Book Review: The Great Margarita Book

May 6, 2011

Yesterday, for Cinco de Mayo, I talked about tequila. A year ago, I mentioned making a guava margarita with jalapeno infused tequila. The other day, I was looking at my cookbooks and realized I had never really looked at The Great Margarita Book that I had. My copy is a second edition written by Al Lucero with John Harrisson and forward by Robert Redford in 2004.

Redford starts out the book saying that the margarita has taken over as the all American cocktail, though he ponders over what makes a great margarita. What he does say is that he takes people to Maria’s in Santa Fe because they have good food and the best margaritas. The connection is that the fifth and current owners of Maria’s is author Lucero, and he talks about the place in his introduction.

Lucero says his margaritas are the best because he uses real tequila, real triple sec, and real lemon or lime juice. He goes on to explain how tequila is processed and what makes for a good tequila. The chapters are divided into:

  1. Tequila: The Soul of a Real Margarita
  2. Other Essentials for a Great Margarita
  3. The Noble Origins of the Margarita
  4. Recipes for Real Margaritas
  5. More Great Tequila Drinks
  6. Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen: Food to Serve with Margaritas

Most of the recipes are different variations on the classic margarita. Each page has a recipe and then a featured tequila at the bottom with a Margarita Tip, Tequila Tidbit, or both. For example, ice in cubes will cause the corners to “break off  during the shaking and add the perfect amount of dilution for the drink. Round ice cubes are not the best.”

The biggest downside to this book is actually its shape. It is a tall and narrow book, which makes it a little bit difficult to handle. I also find all those recipes to be about the same, and only a small handful are not the classic margarita recipes. However, I think every year around Cinco de Mayo, I’ll be pulling out this book to do some more research into tequila and margaritas.


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