Scientific Margarita Research Results

Resumption of our culinary tour through Argentina will have to wait another day. Instead, we bring you the results of last night’s margarita blind tasting, in the name of science, which proved beyond any doubt that ours is indeed not merely a wine club, but in fact, as the Rodman’s wine guy said several years ago, “a drinking club.” Happily, we have resolved several difficult yet critical questions surrounding the margarita.

We know that premade bottled margarita mix is an abomination; we know this without having to do any further research, so we made all the ritas with fresh juice squeezed from twenty-five H-Mart limes (high quality limes at five for a dollar!), mixed all together prior to margarita-making so the overall lime juice would be identical in each drink.

Fabulous H-Mart limes and a few nice bottles of something

Fabulous H-Mart limes and a few nice bottles of something

We were testing for two things: tequila and orange liqueur. We started with the liqueur experiment, mixing three sets of drinks, each containing lime juice, Cuervo 1800 Silver tequila (basic low-end 100% agave), a whisper of sugar, and one each of Cointreau, Grand Marnier, and Montezuma triple sec ($4.99 at Montgomery County liquor). Our hypothesis was that the differences among the three would be obvious, and notable, and that the triple sec would suffer by comparison.

We were half right: the differences were indeed notable, initially in appearance — the Grand Marnier drinks were much more orange in color. They all tasted different too, but the surprise was that a majority of us preferred the triple sec, which was deemed more drinkable, no doubt because it is only 30 proof, which all the others (including the tequilas) are 80 proof.  This can be dangerous, of course: 30 proof plus 80 proof repeated three times instead of two (or five instead of four) will get a person even loopier than the alternative. But the greater lesson is, thou shalt not be a liqueur snob, because the Montezuma makes a perfectly tasty margarita, and although we will still use Cointreau when we want to be all fancy, triple sec will be a key part of Code Green going forward (Code Green is when one of us calls the other en route home from a hard day’s work and says “Code Green!” meaning, I sure hope there is a cold margarita waiting for me when I walk through the door in a few minutes).

Moving on to the tequila test, we were hoping to prove whether or not expensive tequila is worth the money, and whether or not being made from 100% blue agave is really important. In this round, all three drinks were made from lime juice, triple sec, a glance of sugar, and one of these three tequilas: Sauza Blanco (not 100% agave), Cuervo 1800 silver (100%), and Herradura silver (100%). Some might argue that even Herradura is not sufficiently high quality (i.e. expensive) for testing purposes, but it is at the upper end of what we are willing to pay, so Patron or better simply wasn’t happening.

This time, nobody had any idea which was which, and guesses were all over the map. Most interesting was that everyone thought the Sauza had to be one of the 100% agave tequilas. Maybe the extra sugar makes the Sauza taste better on our corn-syrup-tainted American palates?  We are certainly not tequila sophisticates, compared to some people. The consensus seemed to be that the Herradura was a little too assertive, although a couple of us liked its comparative complexity. Nobody seemed to like the 1800 all that much, at least by comparison.

But all six margaritas were at least drinkable to everyone, I thought they were all very good, but the big lesson we all learned is that Sauza and Montezuma (and fresh limes!) will make a perfectly nice, tasty margarita for a fraction of the cost of one made from 100% agave and a more expensive liqueur. Personally, I will still reach for the Herradura (or whatever, in the same price range) when I can, but the triple sec was really an eye-opener. As always, further research is still required…

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