Skinny Girl Margarita
by Darcy O'Neil on August 2010
The Margarita is most likely the number one requested summer cocktail. The problem is that very few people actually enjoy a genuine Margarita. Early in its history it was a simple drink--related to the Daisy class of alcoholic drinks--which consisted of tequila, triple sec, lime and salt. Sadly, over the last 30 years, this poor cocktail has been maimed and beaten into a drink that tastes similar to a 7-Eleven Lime Blast Slurpee, through no fault of its own. The fact is the Margarita is a simple drink, with a simple recipe. The problems happen when people teach from a bad foundation. The Skinny Girl Margarita recipe is a perfect example.
Many in the cocktail blogging community have witnessed the video train wrecks highlighted by Mr. Morganthaler. He has a fondness for showing cocktails made with Booger and Co-Chaka. Cringe worthy, yes, but entertaining.
There are other cocktail making videos out in wild that are equally uninformative, but are presented in a moderately more pleasant package.
First, let us see the video evidence. (Please note that the video was taken down shortly after I published this post.)
Bethenny Frankle's Skinny Girl Margarita
I never have a problem with someone making their own drinks in whatever way they like, but I do worry when people try to teach others their iffy methods. I'm sure Bethenny is a great person, but we can all learn a few things and accept some constructive criticism, can't we?
Let's start off with the good. I do like the salt / sugar mixture idea, it might appeal to those who don't like a mouth full of table salt. Really, plain old iodized table salt isn't the best option for a Margarita anyway. I'll talk more on that in my next post.
So much for the good, now lets talk about the bad from the Skinny Girl Margarita recipe.
Sin #1: Scooping ice with your hands is bad, m'kay.
Sin #2: Any spirit can give you a hangover, it's the alcohol, not the colour, that's the problem. The majority of the hangover is caused by the alcohol metabolite: acetaldehyde. Alcohol is a poison, obviously a fun one, but a poison none-the-less. Clear alcohol does cause hangovers. If people get the dumb idea that clear liquor doesn't cause hangovers, or less severe ones, they'll drink in excess. Don't spread misinformation.
Sin #3: Don't try the "free pour" count method unless you do it regularly (i.e you're a bartender or one of those crazy cocktail bloggers), use a jigger or measure. Professional bartenders "free pour" accurately because they are making hundreds of drinks nightly. It works best if you use a pour spout, preferably the standard 285-50 variety. The general populous shouldn't be in that much of a rush, so use a jigger, which will make things taste better and help to avoid over-serving. In all the Skinny Girl cocktail video's, the count is different each time, which means it's not accurate.
Sin #4: A four count is actually 1oz, not 4oz. Don't put 4oz of tequila into a Margarita. There are only a few people, on the planet, qualified to do that, Jeff "Beachbum" Berry being one of them.
Sin #5: Making fresh lime juice is easy: Buy a hand held citrus press. They are cheap, convenient and hygienic (see Sin #1 and #6). You also don't need to roll or microwave your limes. The best part of a press is you get all the juice, plus some of the oils from the lime peel, which makes the Margarita beautifully aromatic and very tasty. Don't be lazy.
Sin #6: Don't squeeze the lime juice through your fingers. This might be fine in a kitchen, but not when making drinks in front of people. Where exactly have those hands been? See Sin #5.
Sin #6a: Is Skinny Girl reaming that lime with a sharp knife? See Sin #5 and avoid the never popular Bloody Margarita. If you are poverty stricken, use a spoon or fork to ream.
Sin #7: Avoid using commercial sour mix or lemonade. Really, get a citrus press and stick with the fresh lime juice, and if need be, a bit of sugar. People will really appreciate it, give you lots of compliments and stare in awe at your new found super-power.
Sin #8: Cocktails are more like baking and work best with actual recipe measurements. I know people whose idea of a splash will put a 200 pound man into an alcohol induced comma. Good cocktails are made with good recipes, not freestyle.
Sin #9: Skip the microplane grater, buy a citrus press.
Sin #10: Blenders went out of style two decades ago, along with big hair, leg warmers, hatch back Mustangs, spandex and glam rockers. If you want that thin layer of ice crystals floating on top of your Margarita, use a cocktail shaker and you'll get the real thing.
Sin #11: Salt is an important component of the Margarita, period. I'll explain this in my follow-up post, but it has a lot to do with taste science. Most good bartenders will salt only half the rim or ensure that the salt isn't an inch thick. The salt rim should be lightly salted, otherwise peoples ankles may swell. Really, you don't need to lick the whole salt rim, and you can use a lime wedge to squeegee the salt from part of the rim.
Like I said before, there is nothing wrong with making a drink the way you like it, that's perfectly fine. But, when you are trying to teach people, try to do some research, please. Misinformed teachers only lead to another generation of bad cocktails, like the SkinnyGirl Margarita.
Now, the Skinny Girl Margarita may not represent major competition to the growing community of professional bartenders, and cocktail enthusiasts, that create genuinely enjoyable drinks. However, when Playboy trains a Playmate, to be a mixologist, we don't stand a chance. Or do we....
Cardinal Sin: Everyone, stop using their hands as ice scoops. Yes, I realize that if I was so blessed to have a Playboy Playmate making my drink, with hand scooped ice, I'd "overlook it", actually I doubt I'd even notice what her hands were doing. What I don't want is a bartender named Bubba, or Angus, or Tony, or Jamie, or anyone else, girl or boy, thinking this is OK, 'cause it's not.
Now that I've become a "critic" I'm compelled to step up to the plate and shed that title. In my next post I'll give some solid reasoning on why the Margarita is such a popular cocktail recipe. I'll even put it into scientific terms, and explain why the salt is a key component, even though Skinny Girl and the Playboy Playmate don't partake. Then I'll shake one up, and get the resident "super-taster" to give it a taste. Don't worry, after nine years with my wife, she's more than happy to give me her honest opinion.
Next Post: The Classic Margarita Recipe