

"Margaritas are addictive because of the intoxicating flavors," she tells InStyle. "The tequila and fresh lime juice balanced by the subtle sweetness and salty finish completely satisfies your palate." Not to mention, agave spirits give you the best buzz. Read on below for Greenleaf&aposs tips on how to fix yourself the perfect one, plus a recipe for her spicy cucumber version, which blends cucumber, basil, and jalapeño. Cheers to a spicy Monday!

1. Use high-quality ingredients.

"Everything should be as fresh as possible, and it all hinges on the base. I prefer a blanco tequila—it cuts through the citrus and the flavor really comes through. Opt for fresh-squeezed lime juice over sour mix and kosher salt or sea salt instead of table salt."

2. Arm yourself with the right tools.

"A Boston shaker is best for mixing the agave syrup, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and 100% blue agave. Then I recommend straining it with a Hawthorne strainer over fresh ice."

3. Start with salting your glass, but be careful.

"When salt rimming your glass, rim on the side of the glass not allowing salt to actually get in the glass (which will make your cocktail salty in taste)."