Nothing says summer cocktails like…
Everyone has a different answer to that question. Some say gin and tonic. Some say Sangria (yes, there is often brandy in good sangria so it’s a cocktail of sorts). Others say Long Island iced tea. Still others say Pina Colada. Weird people like me say, “limes.”
Bear with me.
The simple, ubiquitous lime. The littlest citrus fruit. Often forgotten, compared to grapefruit, a common breakfast staple.
Lemons are found everywhere and year-round in salad dressing, with fish and seafood dishes and then there’s lemonade. Heck you can even clean things with lemons. But what about poor little limes?
Without limes and lime juice we wouldn’t have three of the most classic of all classic cocktails: the Margarita, the Gimlet and the Daiquiri.
Some people might be scratching their heads on the last one. Some will be thinking, “I thought that was a sweet tropical fruity rum drink?” Ummm no. The 1980s wrecked the Daiquiri and created the FrankenDaiquiri.
Each cocktail is made with a different base alcohol: tequila, gin and rum. Each one is unique and different tasting—ideally highlighting the quality booze you’ve chosen. All three are made with freshly squeezed lime juice, the perfect partner when it comes to delicious, simple summer cocktails. Limes are zesty, light and refreshing all at once.
Since these are simple, three ingredient cocktails and there is no place for the booze to hide, top shelf liquor is required. Get good 100% agave tequila, pay a little more for highly rated stuff. Same with the gin (some experts like Plymouth or Hendricks). As for the rum, this is where even a novice will notice a difference. White rums can be all over the map, some are better used as paint remover. A good Daiquiri rum is better than Mojito rum, since you have all that sugar and mint in a Mojito to cover up lesser quality alcohol. Convention is to use a white rum, but some say a high-end amber rum works well. I have yet to be convinced. El Dorado makes excellent aged amber and dark rums, and they also make a fantastic three year old white rum, but there are many others.
Recipes for these cocktails vary all three ingredients to an extent. There is some room to play around for taste, but keep in mind these were meant as booze forward cocktails, not syrupy sweet, hide the taste, drinks. My suggestion: use the same recipe for all of them, then modify to taste from there. And if you play with the lime juice and simple syrup, try leaving the quantity of alcohol alone.
- 2 oz. tequila blanco/light rum/gin
- .75 oz. lime juice
- .75 oz. simple syrup
For those of you paying attention, you will note there is no orange booze (Triple Sec, Cointreau) in my Margarita. There is also no salt. It’s better without, in my humble opinion.
Put all the ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake until cold and serve it a chilled coupe if you have it. If not, any smaller glass will do.
Cheers to the humble lime, ruler of the citrus cocktail world!
Randall had the misfortune of being a bartender in the late 1980s, widely considered Hell in the annals of cocktail history—remember the fuzzy navel, the tequila sunrise and various coconut and blue curacao drinks? Resistance might have been futile against the Borg, but there was no way he was giving in, he kept drinking his Manhattans, Rob Roys and Old Fashioneds, despite almost never serving one at the bar.