Horse of a Different Color

With our future goggles on, lindsay and I are in full time prep mode for fall. Were starting to eyeball scarfs, talk about seasonal flavors to start experimenting with…..heck, we’ve even started talking about Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin Patch. With this in mind, let this post serve as our last ode to summer for 2012. Wether your a fall fan or more of a heat freak, in our line of work, there are things that speak highly of summer. Though I enjoy rye and scotch anytime, rum and tequila seem to bring Americans, mentally, to a place of endless vacation, beaches and a general sense of outdoor-ism. I’ve specifically been on a Latin kick lately, consuming beers brewed south of the border, while finding myself itching for margaritas. This might be old hat for some, but in the craft mixology world the margarita is one of the strangest concoctions, lending itself to being butchered by most, while having an interesting history of which most are unfamiliar. To begin, a traditional margarita is a shaken combination of tequila, lime juice and Cointreau, which is an orange liquor of bitter orange peel. Today, a high percentage of places that offer margaritas leave the orange element out completely, substituting it for raspberry, blueberry, wowzer-berry or some other twist. This simple combo, though, has its grandfather to thank for its perfect balance of flavor. This grandfather is the Brandy Crusta. Appearing in print in 1862, a bloke by the name of Joe Santini invented the Brandy Crusta as an improvement on the original “cocktail” recipe of spirits, bitters, sugar and water. He added a liqueur and the fancy little invention of a sugar rimmed glass. In addition to this he skirted the rim of the glass with a large lemon peel. This, in time, gave way to the all too over looked Sidecar. The Sidecar was essentially the same cocktail of brandy, lemon juice and Cointreau but originally contained no bitters and no over sized lemon peel. To make a long story short, this perfect balance of spirit, orange liquor and lemon juice evolved into the Margarita, with tequila taking the place of brandy and lime juice being the substitution for lemon. The other interesting thing about the margarita is that it’s one of only 2 classic cocktails using tequila as its base! Though the Tequila Daisy was a popular concoction of tequila, citrus juice and a sweeter (like curaçao orange liquor) the margarita was responsible for popularizing this border consumed spirit and putting this on the U.S. map like it is today. Let me point out that there are now many wonderful drinks using all versions of the agave plant, be it tequila or mezcals, blanco, anjeo or reposado. We do, though, tip our hat to the margarita for taking tequila past the partying Hollywood crowd of the 30’s and making it an everyday, summertime, refreshing base to a not-too-often honored cocktail.

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The Margarita
2oz blanco tequila
1oz curaçao
3/4oz lime juice

Shake vigorously, strain and pour over ice in a salt rimmed glass.
(For a traditional Brandy Crusta, use this recipe substituting brandy or cognac for tequila, lemon juice for lime and sugar on the rim of the glass for salt. A dash or two of Angostura Bitters is good too!)

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