Lots of drinks masquerade as a margarita, but a true margarita has three components:
- Orange liqueur
- Lime-based margarita mix
Your selection of orange liqueur is a no-brainer: Paula's Texas Orange makes the tastiest margarita hands down. But your choice of tequila and mix can greatly affect the taste profile of your drink.
For your top-shelf Paula's margaritas, we recommend using a 100% agave silver or reposado tequila.
Silver (or blanco) tequila is the basic clear tequila. It gives the classic "spiky" tequila flavor to a margarita.
Reposado tequila is aged in barrels and takes on an amber color. Reposados have a hint of smoke and oak that provides a smoother flavor in a margarita. Anejo tequila is aged even further and generally is reserved for sipping instead of mixing in margaritas.
For a large quantity of margaritas, you could use a "gold" tequila, which is not 100% agave but still has a reposado-like taste. Due to added sugar, a gold tequila can give a sweeter result, so adjust your lime mix accordingly.
About margarita mix
Our opinion is that the best margarita mix is simply fresh-squeezed lime juice. In our recipe of equal parts tequila, liqueur, and mix, we dilute the lime with an equal amount of water. Without the water, we feel the resulting margarita is too tart. Some folks like a bit more sweetness, for which we recommend using Minute Maid limeade (not the Bacardi margarita mixer) for part of the lime juice.
There are lots of pre-made margarita mixes out there. We don't ever use them, so we can't recommend any of them except for one: The Cedar Door's Mexican Martini mix, which still requires adding fresh lime juice. It's available at Spec's.
What's a Mexican Martini?
I'm sure I'll get some emails on this, but as far as I can tell, a Mexican Martini is just a margarita served in a shaker with ice and drunk from a martini glass, sometimes accompanied with olives. Let me know if there's a subtlety I'm missing.
What about salt?
Your call. We think it mostly detracts from the flavor of a good margarita, but we won't spank you if you do it.