Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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National Margarita Day and Favorite Margarita Recipes

February 22nd, 2011 · No Comments

An email tells me that today is National Margarita Day. Who thinks these food “holidays” up? And what’s wrong with their calendars? Wouldn’t a thinking mind put National Margarita Day on May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) when Americans get happily blitzed on’ritas in the name of their southwestern neighbors – even if they’re weak in history?

Then again, Margarita drinkers usually don’t need any excuse. Paint-drying parties. Rotated-tire-parties. I’m-wearing-clean-underwear celebrations. You get the drift.

If you don’t want to make your own, hit a Cantina Laredo closest to you – $4 Cantina-Ritas all day and night.

But if you’re of a mind, here are some of my favorite Margarita recipes. Note that I’m a purist – salt or nothing on the rim – no graham cracker crumbs, rock sugar – nada. And I’ve been a grown-up for a long time – no frozen Margarita slushies for me: Make ’em straight up. Oh, and drink responsibly – savor the flavors and one will do you.

Florida ripe for Margaritas

Florida’s just terrific for Mararitas – we’ve got tropical fruits that make them splendid. Plain limes, Key limes, mangoes, pineapples – and of course, oranges. All mix remarkably well with tequila.

Let’s start with orange – my personal favorite. On a story assignment, I visited the plant where the new 4-Orange Vodka was made in Central Florida – and saw the fresh oranges that go into this stuff. I decided that, like sausage and lawmaking, fermenting and distilling isn’t the most photogenic or wonderful aroma around and should be left done unseen and unsmelled.

But oh – that finished product!  The best orange vodka bar none. I don’t say that because I’m Florida prejudiced — but because it’s truly delicious. Sippable cold, out of the bottle, but just great in this Margarita, too. Be very careful with this – tequila and vodka and liqueur – oh my! They go down way easy; best to drink these at home – and stay there.

Florida Orange Margaritas

Note: Make this 2 hours ahead to have it well chilled.

  • 1 quart freshly squeezed orange juice (about 12 blood oranges or 8 large navel oranges)
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice (about 12 limes)
  • 1 cup 4-Orange Vodka
  • 1/2 cup Cointreau or Grand Marnier
  • 3 1/2 cups good tequila
  • For glass rims: Grain sea salt and orange peels
  • 4 thinly sliced blood oranges for garnish
  • Cracked ice chunks

In a 2-quart pitcher, combine orange juice, lime juice, vodka, Cointreau and tequila. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

Rim the glasses with salt: Pour salt onto a plate. Moisten the outer rim of stemmed glasses with orange peel, then dip glass rims into salt.

Just before serving, add ice to the pitcher and stir well; strain into the prepared glasses. Garnish each glass rim with a blood orange slice. Serve at once; keep remainder of strained Margaritas refrigerated.

Makes 1 pitcherful; about 6 large Margaritas or 12 normal drinks.

Key lime Margaritas

  • 3/4 cup Cointreau or Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 cup tequila (preferably barrel aged)
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed Key lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons bar sugar (superfine; dissolves quickly)
  • Cracked ice
  • For rimming glass: wedge of key lime and grain sea salt or Kosher salt

Stir together Cointreau, tequila, lime juice and sugar in a small pitcher. (Can be chilled overnight at this point if made ahead.) Before serving, add a scoop of cracked ice and stir well. Rim tequila or other stemmed glasses by running lime wedge around each rim to moisten, and dipping in granulated salt set out in a plate. Strain chilled Margaritas into the prepared glasses.

Makes 4 Margaritas.

Mango Margaritas

The trick to these is the papaya nectar in them.

  • 2 or 3 large Florida mangoes (1-1/4 pounds), peeled, pitted
  • Simple sugar (1 cup water boiled with 1/2 cup sugar)
  • cracked ice
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup papaya nectar
  • For rimming glass: grain salt and lime wedge

In a blender, mix the mango chunks with simple sugar; blend till smooth.

In a shaker, add remaining ingredients except salt for rim of glass. Shake well till chilled. Rim stemmed glasses by rubbing with lime wedge and dipping into salt spread on a plate. Strain into 4 prepared glasses.

Makes 4 servings.

Tags: Sips: Drinkables

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