Joanne Weir, a San Francisco chef, tequila expert, and the subject of one of our early kitchen tours, makes a margarita at her Bay Area restaurant Copita that is known as one of the best in the region. She says — and I agree whole-heartedly — that the biggest mistake people make with their margaritas is that they use too many ingredients like Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau. It's all about the balance of sweet and tart in a glass with just a few ingredients: 100% agave tequila (Weir prefers blanco), freshly squeezed lime juice and agave nectar.
This is as pure a margarita as you can make, with agave in the spotlight: tequila from agave and the sweetener from agave. Leave the Triple Sec and Cointreau behind, this may be your new house margarita recipe.
This week I made a batch of my (well, my tweak on Joanne's recipe) Pure Mexican Margaritas with key limes; they are a major pain to juice, but worth the effort for its uniquely tart flavor. Don't fret if you don't have key limes at your fingertips; the margarita made with regular limes will still make you swoon. Just make sure to use ripe, juicy fruit, and organic if possible. With a recipe this simple, there's no hiding behind sub-par ingredients.
Pure Mexican Margarita
(1/4 cup) tequila
(2 tablespoons) freshly squeezed lime juice
(1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons) agave nectar or 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) Simple Syrup
(1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons) cold water
lime, sliced crosswise into wheels
kosher salt, optional
Shake the tequila, lime juice, agave nectar, and water vigorously with ice and strain into a chilled rocks glass or coupe filled with ice. Garnish with the wheel of lime.
Optional garnish: Before filling the glass with ice, moisten the rim and dip it in a dish of kosher salt.
Check out more from Joanne Weir - she cooks, teaches, travels, makes wine, and shakes a mean margarita.
Related: The Perfect Orange-y Margarita
(Images: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)