When dining at Topolobampo in Chicago, one of his favorite restaurants, President Barack Obama generally orders a Margarita Clásica. According to Topolobampo proprietor and Mexican food maestro Rick Bayless: "This is my favorite margarita—a strong, tangy, bright-flavored wonder that’s been shaken to iciness. It’s best, I think, served in old-fashioned 4-ounce martini glasses. Those, however, are difficult to find in this bigger-is-better world. So I wrote this version for the 6-ounce glass that’s common now. Just remember: they’re strong." Here’s the recipe.
- 1 cup Tequila, preferably a young silver or reposado 100% agave tequila—look for widely distributed ones like El Tesoro, Cuervo Tradicional, and Herradura, or search out the distinctive small production tequilas like Chamucos or Suave Patria (see note below)
- ½ cup Cointreau or other orange liqueur (see note below)
- A cup fresh lime juice, plus a little extra for moistening the rim of the glasses
- A little sugar if necessary
- About a cup coarse (Kosher) salt for crusting the rim of the glasses
- About 3 cups medium ice cubes
In a small pitcher, combine the tequila, orange liqueur and lime. Taste and decide if you think the mixture needs to be a little sweeter or a little tangier (keep in mind that it will taste a little tangier once it’s been shaken). Add a bit more lime or a touch of sugar, if necessary.
Spread out the salt onto a small plate. Moisten the rim of four 6-ounce martini glasses with a little lime juice (if you have a cut lime, even an already-squeezed one, moisten the rims by running it around them). One by one, turn the glasses over and dip them lightly in the salt, creating a thin, even crust all around the rim.
Pour half of the margarita mixture into a cocktail shaker, add half of the ice cubes. Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds (this is important to achieve the perfect strength—some of the ice needs to melt into the margarita—and the right degree of frostiness). Strain into the prepared glasses, then repeat with the remaining margarita mixture. Relax and enjoy.