My Go-To, Riffable Margarita Is As Easy As Counting to 4

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The folded piece of paper in my mom’s recipe box simply reads: MG Margaritas. The MG tells you nothing about the drink itself, but rather about the origins of the recipe, it came from a group of her friends who all drive MG cars.

I appreciate their taste in classic cars and in strong drinks—and in their imprecise recipes. This margarita recipe calls for the juice of 2 limes, which, yes, I know varies, but truly it’s okay. I tweaked their recipe only slightly: the original calls for superfine sugar (and more of it than I’m partial to), which I swapped out in favor of simple syrup. Superfine sugar isn’t always readily available and regular granulated sugar won’t always dissolve fully, which makes simple syrup a better solution in my book. And yes, although it takes slightly more effort to make than simply opening up a bag of sugar, it stores well. So make a batch and you’ll be all set for future cocktail cravings.

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Once I figured out what the perfect amount of simple syrup was (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon… or 4 teaspoons!), I realized that remembering the recipe was as simple as counting to four: 1 ounce Cointreau, 2 limes (juiced), 3 ounces gold tequila, and 4 teaspoons simple syrup.

I love this margarita and its riffability so much that I included two different variations of it in my upcoming cookbook, Cooking with Scraps, but you don’t have to wait for it to come out (in October, so sweet of you to ask), to play around with the recipe for yourself:

  • Add some fruit: I like to muddle a bit of fruit, like a few strawberries or blueberries, in a cocktail shaker before adding the other ingredients. (And then after pouring the drinks, I eat the boozy fruit mush left in the shaker with a spoon—cook’s treat!)
  • Or just fruit juice: Add whatever juice (or juices!) you like. I am partial to beets (don’t knock it till you try it. Whichever one you choose, I recommend using 2 ounces or less.
  • Switch up the simple syrup: If you don’t want to mess with potential texture from fruit (pulp-free OJ lovers, I’m talking to you) or want to use sour ingredients (hello, rhubarb), using a flavored simple syrup is the way to go.
  • Infuse the tequila: This option requires planning ahead, but not necessarily as much as you’d think. Some infusions, like jalapeño, are flavorful enough that they’ll be ready in a matter of hours. Read up on the basics, and then get experimenting. Ginger + mint? Pineapple? Cilantro + jalapeño? Yes, yes, yes.
  • Add bubbles: Top off the margaritas with a splash of club soda, you’ll get a bit of effervescence (and tone them down a little in the process).
  • Flavored rim: Try using a flavored salt, a blend of sugar and salt, or mix a spice or spice blend in with the salt (like chili powder or ground ginger, or anything else that strikes your fancy) for a little extra hit of flavor as you sip.
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What’s your idea of a perfect margarita?

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