Thursday, July 29, 2010

When Life Gives You Limes Make Margaritas

Sorry that it's taken me so long to get another post up, but my bands are starting to gig and I've been extremely busy with practices and recording sessions. Here is the next Lit Monthly article. As it's summer time and the fins are up (Buffett reference) I thought that Margaritas were in order so here we go...

When The World Gives You Limes, Make Margaritas!
By Greg Holman

Being a Mexican border state, Texas has long embraced the cultural and culinary stylings of our neighbor to the south. The words Tex-Mex, nacho, taco, and margarita come to mind, and Dallas has had a particularly long-standing relationship with the margarita. In fact, one of the claims to the origin of the heavenly drink hails from Dallas socialite Margarita Sames, back in 1948. The Dallas Margarita Society has also been hosting the Dallas Margarita Ball, the largest attended, annual, invitation-only gala in Texas (benefitting children’s charities), for more than 30 years. Consequently, there is a virtual cornucopia of marg offerings to be had in the Metroplex, often making it difficult to locate a stellar rita in a world full of lime Slurpees.

The origins of this classic drink, widely considered to be based on the 1930’s cocktail, the Sidecar, which used brandy in place of tequila and powdered sugar instead of salt, are as elusive as that of the Martini. There are no less than 16 claims to its creation, the earliest of which occurred in 1934, in Matamores, by an unnamed bartender at the Los Dos Republicas restaurant. Other stories say that it was named after Rita Hayworth, whose given name was Margarita. Another states that it was created in Galveston, Texas by Santos Cruz, for singer Peggy Lee. While I lean towards the earliest claims, the true origin is anyone’s guess.

Let’s talk about the perfect margarita for a minute. A truly exceptional margarita starts with top-notch ingredients and has just the right balance of sweet and sour. The first sip should grab you by the tongue and make you say “WOW!” It should be complex and interesting, with a nice body, and it should leave you wanting more, but let’s break this king of drinks down to it’s basic ingredients. A margarita typically consists of lime juice, an orange-flavored liqueur, and tequila, served frozen or on the rocks, in a salt-rimmed, wide-mouthed, stemmed glass.

Limes: The original recipes called for Mexican limes, which turn a pale yellow when ripe and tend to be a bit sweeter than their sour counterparts encountered here in the States. A bit of simple syrup or, even better, a little agave nectar can balance this out nicely.

Orange Liqueur: In order of prestige – Grand Marnier, Gran Torres, Cointreau, Citronge, triple sec, or curacao.


Tequila: A spirit made from Blue Agave, in the Mexican state of Jalisco and in and around the city of Tequila, about 40 miles Northwest of Gudalajara. Originally produced in the 16th century.

There are three basic types of tequila:

Blanco – unaged, bottled and stored directly after distilling.

Reposado – aged at least two months, but less than a year, in oak barrels.

Anejo – aged a minimum of one year, but less than three, in oak barrels.

The longer the tequila ages, the smokier and more mellow the flavor gets, and unfortunately the higher the cost becomes. In 2006 and Extra Anejo category was added for tequilas that are aged for more than three years.

Whether you prefer your margaritas on the rocks or frozen, there is a marg out there to please even the most critical palate in this great city of ours. Here are a few of my favorites…

On The Rocks:

Agave Azul – 1114 S. Elm St., Carrollton, TX 75006 Phone: (972) 242-4466

With over 100 tequilas to choose from, decisions can be difficult. They use agave nectar here!

Iron Cactus - 1520 Main St., Dallas, TX 75201 Phone: (214) 749-4766
A great selection of top-shelf ritas to choose from, at a variety of prices. The Chipotle Chicken Poppers are worth the trip themselves.

Javier’s – 4912 Cole Ave., Dallas, TX 75205 Phone: (214) 521-4211
They’ve been making one of the best hand-made top-shelf margaritas in the country here for over 30 years, and they still do.

La Duni – 4620 McKinney Ave., Dallas, TX 75205 Phone: (214) 520-7300
Brunch is outstanding and the hand-made margaritas are of the highest caliber. Famous for their deserts.

Trece – 4513 Travis St., Dallas, TX 75205 Phone: (214) 780-1900
Try one of the top-shelf offerings from the huge selection of tequilas. Great “made-at-your-table” guacamole.



11 locations now, but don’t let the scare you; they still serve great drinks and food. And with $3.00 frozen or rocks ritas, sangria, and mojitos, all day long, you just can’t go wrong! I frequent the original Oak Cliff location.

Mariano’s – 6300 Skillman St., Dallas, TX 75231 Phone: (214) 691-3888

Supposedly, they made the very first frozen margarita ever, right here in 1971. Ya gotta try the original!

Monica’s Aca Y Alla - 2914 Main St., Dallas, TX 75226 Phone: (469) 645-2517

Holy guacamole Batman! At brunch, on both Saturdays and Sundays, you can have up to three frozen or rocks margs or mimosas for $1.00 each.

Ojeda’s – 4617 Maple Ave., Dallas, TX 75219 Phone: (214) 528-8383

The meltdowns here will put you under the table. That’s why you can only have one if you’re not eating, so order some nachos and have three!

Taco Diner – 3699 McKinney Ave., Dallas, TX 75204 Phone: (214) 521-3669

The Mambo Taxi rules the roost here. Very strong, but made with cheap tequila. Two’ll do ya!

Tejano’s – 110 West Davis St., Dallas, TX 75208 Phone: (214) 943-8610

Built inside a cool old movie theatre in Oak Cliff, they offer fluorescent green margs for .99 cents during happy hour!

With the sweltering heat of the Texas summer upon us, go find that lost shaker of salt and take a trip to Margaritaville, or one of the multitude of Dallas area restaurants offering up that frozen concoction that helps us hang on. Fins up!