Next to a really good red wine, Margaritas are my favorite alcoholic beverage.
When we were living in the US, we often used to make margaritas for special occasions, using a recipe for homemade margarita mix that was spectacular. (Equal parts fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice, and sugar, diluted with 3 parts water.)
They were fantastic, but also a lot of work— not a simple Sunday evening cocktail to toss together on a moment’s notice. And they had a lot of sugar them: which is not what most people want anymore (ourselves included)... and makes hangovers worse for those who have one too many (or more).
With my husband’s family, making a Mexican feast is usually the dinner of choice for special occasions— birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Most of us are vegetarians, and even those who aren’t are always happy too. We make homemade beans, fresh tortillas, and all the fixin’s from scratch. Which is much more satisfying than tofurky or some other meal designed to replicate the traditional meat-eater’s feast. Everyone makes part of the meal to share the load, and fresh margaritas were often our contribution.
By the way, creating a make-your-own burrito/taco spread is a great option whenever you have a group of diverse eaters for a party or gathering. Each can assemble their own meal: vegetarian, vegan, grain-free ‘paleo’,
gluten-free (with corn tortillas, or rice to make rice & bean bowls- aka ‘naked’ burritos), giant burritos stuffed with everything, light salads… whatever each person wants.
It’s quite easy to pull together a feast like this too: Beans (homemade or not), rice, tortillas (flour and corn); roasted veggies and/or some sort of meat/chicken for those who prefer to make a grain-free plate or salad; cheese for those eat dairy; with guacamole, salsas, hot peppers, shredded lettuce, and diced tomatoes. And don’t forget the Mexican beer and margaritas.
When we moved to Argentina, our margarita-making days were heavily curtailed. For one, they don’t have limes in Argentina. (Crazy, I know.) Then it became increasingly difficult to get good tequila. (We are not remotely tequila snobs- give us some good ol’ Jose Cuervo Gold any day- but the Argentina-made tequila is horrible. The flavor is grotesque and it feels like it goes straight to the liver... I suppose rotgut is the word to use.) BUT, we recently found Jose Cuervo Gold in the Duty Free shop on our way from Bolivia. So we are back in business!
All of this is a long way of telling you about the perfect, easy, margarita solution. It is a light version of margaritas that provides all the authentic flavor, without the sugar, and without all the hard work or making margarita mix. These also use less alcohol (but don’t taste like it) and keep you hydrated as you drink. A healthy and light margarita, if there ever was one. We love these margarita spritzers and look forward to them as much, or even more than, traditional margs.
For the bubbly water, you can use Perrier, San Pellegrino, or your favorite unflavored ‘agua con gas’, as we call it in South America. If you’ve got limes, by all means use them. If I had limes I would do 1/2 a lime and a 1/2 a lemon in place of the full lemon in each drink. But even without the limes, these are tasty.
Recipe for Margarita Spritzers
The following makes one drink. They are so easy to make that we usually just mix them on a glass-by-glass basis. If you’ve got a group, write up the recipe on an index card to place by the ingredients. Each person can make their own. That way you won't have to make drinks all night. Or scale up to make a pitcher if desired!
Note: 1 shot typically equals 1.5 ounces. 1 fluid ounce equals 2 tablespoons.
Juice of one lemon
1/2 shot good tequila
1/4 shot Cointreau or Grand Marnier (orange-flavored liqueur)
Pinch of salt
Unflavored bubbly water (cold is preferred, or leave room for extra ice)
In a tumbler glass, combine the first four ingredients. I start with the lemon— squeezing it directly into the glass and scooping out any seeds before adding the other ingredients.
Fill the glass with bubbly water. Add a few ice cubes.