To many, summer is margarita season.
My favorite classic margarita is the "Topolo," at Rick Bayless' Topolobampo restaurant in Chicago. It is properly shaken and served in an appropriately small martini glass. I can't stand trying to drink out of stemmed glasses that are too big for my mouth. I end up drenched.
When the bartender is on point, I can see tiny ice crystals in the shimmering liquid. Catching a few icy sips before the crystals melt is my perfect prescription to unwind. The balance of ice cold and tart, freshly squeezed lime juice, sweet orange liqueur and robust tequila join to make a refreshing and relaxing libation.
Summer also is the time of year a frozen margarita takes the lead in the great shaken vs. frozen debate. Frozen margaritas have taken repeated hits from bartenders and cocktail connoisseurs. But I don't understand why. We have all kinds of grades of beer, wine, steaks, etc. Why not different margaritas for different occasions?
To me, the frozen versions live in their own separate (and fun!) category. Freeze some in pop molds to make an adult cocktail treat I dubbed "poptails." To embellish, top the pops off with a slice of lime that freezes at the base, just for the look.
They can be prepared up to a week in advance and are ready as soon as your guests arrive - or as soon as you get home from work.
My recipe is simple. I use freshly squeezed juice and sweeten it with powdered sugar. The powdery texture ensures the sugar dissolves, eliminating the need for simple syrup. Start with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and add more depending on how sweet or tart you like your drink.
Add a bit of salt to echo the salted rim of the cocktail glass and balance the sweetness. Orange triple sec and a top-shelf aged (anejo) tequila round out the flavor.
You can leave out the booze for the kids. Just use different shaped molds to avoid mixups.
Margarita Frozen Pops
•1/2 cup fresh lime juice, 5 to 6 large limes
•Juice of 1 large orange (about 1/2 cup)
•1/4 cup filtered water
•Pinch of fine-grain sea salt
•3/4 cup tequila
•1/4 cup triple sec
•2 to 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
In a pitcher, combine the lime juice, orange juice, water, salt, tequila and triple sec. Stir well. Add the powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time and taste to determine sweetness. Continue stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Fill the pop molds, stopping about 1/2 inch from the top. The liquid will expand to fill the sleeve as it freezes. Place Popsicle holders and freeze overnight.