Monday, May 25, 2015

Frozen Margaritas

Frozen Margaritas
Smoky frozen margarita
On a hot day, I love a good frozen drink, and nothing beats a good frozen margarita, sometimes called a blended or blender margarita. We drink then like fiends at our favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurants. Is there a better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than on an outdoor patio with some chips, good guacamole and frozen margaritas? I doubt it.

When we're at my mom's Oregon beach house, I make a drink I call--appropriately--the beach margarita. I use frozen limeade in this drink, which simplifies it immensely so I can spend less time in the kitchen and more time on our deck overlooking the ocean. We've tried several brands of frozen limeade, and I really have to recommend Minute Maid for this, as it has a truer lime flavor than other brands. You don't need to thaw the limeade, just use it frozen. Although I generally use reposado tequila in margaritas, for this drink I'm content to use a mixto tequila like Jose Cuervo Especial Gold. This drink is tart, not tarted up.

For something fancier, there's Booker & Dax bartender Dave Arnold's Blender Marg, a recipe from his book Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail. As the name implies, this is a science-focused book, basically Modernist Cuisine for the mixology set. The book is heavy on technique, although much more experimental than last year's technique-driven The Bar Book by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. For the home bartender, Liquid Intelligence is much less accessible--incorporating liquid nitrogen and centrifuge into the cocktail-making toolkit (for something similarly science-minded yet more accessible to a home audience, I recommend Kevin Liu's Craft Cocktails at Home). Despite that, some of Arnold's recipes are more approachable, and the discussions in the book are quite interesting. I love his experiments with stirring and diluting Manhattans, for example (and it's a real shame that there's a mistake in the Manhattan recipe in this section of the book, given that discussion of ratios is a key element in many recipes), which finds that smaller pieces of ice used for stirring a drink will not dilute a drink more than large pieces so long as the drink is always mixed until it reaches the same temperature (-2 degrees Celsius, in this case).

Arnold explains that the proportions of a blender margarita, as opposed to a standard shaken margarita, should have more sugar and less acid, plus less liquid overall to account for the extra dilution from using very small pieces of ice. He achieves this by upping to proportion of liqueurs to liquor. Most shaken margarita recipes (like the ones below in the "related" links) have about twice as much tequila as liqueur. For his Blender Marg, Arnold reverses that, using 1.5 oz. of liqueur--a mixture of orange Cointreau and herbal Yellow Chartreuse to 3/4 oz. mezcal. This ups the sweetness of the drink without needing added sugar and also keeps it potent, since these are higher-alcohol liqueurs. The Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub gives the smoky-sweet drink a nice hint of spice.

Frozen Beach Margarita
Frozen Beach Margarita
Makes 3 drinks

6 oz. frozen limeade (half a 12-oz. container, preferably Minute Maid)
2/3 cup tequila (such as Jose Cuervo Especial Gold)
1/3 cup orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Patron Citronge)
2 cups of ice

Combine frozen limeade, tequila, orange liqueur and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve in margarita or glasses (or other glasses, whatever is available at the beach).

Smoky Frozen Margarita
Adapted from Dave Arnold's Blender Marg recipe in Liquid Intelligence

1 oz. orange liqueur (such as Cointreau)
3/4 oz. mezcal
1/2 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
1 oz. fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt
10 drops of Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub
4-5 oz. ice cubes

Combine orange liqueur, mezcal, yellow Chartreuse, lime juice, salt, habanero shrub and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth (don't overblend). Serve in a margarita glass.


2015 Summer Cocktails Week

Smoky Pear Margarita (mezcal, pear liqueur, lemon, lime)

Classic Margarita (tequila, orange liqueur, lime, agave)

Margarita on Fire (tequila, mezcal, orange liqueur, lime, agave, habanero shrub)

Ginger Margarita (tequila, ginger liqueur, lime)

Apple Margarita (tequila, ginger liqueur, apple, agave, lemon, bitters)

Smoked Sage Margarita (tequila, orange liqueur, lime, smoked sea salt, sage)

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