Today is a day for celebration! Why you ask? Well, this margarita is the very first cocktail ever to grace the pages of The Cilantropist. Although I have undoubtedly imbibed many a cocktail since starting this blog, I have yet to share any recipes with you. You politely reminded me of this fact earlier this year, and so I thought I would celebrate the 1-week countdown to my birthday by sharing a buzz-inducing beverage. (Did you catch what I just said there? Yes! My birthday is just seven short days from today!)
I will fully admit that the reason I haven't shared any cocktail recipes is that my bartending skills are zilch. At home I occasionally drink wine in the evenings, but there are some days when a strong drink is imperative. (You know, when you have one of those days. Don't pretend you don't know what I am talking about.) When that happens, I usually just pour some juice in a glass, add some vodka, and call it a day. Embarrassing, but true. Other times if I am feeling more ambitious or inspired, I throw something together, shake it up, and pour it over ice in a pretty glass. I flit around and pretend it is a trendy cocktail, when it really is just the blunderings of a home cook who knows nothing about mixing drinks.
So when my friend Mary was visiting a few weekends ago, I decided I wanted to make an actual drink from an actual recipe. I figured I should start with baby steps and I turned to the most steadfast and softcore chef possible: Ina Garten. Oh how I love Ina, but no one would ever call her wild and crazy, so I reasoned that her cocktail recipes would be simple and straightforward. Taking it even a step further, I sourced my recipe from her most recent cookbook, How Easy is That? Fabulous Recipes and Easy Tips. She had a recipe for a Pink Grapefruit Margarita and I was sold by the little twist on this traditional drink.
Alright Ina, how easy is it? Lets make a cocktail!
Let me share one of my 'Easy Tips' : Buy this Norpro juicer with grater. It is less than $10 and one of the top tools I use in the kitchen. The juice accumulates in the bottom container, where you can measure the liquid by pints or cups, and also cover it to store in the fridge. Genius!
True to form, her recipe did look simple enough, calling for pink grapefruits, limes, tequila and triple sec. I had a few pink grapefruits on hand, but I had picked up some fabulous Cocktail Grapefruits from the farmers market and wanted to use those. Everything started out great, and the cocktail grapefruits produced TONS of bright orange-yellow juice.
Ina, my hands are a little tired from juicing, but I must admit, this is pretty easy so far.
When it came time to squeeze the limes, I remembered the one caveat to making a great-tasting margarita: You need a lot of lime juice, which means you need to squeeze a lot of limes. Do you want to make this job even harder? Go ahead and cave to the allure of tiny key limes. My friend and I discovered the hard way that they are about as easy to squeeze as a rock, and have about two drops of juice per lime. Not kidding.
Alright Ina. Seriously? How easy is this?? Not easy. I think I have permanently injured my thumb muscle from squeezing limes, and my friend squirted lime juice into my left eye. Shit!
Ina, we are going to assume your 'Easy Tip' for fixing this situation is hysterical laughter. Followed immediately by a trip to the grocery store to buy normal limes.
(Note to self: Never buy key limes again.
Instead use money saved to buy lime juicer.)
After the debacle with the lime juice was in the past, we finally got to combine everything with some actual alcohol (which by this point we really needed). We followed Ina's measurements to a T, with only the substitution of using Cointreau instead of Triple Sec. And...HOLY COW that drink was strong!
Hey there Ina, I think you do have a wild side. Maybe I am a lightweight, but you must secretly party like a rockstar. After having a few of these drinks, I can only imagine how easy you are! *wink wink*
When all was said and done, we toned down the margarita mixture a little bit by just slightly increasing the ratio of juice to alcohol. After all, we were making these drinks for a fun ladies night, not 'girls gone wild.' I honestly loved the flavor of the cocktail grapefruits in the margarita, probably because it was a nice change from the typical flavor. The other gals really enjoyed them too, and we spent the whole night laughing it up, sharing stories, and rocking out to an awesome mix CD.
Oh, and Ina, thanks for helping me out with my first cocktail. Might not have been as easy as I had thought, but it was definitely FUN.
p.s. Please send me an invite to your next secret wild party, I would like to see you in action.
When you have your margarita, don't be so eager to drink it that you forget to add the ice!
I made this recipe using cocktail grapefruits, which are much sweeter than the regular pink grapefruits which Ina calls for in her original recipe. Use any sort of grapefruits that you like, but just keep in mind that the more tart the grapefruit, the more tart your drink! Decide what to use based on your preference.
1 1/2 cup grapefruit juice, I used cocktail grapefruits
1/2-3/4 cup freshly squeeze lime juice (depending on your taste, tartness)
1 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec orange liqueur
1 cup White tequila
About 2 cups ice
About 1 tsp kosher salt (optional)
Additional kosher salt for rimming glasses (optional)
1 lime cut into wedges for garnish (optional)
To make the margarita, combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice, tequila, and cointreau in a large pitcher. Taste, and if you like, add 1 tsp kosher salt. Even when they were served in salted glasses I preferred some salt in the drink. (This might have been because I used sweet, rather than tart, grapefruits).
To serve, run one of the limes around the edge of a glass, and then dip the glass into a plate of kosher salt. Let the glass juice/salt dry for a moment, then add ice and pour margarita mixture in to fill the glass. If you like, garnish the rim of the glass with a lime slice. Enjoy immediately, ice cold.