the perfect margarita

This week many of us are coming up on the anniversary of all sorts of things we had little idea would define the year ahead. I remember saying things like “these masks are really expensive but they’re all that’s available, should I buy them?” (yes, Deb, and also some flour) and “they can’t cancel school, can they?” and “we can still plan a summer vacation because things should normalize by then, right?” and I’m sure I’m not alone in these one year-ago reminders throwing me for a big emo loop. It’s also been delightfully almost spring-like in NYC after a consistently wintery winter and I haven’t been able to stay inside, inventing as many reasons as I can come up with for taking walks, which is bad for productivity but doing wonders to counteract all of those heavy moods. At the end of one yesterday, I swung by the grocery store to get ingredients for crisp black bean tacos and because I cannot make this up, you must believe me: a bird pooped on me in the store. Is it still luck if it happens while you’re inspecting cabbages, hoping to find an apartment-sized one?

salt and tajín rimfresh lime juicelime juicepour it over ice

Pretty much the only thing I craved for the first six months of “quar” was tacos, usually vegetable because everything felt so heavy, I wanted food that felt light — black bean, cauliflower, sweet potato, heaped with avocado and crunchy slaws. In the background of this, this provided many, many excuses to finetune our house margarita. We’ve adjusted formulas a few times over the years [the 2007 Tart Marg tracks more closely with the International Bartenders Association (IBA) formula] but it was all in service of this, our forever margarita: tart but balanced, just barely sweet. If you can make it happen, fresh lime juice is my favorite part. A mixture of kosher salt and Tajín on the rim makes me feel like I’m on one of those vacations we missed. Tequila and your choice of triple sec or Cointreau round it out, but if you want a more clear lime flavor, you should know about Tommy’s margarita, which nixes the liqueur in favor of a couple spoonfuls of agave nectar. I hope the sun stays out where you are too, and this sets your weekend off cheerfully.

the perfect margarita

the perfect margarita


6 months ago: Dulce de Leche Chocoflan
1 year ago: Sweet Potato Salad with Pepita Dressing
2 year ago: Cauliflower and Tomato Masala with Peas
3 years ago: Quick, Essential Stovetop Mac-and-Cheese
4 years ago: Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes and Pomegranate Grapefruit Paloma
5 years ago: Belgian Brownie Cakelets, Broccoli Melts, and White Russian
6 years ago: Perfect Corn Muffins and Spaghetti Pangrattato with Crispy Fried Eggs
7 years ago: Stuck-Pot Rice with Lentils and Yogurt and Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew and Morning Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel
8 years ago: Blood Orange Margaritas
9 years ago: Double Coconut Muffins and Fried Egg Sandwich with Bacon and Blue Cheese
10 years ago: Green Bean Salad with Pickled Red Onions and Fried Almonds and Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil
11 years ago: Walnut Jam Cake, Ginger Fried Rice and Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint Cream
12 years ago: Whole Lemon Tart, Alex’s Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage and Toasted Coconut Shortbread
13 years ago: Pasta Puttanesca and Pear and Almond Tart
14 years ago: Fusilli with Baked Tomato Sauce and Aloo Gobi.

The Perfect Margarita

I use a 3:2:2 formula here, which is helpful to know for some future date when we resume having parties: this is so much fun to batch up. A 750-ml bottle of tequila holds just over 3 cups; add 2 cups each of lime juice and orange liqueur and ice for a pitcher. Tajín is a mixture of chili powder, lime, and salt that you should always buy two of (we put it on everything from tacos to this soup and these salads to hard-boiled eggs); you’ll be glad you did. I’m using Jose Cuervo (gold) tequila here, which is a good basic one. Shown here are two 11-ounce glasses.
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (I’m using Diamond)
  • 1 teaspoon Tajín or 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 lime wedges
  • Ice
  • 4 1/2 ounces (9 tablespoons) tequila
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) Cointreau, Triple Sec, or Grand Marnier
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) freshly squeezed lime juice
Combine salt and chili powder on a small rimmed plate. Swipe the rim of two glasses with the first lime wedge and dip it in the salt mixture. Fill glasses two-thirds of the way with ice. Combine tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. If you’d like, you can shake it up in a cocktail shaker or jar with a few large ice cubes until the jar/shaker feels too cold to hold, or that’s my rule. Pour (strain if coming from a shaker) over ice in glasses, being careful not to rinse off the salt rim. Garnish each with remaining lime wedges.

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