Margarita - Blanco or Reposado
I wonder what you folks recommend for making a nice premium margarita at home - reposado or blanco.
Before you say just use a cheap mixto, I do want to use a 100% agave. I like to use fresh lime juice and premium orange liqueur, so I don't think I'll be wasting a good brand, the way I would if I were using Mr and Mrs T's Margarita mix.
Blanco. The more complex the tequila gets, the less it pairs with the lime and orange. It's supposed to be a simple, bright cocktail. 100 percent agave is the only way to go, mixtos are for the people who use the mix. Reposados aren't too bad, just make sure you go with one on the lighter end of things. My standard tequila for a margarita is actually the Sauza Hornitos reposado, but I saw recently that they have a Hornitos blanco that I'm looking forward to trying out.
I second the vote for a blanco. Tastes more like, well...tequila! The more the spirit is aged, the less its taste is an unmitigated representation of the agave fruit, and the more it takes on the flavor of wood. What you want (or at least what I want) in a margarita is that bright, fruity, green flavor.
Third on the Blanco. And I don't think anyone here would ever, under any circumstances, recommend using a "cheap mixto," nor ever suggest using a mix like Mr and Mrs T's for that matter.
My last margarita included Don Eduardo's blanco. I've heard the Hornitos blanco is good as well.
It's a matter of preference, but I would agree that blanco is the best choice if you really want to taste tequila i.e. agave flavors.
However, there are repos that are not heavily oaked that offer a more complex flavor that round out a cadillac marg.
Over the weekend, I had margsd with Corzo reposado and Don Fulano reposado. The Corzo was killer; it still had that agave flavor and added a nice richness. The Fulano was a little too strong, but still very good and a nice change from the usual blanco-based margs I typically drink.
For me, blanco is the cleanest expression of the agave plant i.e. the tequila is bottled immediately after distillation is rarely if ever aged in barrel so the flavors are purely derived from the agave. Of course, not all blancos taste the same, but in comparison to a reposado or anejo, they are stronger, more herbal and peppery.
Reposados are aged (rested) in barrels for no more than a year and this imparts a mellowing effect to the tequila, a little sweetness and a slight color.
Personally, I tend to use blancos in my margs simply because many repos have too much of the barrel taste and to me, it doesn't mesh well in a cocktail.
For parties, my latest recipe uses a combination of tequilas; 1 part blanco and 1 part reposado (don alejo) and it makes a killer caddilac margarita.
I've spent a lot of time perfecting it. Here's what I do:
In a big glass with no ice, pour 2 shots of tequila - So far I like Herradurra blanco best but Cazadores reposado is a close second
Add 1/2 shot of orange liqueur - Patron citronges, Cointreau, etc. -- HOWEVER - if you're out of this, don't hesitate to exchange with 1/4 shot of orange juice. Works like a charm, and not mixing the tequila with another alcohol may make for a purer tequila taste and less hangover the next day (although this has not been scientifically tested).
Now add the juice of 1/2 lime, putting a 1/4 or 1/8 slice into the drink as garnish (after squeezing it).
Finally, add one to two shots of good limeade (like Newman's Own) into the glass. This gives it just a little sweetness -- nothing like those horrible mixes, but enough to make this drink taste better than possibly any other drink I've ever had. Adjust from one to two shots depending on your tolerance for sweetness.
Finally, pour the whole thing over a glass full of ice - Highball works fine.
You will NOT be disappointed!
Enjoy and feel free to report back!!!
Cazadores is probably the most affordable and good 100% agave tequila with wide distribution. It's reposado is good, a touch milder than many. I use it in ritas, with fresh lime and a splash of Grand Marnier. The hint of oaky and smoky will endure if you don't overload the sugared ingredient; the Herradura blanco will retain a bit of a classic agave bite.
Herradura reposado, (on my profile) is SOOO smooth I would never mix it with anything. Just a glass of sangrita, aparte.
To tease you, there are small batch Mezcals from Jalisco which are not exported that put everything on this post to shame.
One of my friends owns a popular restaurant in L.A. and is related to the Sauzas.... they sent him back with small barrel of uncut Tequila (it tends to go from 100 to 130 proof).... this is stuff that that is aged mostly in Steel.... and just lightly finished off in White Oak.... but will not be released until there is a ready market for $200/bottle (not that there aren't already bottles at that price point... just that they are trying to continously create increasing upstream price poitns).... wow this stuff was great... I hope they release it uncut.
Cazadores is a lot more subtle, partly because it's a reposado. Blancos, and Herradura is a shining example of this, tend to be more assertive, since they're not aged the way reposados are. For a pure taste, like the feeling of spring water, you'll want a Cabo Wabo. For a more nuanced, but still smooth taste, more like the humidity of a tropical summer day, you'll like the Cazadores. For the full-tilt, pure, yet assertive, punchy 100% agave taste explosion, you'll want the Herradura. This is tequila at it's most basic and primordial. Herradura is closest among the three to being direct from the still, when you're closest to the magic of the agave plant.
I hope this answers your question, Chinon00. If so, you'll have to recommend a good cabernet franc from the Loire.
To each his own. I've experimented with pure lime juice, with Cointreau (which is what the original margaritas were made with), with Roses, and with simple syrup, and for my taste, just a hint of limeade makes it delectable -plus a 1/4 shot of orange juice. Try one shot of limeade and one shot of pure lime juice, and tell me it's not delicious...
I think both are interesting, in the same way rum drinks made with white vs. gold rum are different yet worthy. I tend to use pure-agave blancos (I really like Cazadores and El Tesoro and think they're excellent values), but have also used reposados to good effect. Think of the latter as more suitable for cold weather, the same way you tend to save whiskey cocktails for when autumn comes around. The brown tint does mean they won't be as pretty. My current recipe:
8 parts tequila
4 Marie Brizzard Triple Sec
3 fresh lime juice
2 simple syrup
1 fresh OJ
Purists can eliminate the OJ and bump up the lime to 4 parts, but I think it adds some welcome balance. Shake over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with thin strips of lime and orange peel after squeezing their oils onto the drink's surface. I sometimes rim the glass with kosher salt (exterior of the glass only -- you don't want salt dripping into the drink.) My simple syrup recipe is 5 parts ordinary cane sugar shaken till dissolved in 4 parts water.
mostly seconding what others have said, but:
blanco is more the standard, but either is fine and both have their values. i probably use casadores reposado the most simply because it is a great bottle for the price, and easily available, and versatile. when i want to spend money, i will pick don julio (either blanco or reposado) over, say, patron.
the simplest recipe (coming from a guy who learned to make margaritas in new mexico, where it is pretty much the official state drink) is 2 oz. tequila, 1 oz. something orangey (cointreau, grand marnier, or triple sec), and the fresh juice of 1/2 lime. if you want to sweeten (not reccomended) agave nectar (find it at trader joes, whole foods) is a nice touch, a little simple syrup is ok too. recipes with a squeeze of orange juice or oil from the peel are fine too, just stick to the base recipe and then experiment on top of it.
the phrase you used - "a nice premium margarita at home" - suggests a lot of room for tinkering. i'd buy several tequilas, blancos and reposados and anejos, and play around. to me, the key to a "premium" or "real" or "authentic" margarita is that tequila is at the heart of it, not sugar or lime, and as long as that is the case, it can be pretty much any tequila you like.
Good post, and yes, I've been tinkering! I've been trying Herradura blanco, Cazadores reposado, Don Julio blanco and Cabo Wabo blanco. They're all great, but for mixing, the only one that I wouldn't recommend would be Cabo since it's so smooth. I like the ones that permit the distinctiveness of the agave to burst through, and Her, Caz and Don J are all highly recommended in this regard. The first two are assertive, while the Don Julio has more of a butterscotch flavor. I've been tasting them straight and then with lime, orange, etc. Haven't tried Patron, and with the price, I'm not rushing to do so...
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
1/4 cup superfine sugar
Pinch table salt
2 cups crushed ice
1 cup 100 percent agave tequila, preferably reposado
1 cup Triple Sec
Combine lime zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and salt in large liquid measuring cup; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until flavors meld, 4 to 24 hours.
Divide 1 cup crushed ice between 4 or 6 margarita or double old-fashioned glasses. Strain juice mixture into 1-quart pitcher or cocktail shaker. Add tequila, Triple Sec, and remaining crushed ice; stir or shake until thoroughly combined and chilled, 20 to 60 seconds. Strain into ice-filled glasses; serve immediately.
Just a comment. I hear people all the time advocating real fruit juice; i.e., actual juice squeezed from fruit. While I'm sure there is a little difference, I've never found it to be enough to make a habit out of using real fruit.
Now if you have it in the frig, sure why not. But I usually just buy the equivalent drink of what ever the recipe calls for.
Like for instance; a Tom Collins calls for simple syrup and lemon juice.
Simple syrup or sugar mixed with water and squeezed lemon juice = lemonade.
So I just buy some lemonade and save myself a couple of steps. :)
Or Limeade or Orange Juice, etc....
the only reason I bring this up is because I know there are people who might be asking themselves, what's the difference, do I really need to get a juicer and fresh fruit and make simple syrup? I'm happy just using the already made juice.
FYI... if anybody cares I have both Citronge & Cointreau at home and just did a taste test... the Cointreau is vastly superior and worth the price difference... in fact is even sippable on the rocks.
Also.... FYI... there are some who claim that the original margaritas were made with Damiana and not Cointreau