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Singing Praises for Margarita and Tequila Sunrise

Three of Pura Vida's Tequila Lineup
Three of Pura Vida's Tequila Lineup
Jim Hammond

Tequila is a very popular spirit in New Mexico and its praises have been sung in numerous songs. One source suggests that there could be hundreds of songs and listed 36 without adding Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville or the Eagle’s Tequila Sunrise; the two cocktails discussed here. The latter two are not about straight tequila, of course, but it does suggest the influence of this Mexican spirit that intoxicates as it seduces.

There are many versions of both cocktails that begin with the basic ingredients and then tinker with the recipe. To make any great cocktail, it is best to start with the classic recipe, before wandering off in other directions. The classic versions are presented here. The freshest ingredients and the quality of the tequila and liquors greatly influence the final result. The type of tequila used will also have an impact.

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor:

Anyone visiting Mexico has undoubtedly seen T-shirts bearing the legend above. There are four basic types of tequila and if one does try all four, they probably won’t remember the last one. The quality of the tequila is defined by the percentage of Weber Blue Agave used, with 100% identifying the best tequilas with most agave sourced from Jalisco, Mexico. The following list only includes 100% blue agave tequilas.

Silver Tequila: Typically clear and un-aged exhibiting the flavors of the agave.

Reposado Tequila: Typically aged in oak barrels from two to eleven months, providing a golden color with flavors imparted by the wood.

Añejo Tequila: Aged in oak barrels for over one year, providing an amber color with rich, mellow and complex flavors.

Extra Añejo Tequila: A newer classification added in 2006 that is aged in oak barrels for over three years, imbuing a mahogany color and the intensity of a premium spirit.

All but the silver tequilas are made for sipping, but also work well in cocktails.

“Wasting away again in Margaritaville . . .”

If one has lost their “shaker of salt”, it probably means it is time to stop. The Margarita is the most popular cocktail made with tequila with many bars and restaurants offering multiple variations. Silver tequila is the standard and often called a silver margarita or silver dollar margarita. The orange liquor commonly used is Curaçao Triple Sec, or simply triple sec, made in France since 1849. An alternative is Grand Marnier, which is brandy-infused orange liquor.

While there are many margarita mixes, the classic recipe is best with fresh lime juice. Many of the mixes use corn syrup rather than cane sugar, and it compromises the quality of good tequila or triple sec. Use organic agave nectar rather than sugar for a sweeter margarita. It mixes better and the bartender is going agave all the way by using it.

Prep Time: 3 minutes (unless you can’t find the limes)

Yield: 1 Cocktail


1 1/2 ounces tequila

1/2 ounce triple sec (Cointreau or Naranja is recommended)

1 ounce fresh lime juice

Place the ingredients in a shaker with plenty of ice. It can be served with the shaker ice in an Old Fashioned glass or strained into a martini glass. Coat the rim with salt or sugar as per one’s preference. Always ask for tequila-rocks at any area bar or restaurant to avoid getting a frozen margarita, which could have anything in it, but often not with good ingredients.

Note: Naranja is imported by Pura Vida, which also makes top-shelf tequilas, which are highly recommended.

“It’s another tequila sunrise . . .”

And if one has “a hollow feelin” this will brighten up their life. For visual appeal it is hard to top a Tequila Sunrise, the second most popular tequila-based cocktail. The procedure for making it appealing is part of the recipe. This is another cocktail that should not use canned mixes. Oops, there goes the visual appeal. Sweeten, if one must, with organic agave nectar as mentioned above.

The original version used lime juice, club soda and crème de cassis, but the most popular and now classic version is below.

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Yield: 1 Cocktail


4 ounces orange juice

2 ounces tequila (Silver, Reposado and Añejo have all been used)

1/2 ounce grenadine

Orange slice and/or maraschino cherry for garnish

Pour tequila and orange juice into a highball glass with ice cubes and stir.
Slowly pour the grenadine around the inside edge of the glass, allowing it to sink and then slowly rise to mix with the other ingredients. Finally add garnish, but leave out the umbrella.

Drink responsively and note that each recipe called for one cocktail!

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