The margarita is one of the most famous cocktails in the world. That means it got to taste pretty good, right? But what does it actually taste like, that’s what we’re going to explore in this article!
The margarita taste like agave, this is because the cocktail is based on tequila. However, it’s perfectly balanced between all 5 tastes. This is done by adding orange liqueur and lime juice to it. Which both give it a citrus flavor and balance the sour and sweet part of the cocktail.
As you can hear, the ingredients are carefully chosen. The margarita is part of the sour cocktail family, which all follow the same base rules. These are all well-balanced, with citrus as their sour part! More on, the sour family later in the article.
Before we can describe more in-depth what the margarita tastes like, you’ll need to know how it’s made.
What Do Margaritas Have in Them?
Let’s go over what those delicious margaritas have in them. And what makes this combination so mouth-watering!
The main ingredients in the margaritas are tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. These are the ones that are used in the classic version and most of the variants with slight adjustments.
That’s the short answer, and as mentioned there are a bunch of different variants of the margarita. Even when making the classic margarita, I would not recommend just choosing some random variants of the ingredients.
What I mean by that is, there are multiple brands making all of those ingredients. In Mexico, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of registered producers, and they obviously all can’t taste the same…
So how is it even possible to choose the right ingredients? Well, once you know what to look for in them, it’s actually pretty easy. Therefore, let’s look into that!
How to Choose The Right Type of Ingredients for Margarita
For the tequila, the most important thing to remember is that you want it to be made from 100% agave. This is the purest and most genuine form of tequila. Those that are not 100% are usually only half tequila and then some other liquor mixed with it (tequila must be a minimum of 51% agave). These won’t make the margarita how it’s supposed to taste.
Once you’ve identified a 100% agave, there are four main variants to choose from:
|Filled straight on a bottle after distillation.
|Aged 2 months to 1 year in an oak barrel.
|Aged minimum 1 year in oak barrel, max 3 years.
|Aged minimum 3 years in an oak barrel.
Choose either blanco/silver or reposado. The other two are a bit heavy with more oak taste which we don’t need for the margarita. What we want is the agave taste.
Next up it’s the orange liqueur:
For the margarita, we use what’s called a triple sec. Which is a dry type of orange liqueur (less sugar), but they’re still pretty damn sweet.
When choosing triple sec you’re facing a decision on whether to go with triple sec or Cointreau (which is also a triple sec…) The world is a weird place. However, when it comes to triple sec Cointreau is actually a league of its own.
Cointreau has a more complex flavor which is perfectly balanced between bitter orange and sweet. It can also be drunk alone, however, mostly used in cocktails. Triple sec is less complex and not something recommended to drink by itself. In terms of alcohol triple sec normally varies between 15-30% ABV while Cointreau is 40% ABV…
When it comes to the price, the Cointreau is often twice as expensive and more. But in our opinion, it’s totally worth it, and is, therefore, the recommended pick for orange liqueur!
Now that you know which types of ingredients to use, we’re much closer to having a complete picture of the margarita. However, what makes it so special is the way the ingredients are combined, with the perfect amount of each. This is no coincidence, and this brings us to the golden ratio of the sour cocktails!
How Much of Each Ingredient?
As mentioned the margarita belongs to the sour cocktail family. All of the cocktails which belong to this are built the same way. Once you know the rule, you’ll suddenly understand why the margarita recipe is the way it is!
The rule is as follows: 2-1-1…
Not so hard to remember! But still so important, why? Those numbers tell you exactly how much to use of each ingredient. It means two parts of base liquor – one part sweet – one part sour. For the margarita it goes like this:
|Tequila 100% agave
|Freshly squeezed lime juice
What’s so nice about this ratio is for the first, that it’s incredibly easy to remember how much to use of each ingredient. You are, however, not tied down to this ratio, it’s more like a pointer to where you approximately want to be. You should adjust it to your taste afterward (if not satisfied).
The second thing that’s just awesome is that your drink is about perfectly balanced when the ratio is followed. However, you should always taste and modify it, as the acidity of the lime varies on brand and season! This is something that’s called sampling, read more about that here.
Now, What Does It Actually Taste Like?
You’re ready! We’ve now been through all the ingredients, and how they are combined. You know what’s needed to know about the margarita! It’s time to discuss how it actually tastes like. Not just the ingredients separately. Remember this is a cocktail, it’s designed to be perfectly balanced as a whole.
To write this, I actually had to make myself a margarita to refresh my memory (I heard the irony). Refresh my memory on how it tastes. That way I can describe it as it is, and not just based on theory.
How was it?
Exaaactly as predicted. The perfect balance. However! I noticed one important thing that must be in place.
So, I went ahead and made the margarita, and is now slightly affected as I’m writing this. However, I took notes for each sip and focused on all the different tastes, their strengths, how long they lasted and how they worked together.
I shook the drink for 15 seconds until thermal equilibrium was reached (basically where the coldest temperature is reached and it’s no point shaking longer).
Then I poured it into my margarita glass, ice cold. And took a sip…
It was really good, the agave was there, sourness and the sweetness from the Cointreau. However, I felt it was a bit too bitter, something was not right. This is when I realized I had forgotten to rim the glass with salt…
So I sliced the lime into a wedge, ran it around the glass, and then rimmed it in salt. For those who aren’t familiar with this, here is a picture (plus some lime slicing action):
I took another sip…
Don’t remember anything after that. Just joking. It was perfect!
The balance was there. Bitterness gone. This is because salt actually counteracts bitterness, and enhances all the other flavors (more on that here). The thing I noticed is that, once your swallow, you can feel the whole margarita. All the tastebuds are satisfied, every 5 tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami.
It’s weird how you suddenly feel the sweetness so much better by just adding salt! Anyways, the sweetness is what disappears first, so I recommend really focusing on it once it’s there. Then it’s only the sour and agave left, it’s nice tho, as they are not very strong at this point.
This is exactly how it’s supposed to be. Remember this is a sour cocktail! This is why we add lime juice.
Now the lime juice is the next taste that disappears, it sits for 15-20 seconds.
In the end, you can just taste the agave, this taste sits in the “breathing” as well. It’s kind of like sitting in an old house, that smells like wood. Very relaxing! A note I wrote was: Would be perfect to drink at Christmas times while watching the Christmas tree!
Anyways, before the agave gets the chance to leave, you are ready for your second sip. Then the process repeats!
That’s it! I hope this detailed description of my margarita experience helped! Next thing, try it yourself. Will you have the same experience?