Cinco de Mayo is too early.
How about cinco de Junio? Cinco de Julio? Cinco de Agosto?
The margarita, the ice-cold cocktail most readily associated with Mexican beach vacations and taco night, really is best enjoyed during the summer, when lime juice, tequila, orange liqueur and a salty rim can serve as a refreshing antidote to a hot day.
The drink is one of the few sweeter drinks Michael Farha says he can endure.
Farha, who recently opened District Taqueria at 917 E. Douglas, says that margaritas and Mexican beer are his top liquid sellers. Margaritas are so popular, in fact, that he mixes them in giant batches and serves them from a tap behind the bar. The restaurant’s weeknight happy hour offers $3.50 house margaritas, and they’re a big draw, Farha said.
“I don’t drink a lot of sweet drinks, but if it’s a good mixed margarita, I’ll take it,” said Farha, who recently dreamed up a grilled pineapple margarita.
Margaritas are also a favorite of Joe Schlimm’s customers. He owns The Bar’s Open, a professional bar tending service that staffs parties and events. The drink is so popular, it always headlines one night of Botanica’s Tuesdays on the Terrace, a weekly summer and fall event that spotlights a flower, a mixed drink and a local band. (This year, Mums & Margaritas will be the attraction on Sept. 22.)
The drink is versatile, Schlimm said. Experimenting with different liqueurs, bartenders can invent all sorts of margarita variations and turn them a rainbow of colors. A dash of Blue Curacao in a margarita, for example, turns the drink technicolor without drastically altering the flavor.
They’re also the perfect patio party drink.
“Everyone likes them,” Schlimm said. “They’re very popular. And they’re easy to make in large quantities.”
Here are a couple margarita recipes provided by Schlimm and Farha as well as Chipotle’s Patron Margarita recipe, which the chain shared when it first introduced margaritas to the menu.
3 ounces tequila
2 ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup (recipe follows)
1 ounce agave nectar or orange liqueur like Grand Marnier or triple sec
1 tablespoons salt
Place salt on a plate. Use a lime wedge to moisten the rim of a margarita glass, then press into the salt, making sure not to get an excessive amount in side the glass. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add tequila, lime juice, simple syrup and orange liqueur. Cover and shake until mixed and chilled, about 30 seconds or until the shaker mists up. Strain margarita into the glass.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Put sugar and water in small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Grilled Pineapple Margarita
4 mint leaves
Pinch of fresh cilantro
1 lime wedge
3/4 ounce grilled pineapple simple syrup (recipe follows)
1 1/4 ounces tequila
3/4 ounce triple sec
Splash of pineapple juice
Smoked salt (regular also will work)
Put two mint leaves, the cilantro and the lime wedge into a martini shaker and muddle. Add the pineapple simple syrup, tequila and triple sec and shake. Rim a glass with smoked salt (available at specialty food stores) or regular margarita salt. Fill glass with ice and poor mixture over ice. Fill to top with sour mix then a splash of pineapple juice. Garnish with remaining mint leaves and a hunk of grilled pineapple.
Grilled Pineapple Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 ring of grilled pineapple
Put water and sugar in a pot and bring just to a boil. Put mixture in food processor with grilled pineapple and blend.
Chipotle’s Patron Margarita
1 1/2 ounces Patron Silver tequila
1/2 ounce triple sec
1 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce agave nectar
Kosher salt for rimming glasses
1 lime wedge
Fill a rocks glass with ice and pour into shaker. Add tequila, triple sec, lime juice and agave nectar. Cover and shake vigorously for three to five seconds until foamy. If using salt, place in a shallow dish. Moisten the rim of the rocks glass with the lime wedge, then dip the rim in salt. Pour contents of share into the glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and serve immediately.