There isn’t anything inherently Halloween-appropriate about a margarita, but I’ve hosted a lot of parties in my time and there are those guests who, like my father, aren’t interested in quirky new (old) drinks. Oddball old-fashioned recipes like the Alamagoozlum and the Corpse Reviver #2 do not appeal—”What, don’t you know how to make a normal drink?”
While a margarita is not exotic or exciting—being, as it is, pretty much the most popular cocktail ever—it is straightforward, simple and easy to recognize. There are no strange ingredients, it requires very little work outside juicing, and if you do it right it always tastes great. So spurred by the arrival of blood orange season and the intensely terrible Blood Orange Margarita my sister had at a bar last week, I tweaked and twisted a recipe until it came out delicious, deep red and perfectly appropriate for fall. If you’re intrigued by serving margaritas at your party but want something a bit more contemporary, check out Eric Alperin’s bitter margarita variation known as the Sculaccione.
1½ oz fresh blood orange juice
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz Cointreau
2 oz blanco tequila
Yield: 1 serving
Shake well with ice and strain into a salt-rimmed cocktail glass or a salt-rimmed old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with a blood orange wedge and a sprig of fresh sage.
To batch in advance:
2¼ c fresh blood orange juice
1½ c fresh lime juice
1½ c Cointreau
3 c blanco tequila
Yield: 12 servings
Stir all the ingredients together in a pitcher. When ready to serve, measure out 5-6 oz per drink and shake over ice. Strain into a salt-rimmed cocktail glass or a salt-rimmed old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with a blood orange wedge and a sprig of fresh sage.
The thing about a good margarita is the balance between sweet, tart and salty. You want the earthy, peppery taste of the tequila but you also want the acidic bite of the lime with the sweet orange counterbalance from Cointreau and a salt rim to make everything pop. A good margarita showcases all the ingredients simultaneously, and if you add anything else you want to put in just enough to marry harmoniously with the pre-existing equilibrium. Normally I don’t use quite this much citrus in my margaritas, but since blood oranges have less sweetness than regular ones, the juice blends in nicely. If you want a more intense red color and orange flavor, you could drop the lime to half an ounce and use two ounces of blood orange juice, but either way it’ll be good. The sage adds a lovely touch to this, and the aromatic effects of the garnish are especially nice if you bruise the sage leaves lightly before you garnish to release some of their aroma.
And since Halloween is close upon us, here’s a little gift to get you all in the mood!