Silver Tequila for Margaritas?
My gourmet cooking group is doing a Bobby Flay dinner next weekend. I am in charge of the "Mesa Grill Margaritas". Recipe is very basic:
2 oz. silver tequila
1 oz. orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Triple Sec
1 oz. fresh lime juice
shaken with ice...served straight up or on the rocks...with or without salt
So...I'm looking for a good silver tequila to use that won't break the bank. We are looking at 15 guests...and I figure 2 margaritas per guest. So basically 1.75 liters of Tequila.
Guy at BevMo suggested 1800 Silver or El Jimador Blanco. I'm more of an Anejo girl, though, and don't really know silver tequilas (silver and blanco are the same category, right?)
What do you think? Suggestions? I don't want to go cheap just to be cheap...but I want to be financially responsible!
I also think I am going with Triple Sec...once again, the economy is interfering with my eating/drinking! What would be a good brand of Triple Sec...Bols perhaps? Or what about Citronge?
Thanks for the help!
Might start here:
In addition to selecting the "Silver Tequila" radio button you can try the "Best Buys" checkbox at the bottom... I've never heard of either of the two tequilas it spits out with both of those options selected, so I can't comment on whether they're really the best. But generally I agree with this site's ratings.
For orange liqueurs you could start here:
Everyone's tastes are different. For me, in just a few months this summer of making those simple types of margaritas at home, this is what I found:
I like having both lemon and lime juice, somewhere around half and half. You make a recipe like this, you really need fresh juice, if you can do it. Look around for good prices on lemons/limes; my regular supermarket is a rip off, and even though we're nowhere near a place where these are grown, there's a farm market type store that sells them for cheaper!
I tried the Patron Citronge first, then I tried Cointreau. No contest, Cointreau is better. I haven't tried a cheaper triple sec at home, and prices on these things can vary widely, but for me it was just a few dollars more to get Cointreau over Citronge. Worth every penny. In this simple type of recipe, I'd worry about skimping too much here, but as I said I have not really tried it.
I like having the silver/blanco tequila. One thing I have not yet tried (because there are just two of us, we drink maybe one marg a week, and I just don't want to store too many bottles at once) is a reposado, but some people like using this variety, which is aged a bit but usually much less than the anejo you are used to. Oddly enough, though, I got a bottle of Herradura Anejo on closeout, and we did mix some with that. The taste is smoother with the anejo, but I like the sharper taste of the silver in the drink. Maybe soon I will get a bottle of reposado to try that. One bonus here is that in some (many? most?) cases the silver will cost less because it's not aging and losing to evaporation in that process.
I actually have used the basic 1800 Silver, and it's okay in this drink. If you can find the best buy at the price listed on the tasting site ($12.99), that's a lot less than I have to pay even for 1800. I think I paid over $20, but this is PA for ya. The one I bought most recently was MIlagro silver, and that was close to 30 bucks. (The other problem with PA is I don't have a lot to choose from.) There certainly will be variance in the taste, but if you're at least insisting upon 100% agave (which again, if you're making this kind of simple recipe, you really have to; if you make sweeter "margaritas" then you can skimp more ;-) you'll have a certain base level of quality and seeking out recommended tequilas will only take it up from that level.
I dunno if this helps much, just my experience. As far as I'm concerned, if you do this recipe (or maybe swap out half the lime juice for lemon), fresh juice, any 100% agave silver tequila and Cointreau are all financially responsible. ;-) Although maybe this is not the place you want to skimp, I would also say one good drink is better than two mediocre ones. I usually drink just one when I make these. But that's me. :-)
Thanks for all the detail. I am not allowed to vary from the recipe...hostess picks recipes for dinner and everyone chooses a recipe which we are required to adhere to (lemon juice sounds grand to me, but I am not allowed to be creative!). I will be using fresh squeezed lime juice though.
Damn! I'm looking at spending $80+ just to make margaritas (if I go with the Cointreau)...the rest of the food better be absolutely fabulous! :-)
It may just be me, but I personally don't care for Cointreau in a margarita. I think it detracts from the tequila and the lime juice. I'm a triple sec purist. Just be aware that there are some godawful triple secs out there: Hiram Walker in particular is just ghastly. Bols is fine, and as bad as many Leroux brandies are, their triple sec is surprisingly good.
Er, that entry points out the ways in which it differs from other Triple Secs, including the one that I dislike about its use in margaritas: "Cointreau has also become very popular in premium Margaritas, often known as "Gold Margaritas". Cointreau replaces the Triple Sec in the standard Margarita recipe and adds a more intense orange flavour."
If I wanted a drink with a more intense orange flavor, I wouldn't be ordering a margarita.
Hm, good point. Bols is available at the PA state stores and is cheap so I'll try it sometime to compare. I really don't feel like the orange flavor is in any way overpowering now, although I believe I can taste the Cointreau a bit in the drink, which is as it should be, I would think. That said, if I like the drink as well or close with the 1/4 as expensive triple sec, I guess I could enjoy one a little more often. ;-)
The main thing is don't waste your money on the Patron Citronge, at least IMO and at least one person's opinion other on another thread. Hm, we should probably get a link to that in here....
Agreed, it's whatever you like that matters most.
Personally I like Grand Marnier in my Margaritas. It's a bit less fresh/bright tasting than Cointreau, and I like that it smooths things out a bit and deepens some of the flavors. On the flip side, it totally destroys the color of the drink, if you're working with a Silver tequila.
Of course when I'm mixing for myself, I don't really care much about color, nor about the price for an ounce of the stuff... if I were making Margaritas for a large group I would certainly reach for something cheaper, as long as it's clear. A few years ago I made the mistake of picking up some really cheap brownish Triple Sec for a party and the Margaritas came out looking (and tasting) absolutely disgusting. Which is why I switched to Cointreau since then in my personal bar...
... and I honestly think that cheapo triple sec and/or curacao has more of an intense and fake orange taste that does Cointreau, which has the best balance I have ever found in a triple sec. I tried Citronge and for this woman's economizing query, it may have been a good call. However, at my house, Cointreau is it.
Things I learned in Mexico: The reason for using silver teq. instead of gold in a Marg. is that silver is 'brighter' than the gold. Gold makes for better sipping straight. Jose Cuervo Silver is fine in Margs. Ole!!!!!
The 1800 silver,Cazadores silver, Sauza blanco,Jimador Blanco and the Milagro are value priced and widely available.BevMo has great deals right now on Dos Manos and Corralejo, which would both be leagues above the rest.
A favorite for margaritas is Sauza Hornitos reposado, but they have a silver version.Try that.
If you're wanting a Blanco to stick with the recipe Sauza Hornitos Plata is pretty good. I personally prefer a Reposado though and would highly suggest Milagro Reposado in the Margarita recipe you've listed.
As for Cointreau you can certainly substitute another Triple Sec but it won't be nearly as good as it would be with Cointreau.
I like a pure-agave tequila for my Margaritas; my favorite value is Cazadores. For a little more, El Tesoro is really nice, too.
I used to be a Cointreau fan, as it's not too sweet and has a fine orange flavor, but I've found a cheaper alternative that is still miles above most Triple Secs (which are generally too sweet and generally junky): Marie Brizzard. Significantly more expensive than most Triple Secs ($20 vs. $6-10), but worth it, and a bargain relative to Cointreau ($30).
I don't care for that recipe at all: you won't be able to really taste the tequila. My preferred proprotion goes like this:
1 fresh OJ (non-canonical, I know)
2 simple syrup
3 fresh lime juice
4 Marie Brizzard Triple Sec
I like El Mayor if you can find it. Prefer it to the 1800, same price range. Also, I like the Lunazul Reposado, but haven't yet found the Blanco. The Lunazul goes for 25.00 here, and the bottles have a 10.00 rebate coupon on them. Best I've had for 15.00.
El Tesoro is very good, but a little more $ than these others.
The recipe you are using is very close to the one I use as well. I use 2 parts silver tequila, one part Triple Sec, the juice of one large fresh lime, and I throw in a tiny pinch of salt. Shake it and serve over ice with a lime wedge/wheel. You mentioned anejo tequila, but I would stick with a blanco/silver, the agave flavor is more pronounced and that's really what you want in a 'rita.
As for brands, we could go on for days, but I really like Cazadores blanco. It's a good mix of quality and value. Whatever you do, always go with a 100% agave. The mixto is truly nasty in most cases.
Sometimes (well, all the time probably) I really hate the PA state monopoly. Cazadores blanco has been mentioned several times both here and in the other thread, and PA doesn't even carry it as special order, only reposado and anejo. No El Mayor or El Tesoro except by special order, and no Lunazul at all! No Marie Brizzard triple sec either. I settled for Milagro last time at 28 bucks to get a silver other than 1800. (They don't carry Sauza Hornitos either, not the silver.) Not that Milagro is bad, just that I don't have any choices!
I heard my boss (owns the company) talking to our Cleveland office the other day. Apparently he has taken to having tequila shipped there. I'll have to ask him what he ordered. His brother works up there and can bring it down, works out well I guess. Can't have stuff shipped here.
Dinner party was Saturday night...it was fabulous! Margaritas I made were very well received...very simple, straight forward and not really sweet. I used:
2 oz. Puerto Vallarta Blanco 100% Agave Tequila (found it for $15.59/750ml at Wine and Liquor Depot in San Fernando Valley--Los Angeles area).
1 oz. Citronge by Patron...made for strong drinks, and everyone seemed to like the flavor. Not too strong on the orange flavor so it didn't overpower the rest of the drink. Most importantly, I got it for $14.99/750ml at Trader Joe's and the least expensive Cointreau I could find was around $36!
1 oz. of fresh squeezed lime juice
Shaken in cocktail shaker with ice, served on the rocks in small rocks glass with salted rim and wedge of lime.
Strong, simple, clean.
This thread just goes to show, with such a simple (3) ingredient recipe, you can come up with limitless number of variations.
Well, glad you enjoyed it! That's what's most important. Variations are just based mainly on personal preferences.
I think with that kind of price difference I would think harder about the Citronge as well. Just goes to show PA weirdness. I can't believe, even at Trader Joe's (who here can't sell that kind of thing), you can get Citronge for $15. Here it sells for $27! On the other hand, the regular price of the Cointreau here is $34, and you couldn't find it for even that number. Amazing. And I got Cointreau on sale a few bucks off a while back. So to me, Citronge was not as appealing in taste for only a few bucks less. For you, it was less than half the cost. Big difference.
For a variation with the leftovers (assuming you have any ;-), try making the recipe that should have come hanging on the Citronge bottle. Calls for lemon and lime and a slightly different ratio of orange liqueur to tequila. Have fun!