Since it's been unseasonably warm this past week, why not take a break from wine and enjoy a refreshing margarita? But I'm not talking about one of those fluorescent green slurpees you get from the local Tex-Mex joint. Here's a fully fresh, well-balanced margarita shamelessly adapted from Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill.
I followed that recipe, except I used only a splash of water and added in some orange juice. And if company's over, I'll float an orange slice like I did today (you can barely see it in the picture). I'm not big on salted rims, but I did sprinkle a bit on the orange slice.
For the tequila, I used a bottle I got on clearance. I'm not a tequila snob, and while I've had some amazing anejo tequila once or twice, I don't particularly care for the flavor on its own. So while purists will tell you to use nothing but the $100 a bottle tequila for anything, in reality the citrus flavors are so strong as to render any delicate subtleties invisible. I lucked out with this $15 bottle of Dos Dedos that happened to be 100% blue agave, but generally any "gold" tequila will work well. Pick a silver if you want a cleaner taste. Just avoid the dirt cheap stuff that smells like paint thinner.
For the brandy part of it, I used Gran Gala, an inexpensive Italian version of Grand Marinier.
Fresh lime juice is a must, and though it's a matter of personal preference, I think the bit of fresh orange juice evens it out well. I also like to chop up some of the citrus peels and throw them in the shaker to help release some of the essential oils.