Tequila’s arguably the most misunderstood spirit there is. We all know about tequila shots, margaritas and hangovers but the tequila most of us drink is a world away from the good stuff. So what’s the difference?
The main one is whether or not it’s made from 100 per cent agave. Agave is the plant tequilas are made from (and no, they’re not cacti) but if the bottle you buy doesn’t say 100 per cent agave then the chances are almost half of it is actually some kind of grain spirit that’s been added to the agave (this type of tequila is called a mixto).
To me, that’s the most important point to look out for. You then have aged tequilas – called reposado and anejo – but that doesn’t necessarily make them better. After all, tequila isn’t whisky and while a silver tequila is usually cheaper, it can also sometimes be nicer than an aged one, depending on your tastes and the brand.
I could talk about other factors such as the type of barrels used, the altitude of the agave, natural fermenting processes and so forth but instead I’ll just say one other thing: if you do get a 100 per cent agave tequila, try sipping it rather than shooting it and ignore the usual salt and lemon accompaniments.
Traditional margarita cocktail recipe
This is the traditional way to make a great, refreshing margarita.
- 3 parts tequila
- 2 parts orange liqueur (ie triple sec or Cointreau, depending on your budget)
- 1 part lime juice (has to be freshly squeezed – if you don’t do this, then don’t make a margarita)
- Sugar to taste (I use caster sugar, but sugar syrup would be better)
- Coarse salt
A margarita is ridiculously easy to make. As long as you use freshly squeezed lime juice and add some sugar to sweeten it to your taste, it’s really hard to go wrong.
Rim the glass with salt – an easy way to make the salt stick is to rub some lime juice around the rim (I do this with the half of the lime that’s already been squeezed).
Then shake the other ingredients with ice and strain into a glass. Voila!
PS the margarita recipe above is fairly standard but recipes vary. Some people add more lime juice, others add orange juice (although I strongly disagree with this) and some use Gran Marnier and think triple sec is for trailer trash like me. However, this is the recipe I personally prefer. However, if you make margaritas or sangritas in a different way, feel free to leave a comment below: