When I made this blood orange margarita in February I mentioned that I normally reserve margaritas for the summer. And this cocktail is the one I save until then. The first touch of warm weather and I start to think of margaritas; there is something about warm weather, a barbecue and having friends over that makes a pitcher of these a required element at my backyard get togethers. I say margaritas and my friends and neighbors know and I can count on them to flock to my backyard and I just know it’s not the food! I’ve been dying to do this cocktail for Happy Hour Friday but I had to wait until the time was right and FINALLY the time is now!
What makes this drink so special? It’s the attention to detail; from the type of tequila to the quality of ingredients and ending with the preparation. It’s not something you can throw together at a moment’s notice (though I do have a quick version) but the wait is worthwhile, trust me. Letting the different flavors meld together from the juices and zest infuses this cocktail with a bright citrus punch. The longer the zest and juice mixture is allowed to steep, the more developed the citrus flavors are in the finished margarita. If I’m planning ahead for company, I will let the citrus mixture steep for 24 hours, although the margaritas will still be great if the mixture is steeped only for the minimum 4 hours. If you’re in a rush and need to serve margaritas immediately go ahead and try the quick version; it’s good too but the more time the better.
Two of the most important elements that make this what I consider the best are the tequila and the orange liqueur. I’m not recommending the finest sipping tequila, that would be a waste when mixing a margarita, but I do recommend stepping it up a notch from the cheapest available. I always use Tequila Reserva 1800 Anejo. It’s 100% de Agave, double distilled, and aged in French oak and American Oak for 6 months. The aging serves to smooth out a tequila, reducing some of the harshness and for me, this brand has always been my go to for this cocktail. Equally important is the orange liqueur. So many folks reach for Triple Sec; it’s certainly the cheapest. However, with that price is this reality; it’s sugar water with artificial flavors. Spend a few more dollars on an orange liqueur which will have the actual essence of orange in it and this cocktail will benefit greatly. I use Patron’s Citronge but Grand Marnier and other orange liqueurs are fine too.
Somewhere along the way I started to experiment with citrus elements and I’ve found I like a blend; some lime, some lemon and even some orange; use these fresh ingredients instead of a margarita mix and you will NEVER go back…I’m willing to bet you a cocktail on that!
I first put this cocktail on my blog almost 4 years ago to the day when I think my daughter might have been my only reader. I’m certain it was for the same reason; tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo and Denver has a large Hispanic population so it’s a big celebration here. I do my part to honor that day with this margarita, my favorite corn salsa with chips, a simple guacamole I love and a dinner of fajitas for family and friends. Last year I put together a compilation of some great Mexican foods for Cinco de Mayo and that list is still a good one today. Great foods for a celebration or in my case, a barbecue…sort of the same thing!
Using quality fresh ingredients makes all the difference with this margarita!
- 4 teaspoons grated lime zest
- 1/2 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 medium limes
- 4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup lemon juice from 2 to 3 medium lemons
- 1 tsp grated orange zest
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup orange juice from 1 small orange
- 1/4 cup sugar
- pinch table salt
- 2 cups crushed ice
- 1 cup 100 percent agave tequila, preferably Reposado
- 1 cup Citronge or Grand Marnier
- Lime, sugar and kosher salt for rimming
- Combine the lime, lemon and orange juices with the zest from all three with the sugar, and salt in a large liquid measuring cup; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until flavors meld, 4 to 24 hours.
- Rim the edges of margarita or double old-fashioned glasses with a lime slice and dip in a combination of equal parts sugar and kosher salt and fill the glasses with ice.
- Pour juice mixture into a pitcher with remaining crushed ice. Add tequila and orange liqueur; stir until thoroughly chilled.
- Strain into ice-filled glasses and serve immediately.
In a hurry? Skip the zest, combine all the ingredients and serve immediately. I try to give it at least the four hours but in a pinch? This is still very good!
For a Girls Nite Out we’ll add some Pomegranate Liqueur instead of the orange liquor for a girly pink version!