In honor of today, National Margarita Day, I put a fun, easy twist on another old classic. I am a fan of simple traditional margaritas—I am talking about margaritas with just four ingredients: good tequila (100% agave, please!), fresh lime juice, and maybe a splash of Cointreau and simple syrup mixed together with a whole cube of ice. Forget the giant coupe glasses filled with crushed ice or slush, and always be sure to include the salted rim.
So, my first goal for today’s margarita was to Keep. It. Simple. There is also something so fun and flirty about tequila—it’s a spirit with a bit of a wild side. I decided to play up these stereotypes by forgoing the full-sized drink and downsizing the traditional margarita into a sexy little shooter (it sounds pretentious, I know, but I struggle using the more colloquial “shot” on my cocktail blog). The real magic of this drink, however, is the whole cumin and salt rim. When you bite into the whole cumin, the spice releases a nutty, earthy taste, which perfectly tames the light fiery burn of the tequila and sourness of the lime, making it a perfect chaser. It’s nothing like the tequila shots from your college days!
In the shooter itself, I only used three ingredients: tequila, fresh lime juice, and Cointreau. Tequila provides the body of the shooter as I wanted to make sure the shot maintained its boozy kick. As such, the proportion of tequila is kept quite high, measuring 1.5 oz.
In the shooter, I used Casa Noble Tequila Crystal. It’s a 100% agave tequila blanco that is remarkably smooth—so much so that I almost thought twice about putting it in a shooter! I enjoyed sipping this spirit so much that I featured it in two more cocktails, which I’ll be posting later this week!
The next ingredient is lime. I am adamant about this—always, always, ALWAYS use fresh citrus in your cocktails. There is simply no substitute for fresh lime or lemon. Using anything but the real deal is going to completely change the taste, texture, and aroma of your drinks.
In the Cumin-salted Margarita Shooter, I wanted to mimic the unabashed tart, sourness of biting into a lime wedge. I used ¾ oz of juice to maintain the assertiveness of the lime flavor. I also decided to forgo any simple syrup which would have a.) diluted the drink and b.) tamed the jolt of tartness—I wanted this shooter to make your lips pucker!
Finally, I added just a dash of Cointreau—this is the only sweetness added to the shooter. I prefer to keep the orange flavor to a minimum, so I added only a slight dash, probably 1/2 a barspoon—feel free to add more/forgo it based on your preference.
As this shooter was so simple in its construction, I knew I needed a standout garnish. I had stumbled across cumin-salted rims in the past, and I thought using whole cumin seeds rather than a powder would be a fun twist. Cumin is a key spice in Mexican cooking, so I knew it would complement the flavors of the tequila and lime quite well. The seeds act as pockets of flavor that I found enjoyable to crunch into. In terms of flavor, the cumin imparts a lingering earthy, nuttiness. The cumin serves as the fourth and final layer of the drink’s flavor profile, grounding the initial flavors of saltiness, the spiciness of the tequila, and tart lime.
Cumin-Salted Margarita Shooter
-1.5 oz tequila blanco (100% agave)
-3/4 oz lime juice
-splash of Cointreau, approx. 1/2 barspoon
For the salt rim:
–approx. 1 tablespoon salt
-approx. 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
-1 lime slice
To make the cumin-salted shooter glasses, mix together the salt and whole cumin seeds on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Take the lime slice, and lightly trace the rim of the glass with the lime. The goal is to line only the outside of the glass rim with lime juice, while keeping the inside clean. This prevents salt/cumin seeds from falling into the drink. Next, gently roll the rim of the glass in the salt/cumin seed mixture, so that the glass rim is thoroughly coated. Set aside.
Combine the first three ingredients into a mixing glass. Stir well with ice, and strain into the shooter glass.