America's most popular tequila-based libation is having a special day: National Margarita Day (who knew?!). Although Americans need no excuse to enjoy this tasty indulgence -- tequila producer Herradura claims we consume them at the rate of 185,000 per hour -- here's everything you'll need to know.
The International Bartenders Association-certified margarita recipe consists of the following, which produces an IBA-sanctioned 7:4:3 ratio of tequila, triple sec/cointreau, and lime/lemon juice (50% tequila, 29% Triple Sec or cointreau, 21% fresh lime or lemon juice):
On the rocks; poured over ice
Salt-rimmed glass, lime slice
3.5 cl (seven parts) tequila
2.0 cl (four parts) Cointreau or Triple Sec
1.5 cl (three parts) lemon or lime juice
Rub the rim of the glass with the lime slice to make the salt stick to it. Shake the other ingredients with ice, then carefully pour into the glass (taking care not to dislodge any salt). Garnish and serve over ice.
What's the difference between cointreau and triple sec? Jordan Mackay explains at Chow.com:
Triple Sec and curaçao are just catchall terms for orange-flavored liqueur; there aren't any official and well-policed definitions of the terms. Some people consider Triple Sec a type of curaçao, while others say that curaçao is a subset of Triple Sec. The major difference seems to be that Triple Secs are generally uncolored, while curaçaos come in neon shades...
HuffPost Food contributor Tony Sachs sorts through the merits of various orange liqueurs, noting:
Which triple sec you use in your margs should not be taken lightly, any more than your choice of tequila. My ideal margarita recipe is three parts tequila to two parts triple sec to one part lime juice. That means triple sec is fully one-third of of the drink. A good triple sec will temper the sourness of the lime juice and smooth out the fire of the tequila, while at the same time adding its own depth and complexity to the drink. A bad one will add little more than sugar and some kind of (usually artificial-tasting) orange flavor. There are literally dozens of orange liqueurs on the market, be they triple secs or curaçaos or otherwise named.
Check out his favorites here.
For an exquisite variation on a classic margarita, watch this video from renowned Mixologist Eben Freeman, of New York's now-defunct Tailor::
Once the fun and subsequent fog from National Margarita Day has passed, check out Tony Sachs' guide to aged tequilas worth savoring unadulterated.