August 30, 2013

Best Way to Squeeze a Lime and my Favorite Cocktail, Revised

When I get the chance to have cocktail hour, I enjoy pairing my cocktail with the mood of the moment and/or the weather. But I love a good margarita most of all, and it's hard to imagine any weather in which I'd pass one up.

A long time ago, I posted our margarita recipe, along with some tasting notes about different tequilas and orange liquors. We have mostly stuck with Sauza Hornitos tequila and Cointreau as the favorites. The recipe has evolved a bit otherwise, particularly with regard to the lime juice-- fresh limes are where it's at.

I always used to keep a bottle of lime juice in the fridge for use in recipes, and I started buying an organic one that I thought tasted better than the more ubiquitous ReaLime brand, and I liked that its single ingredient was lime juice. But at some point we realized that a squeeze of juice from an actual lime was so much better than any brand of bottled. This may seem obvious, but it took me a while to realize that fresh lime juice tastes completely different than bottled lime juice. Bottled is stronger, more bitter, and distracting in a drink, compared to the fresh, sweet, bright taste of a just-juiced fruit (even if said fruit has traveled a long way to get to me). Bottled lime juice is better than nothing in a pinch, but fresh yields a much more delicious drink. I've found it is well worth keeping a few limes in the drawer in the refrigerator. They last a good ten days or more, so I don't find myself throwing them out.                                        
Around the same time that we discovered fresh limes are worth having around, we discovered a kitchen gadget that has earned its keep with juicing these fresh limes. I used to find juicing a lime or a lemon an ordeal. In the past we had two options: either the attachment to the stand mixer which did the job but hardly seemed worth the number of pieces dirtied, or a plastic juicer in the classic shape with a cup on the bottom to theoretically catch the juice. It felt like it was going to break as you twisted the half a lime back and forth on it to gain what seemed like a tiny amount of juice. We bought this Fresh Force Citrus Juicer at King Arthur Flour on a whim, and I use it whenever a dish or a drink calls for lime or lemon juice. You slice the fruit in half, place it flat side down (counter-intuitive to the shape of the squeezer). Squeeze the handles together with little effort, and all the juice comes neatly, efficiently out the bottom at once. 

I also like the simplicity of working with fractions of a lime versus measurements in teaspoons or shot glasses. It it calls for more than a wedge of lime for garnish, I think just about every drink recipe that calls for any amount of lime juice works well with half a lime.

Our revised recipe is the following:

1 oz. (Sauza Hornitos) tequila (or 1 1/2 if you're feeling footloose)
1 oz. (Cointreau) orange liquor
the juice from half a lime
1 - 1 1/2 oz. cold water (makes it taste a little less strong; more importantly, makes drink last a little longer)
~ 3/4 oz. simple syrup (we keep on hand in a syrup pourer in the fridge)

Salt glass if desired. Combine all ingredients in a glass, then fill with ice and enjoy.

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