With summer in full swing, you’d be wise to take a little R&R in the form of long beach days and casual afternoons by the pool. A day by the water with friends isn’t the same without a few beverages to sip on in-between canon balls and catching waves. A case of cheap beer or store-bought mixed drinks might be a go-to, but it’s time to up your game and become a backyard mixologist, because everybody needs a badass title.
If there’s one beverage begging to be drank during the summer months, it’s a margarita. The thought of pre-made mixes shaken with the tequila that’s one notch above the bottom shelf may, at first, sound appealing — cheap and quick for sure, but it’s also boring. That’s not the impression to make, even amongst friends. How should it be made? We talked to a local expert who knows a thing or two about how to make a margarita worth everyone’s time.
Roland Anderson is the assistant general manager of Flying Iguana in Neptune Beach. He’s been behind the bars “a long time” and started as a bar-back before he could even legally drink. He believes people are intimidated by a great margarita and settle for safe ingredients.
He stresses the importance of fresh fruit, 100 percent blue agave tequila and agave syrup. If the tequila isn’t fully blue agave, it’s not “real tequila,” Anderson said. Rather, it’s mixed with added colors, caramel flavors and refined sugars. This brings the price down, but also the quality. The same can be said with pre-made mixes found on grocery store shelves. By using fresh fruit and an agave sweetener, the drink has depth and character.
This doesn’t mean a great margarita demands a $200 bottle of tequila kept in a liquor store case either. Anderson said there are plenty of mix-worthy bottles in the $20 to $30 price range.
First, he squeezes the juice from half a lemon and half a lime to give it a fresh citrus taste. Then, he adds a half ounce of agave, a half ounce of agavero (a tequila liqueur found in most liquor stores) and a half ounce of triple sec — such as Cointreau. Finally, add one-and-a-half ounces of tequila and shake.
A shaken margarita served on the rocks limits the watering-down caused by blending, Anderson advises. He prefers salt on his rim, but said that’s a personal preference. Try serving with a half-salted, half-unsalted rim to let the friend choose.
Not a liquor drinker? Impress the squad by getting crafty with craft beer. Jack Twachtman, owner of Brew Five Points, discussed with us a beer cocktail for people looking to try something different — something he was looking to do at Brew with the Moscow Bul. The cocktail is based on a Cuban drink that features a light ale with ginger beer and the popular Moscow Mule.
The first step to a Moscow Bul is a can of Kolsch beer. What is a Kolsch? Well it’s a light, pale German ale that pairs perfectly with summer afternoons. Jacksonville’s own Jon Boat, by Intuition Ale Works, is an easy-to-find Kolsch that supports the local brewery scene. Grab a six-pack and get mixing.
Lightly stir a can of Jon Boat with three ounces of fresh-squeezed lime juice, a can of ginger beer and about one ounce of simple syrup. This recipe makes enough for two servings, and we’d encourage pouring it into copper mugs, if available, for some added class.
Change the game this summer and bring something unique to the next hangout. Good friends demand good drinks.