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A GOOD 'rita, at a fair price...please!!!!

Veggo Aug 8, 2011 08:20 PM

I curse every American resto that claims to have its city's best 'rita, and immediately commences the $4 upsell to a tequila brand I have heard of, all but admitting that their basic $6.50 'rita is 50 cents worth of crap, and an upgrade version will be a sawbuck, and even that will include revolting syrupy mix.

To resto owners: gloat about the high profit for those who fall for it, but for many customers who want a good experience box-to-wire, the 'rita rip-off from the start ruins the whole dinner experience, and keeps us from returning, even if the food is good.

Listen, resto owners: build us a margarita, made with fresh squeezed limes, Cointreau or Grand Marnier, and passable tequila, salted rim, no blanking mix, and we will beat a path to your door and try your food. And don't serve it in a 3-pound stemmed mug that holds 5 ounces of beverage plus a half a bag of ice.

Finally, to resto owners: if you are clueless as to how to do it right, go visit Mexico for a week or two, and I and others can direct you to where it is done correctly. E- mail me for further advice.

  1. a
    amazinc Aug 10, 2011 01:44 PM

    James Christinian...which border crossing do I go to for Nuevo Progresso and that margarita
    you describe? I'll drive there tomorrow!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: amazinc
      j
      James Cristinian Aug 10, 2011 11:21 PM

      Get on US 83, the main Highway between Harlingen and McAllen, The Weslaco exit is a few miles east of McAllen. Head south to Progresso, then Progresso Lakes and you'll see the sign for Nuevo Progresso Mexico. We park and walk across as there is no need for a car. I Ilike the bar at Arturo's Restaurant. Get a premium on the rocks, some good TexMex nachos, just cheese, chips and jalapenos, and repeat. Go inside rhe restaurant and order dinner. I. like the perfectly fried speckled trout. ask for Juoaquin. You can also hit the streets and go to dozens of bars and drink while you shop, but be warned, they pack a wallop.

      http://www.shop-progreso.com/

    2. BiscuitBoy Aug 10, 2011 07:03 AM

      like vino, I believe most people have come to expect the powdered mix, are happy with it, and think that's what a margarita is. If you gave them tequila, lime juice and triplesec, they'd probably send it back

      4 Replies
      1. re: BiscuitBoy
        invinotheresverde Aug 10, 2011 07:47 AM

        Exactly. I make real margs at home and many people serve them for dont care for them.

        1. re: invinotheresverde
          invinotheresverde Aug 10, 2011 07:51 AM

          Forgot an "I" and an apostrophe in there. iPhone won't edit.

          1. re: invinotheresverde
            tommy Aug 10, 2011 03:34 PM

            That's interesting, as my experience has been exactly opposite. In fairness everyone is different, and I've managed to amass a group of friends who appreciate good food and drink, even though I would have never guessed that would happen when I first met them years ago. I credit my influence and passion for such things, leading the way and setting an example. Or maybe I just got lucky.

            1. re: tommy
              invinotheresverde Aug 10, 2011 03:51 PM

              Most people I know are into food/booze, but somehow the sweet marg prevails.
              It's a shame.

        2. a
          amazinc Aug 10, 2011 06:48 AM

          Oh the joy of a perfect margarita! Many years ago in Puerto Vallarta (before tourists found it)
          I would sit on the malecon or in the Hotel Oceano and have the real thing...tequila, limon, a dash of orange liqueur in a smal, salt rimmedl glass with an ice cube or two. None of this horrid fake-flavored slushy stuff that is served all over everywhere....even in, G-d forbid, Texas....Now the only place I get this little sip of paradise is in my own home. How did this happen ?? Who dumbed us down this much?? Mexican restaurant chains?? Boomers' sweet teeth??

          18 Replies
          1. re: amazinc
            j
            James Cristinian Aug 10, 2011 09:03 AM

            There's a little town across the border in south Texas called Nuevo Progresso. There margaritas are 1.25, premium 1.65. They're just lime juice, tequila, and an orange liquor called controy. It's a poor imitation of cointreau, tastes like gasoline straight, but somehow it works in this concotion. These are the best I've ever had. They're served in plastic cups, no less, but the salt sticks, and you can drink them on the streets, really street. The average American wouldn't touch them, but the winter Texans sure know about them.

            1. re: James Cristinian
              tommy Aug 10, 2011 09:54 AM

              Controy isn't all that bad (and seems to be the standard "premium" triplesec in Mexico, at least where I was), when compared to bottom shelf triplesecs. I believe this is the same stuff that Patron bottles and markets as Citronge in the states.

              But for my money, it's Cointreau or nothing. There's just not point in compromising.

              1. re: tommy
                j
                James Cristinian Aug 10, 2011 10:21 AM

                By premium, I meant the tequilas, we were drinking Hornitos. All the places used Controy. We brought some controy back from Mexico, compared it to the ones we made using Cointreau, and we liked the Controy better. Quick trivia. What drink was it that Victor and Ilsa Laslow ordered when they walked into Rick's Cafe Amercain?

                1. re: James Cristinian
                  tommy Aug 10, 2011 10:22 AM

                  I was just referring to the Controy when I said 'premium.' I understand what you were saying.

                  1. re: tommy
                    j
                    James Cristinian Aug 10, 2011 10:27 AM

                    Ok, wasn't sure. Victor ordered two Cointreau at Rick's in Casablanca. I also like it straight. I can't fnd controy here, so I 'suffer' with Cointreau in ritas.

                    1. re: James Cristinian
                      tommy Aug 10, 2011 10:49 AM

                      Citronge is Controy. You should be able to find that!

                2. re: tommy
                  DiningDiva Aug 10, 2011 11:11 AM

                  My take on Controy - which I too think is perfect in a margarita - is that it's the way it is in order to take the edge off the key limes.

                  The lime used in Mexico - cooking and beverages - is the key lime, not the persian one. The juice from a fresh key lime can be quite acidic and sharp. I think Controy cuts the acidicness better than Cointreau and certainly better than Grand Marnier.

                  I make margaritas from scratch every weekend for my 92 y.o. mother who lives with me...and these are not any whimpy slurpee versions. Over time I've noticed that when I get a batch of very tart key limes it takes more Cointreau to balance out the drink, and I'd rather add more of that than additional sugar or agave syrup. I think Controy sometimes works better and doesn't add as much sugar. I keep a container of fresh squeezed lime juice in the fridge at all times for maggies. When I have extra citrus (particularly oranges) that is about to turn, I just squeeze it into my lime juice jar and that also tones down the key limes.

                  I didn't know Citronge was controy, I'll have to try it.

                  1. re: DiningDiva
                    tommy Aug 10, 2011 12:00 PM

                    Most of the limes I get come from Mexico. I have to assume they also use them!

                    I'm not sure I believe that Controy was specifically formulated for a fruit that has variations depending on the time of year and crop. Hell margaritas aren't even a mexican drink (the cocktail wasn't invented in mexico), and most Mexicans that I've spoken to about tequila drink it straight, and find margaritas a bit of an amusing use of their favorite spirit. But who knows.

                    It definitely has more of a medicinal taste to my mind, when compared to Cointreau. But it doesn't taste as much like orange soda as lower-end triple secs.

                    1. re: tommy
                      DiningDiva Aug 10, 2011 12:46 PM

                      Hmmm....assuming most of my key limes come from Florida since CA generally embargoes citrus (and avocados) from Mexico to protect it's own crops.

                      I am travel in Mexico 6 - 8 weeks every year and rarely drink margaritas. Tequila straight up, beer, water or an agua fresca are vastly more appealing. All the maggies at the San Angel Inn in D.F. are truly an experience.

                      1. re: DiningDiva
                        tommy Aug 10, 2011 12:53 PM

                        I need to get back to Mexico for more research. :)

                        1. re: tommy
                          Veggo Aug 10, 2011 01:25 PM

                          My favorites are at Plaza Leza in Cozumel. They squeeze the limes for your 'rita when you order it. A couple of them with queso fundito with chorizo are a great way to begin a dinner of broiled conch with garlic.

                          1. re: Veggo
                            tommy Aug 10, 2011 01:40 PM

                            Sold! Damn, I might have to shake one in about 20 minutes.

                            1. re: Veggo
                              Vetter Aug 10, 2011 06:23 PM

                              Pardon me while I GASP WITH IMAGINED PLEASURE. Oh, Veggo, you just painted such a happy picture in my head.

                            2. re: tommy
                              DiningDiva Aug 10, 2011 03:03 PM

                              Sounds like a plan to me ;-). I'll be in Veracruz this time next month...

                              1. re: DiningDiva
                                tommy Aug 10, 2011 03:31 PM

                                I just shook one and have fish tacos on deck. It's almost as if I'm in Veracruz right now. Aside from this being new jersey.

                                1. re: tommy
                                  DiningDiva Aug 10, 2011 03:55 PM

                                  :-) have one for me

                    2. re: James Cristinian
                      kattyeyes Aug 10, 2011 10:20 AM

                      I make mine with Citronge, too. Your "tastes like gasoline straight" comment made me wonder...does it really?! Sad to say, straight, it really does seem closer to fuel than something you'd choose to drink. Even sniffing the two side by side, you'll get a harsh smack in the schnoz from the Citronge vs. the pleasant orange scent of the Cointreau. However, Citronge tastes just right in a 'rita.

                      1. re: kattyeyes
                        DiningDiva Aug 13, 2011 06:53 PM

                        Hey, to all that mentioned Citronge, thank you. I was at BevMo today and picked some up. Made margaritas this evening and so much happier with the result than with Cointreau. It's less sweet and doesn't fight with the little bit of agave nectar I generally add to mellow out the key limes :-).

                        Thank you, thank you, thank you

                  2. invinotheresverde Aug 10, 2011 06:35 AM

                    Veggo, remember that you're a 'hound. The average American wants sweet, syrupy margs, more often frozen than not, which is why most joints use mix.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: invinotheresverde
                      tommy Aug 10, 2011 08:20 AM

                      I'm not sure if the average American wants those, or that they are simply accustomed to those and think that's what a margarita is.

                      I know countless people who have come to my home and had a proper margarita and a light bulb went off, and they now understand and don't want anything to do with what passes as margaritas in bars and restaurants. The fact of the matter is they'd never had a margarita before that. They had whatever those things are in bars and restaurants. Of course, my friends aren't average Americans.

                      1. re: tommy
                        invinotheresverde Aug 10, 2011 11:10 AM

                        Our experiences differ vastly. I can only base mine on 15 years in the industry. It may be regional.

                      2. re: invinotheresverde
                        DiningDiva Aug 10, 2011 08:48 AM

                        Gotta agree with Tommy on this, I don't think it's so much what Americans want as much as it is what Americans have grown accustomed to. The vast majority have no frame of reference for a proper/correct Margarita and, therefore, don't know enough to reject the mediocre ones.

                        1. re: DiningDiva
                          tommy Aug 10, 2011 09:52 AM

                          How dare you say what I said but much better and more clearly. :)

                          1. re: tommy
                            DiningDiva Aug 10, 2011 11:12 AM

                            I'm so original ;-)

                            1. re: DiningDiva
                              tommy Aug 10, 2011 03:28 PM

                              To clarify, I meant you said it better. :). Just clarifying.

                              1. re: tommy
                                DiningDiva Aug 10, 2011 03:54 PM

                                But I basically said the same thing you did. Let's not split hairs here, you said it first and you said it well :-) I just tagged a bit on.

                                1. re: DiningDiva
                                  tommy Aug 10, 2011 06:09 PM

                                  You still said it better. :)

                                  hopefully people will "get it". Drink well!

                      3. Passadumkeg Aug 10, 2011 06:09 AM

                        I worked at a bar in NE Harbor, Me. and was told NOT to used limes and Cointreau, and to use the mix. I then moved to a fine old hotel in Sw Harbor and got to use all the limes and Cointreau I wanted. Fair price? Could have been worse.

                        1. DiningDiva Aug 9, 2011 03:33 PM

                          Uh-oh...sounds like you were the victim of an overpriced, low octane, slurpee that was passed off as the real deal. Hate, HATE, H-A-T-E when that happens. Resto maggies in the U.S. are 500 calories of a truly awful drink.

                          Come see me in SD Veggo. I'll take you to Tijuana where you can visit the tequila store with 600 different brands and then have your fill of proper Margaritas. Had a good one 2 weekends ago sitting on the patio of the newly remodeled and reopened Hotel Cesar...yes, where the salad was invented.

                          Please no sweet & sour mix, ick. And a very good tequila does not necessarily depend upon and upscale, expensive tequila to be delicious and well balanced.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: DiningDiva
                            Veggo Aug 9, 2011 05:34 PM

                            Yes, victim, many times during my now 4 months in Dallas. I call out Agave Azul in Carrollton for taking pride in a good, hand-crafted 'rita. I have been to easily a dozen other restos, some high end, others low, where the 'rita is clearly formulated and priced with add-ons to rip off folks who don't know better or simply don't care. I don't mean to make this local to where I am now, the 'rita ripoff is endemic in the northern '48.

                            Your invite is teasing, DD, I would love to tag along with you for a day of food and drink!

                          2. s
                            smartie Aug 8, 2011 08:40 PM

                            $6.50? I wish. Here in South Fl lots of bars offer their Margaritas for $9-14. It's crazy for some cheap tequila and mix. We drink at home mostly because bars have priced themselves too high.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: smartie
                              Veggo Aug 8, 2011 08:50 PM

                              And their latest upsell gig is a few drops of agave syrup, which is inexpensive, also. It's in your Publix grocery store in South FL.

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