What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word: margarita? After tequila, sunshine, and tacos, it’s probably Jimmy Buffett’s 1977 hit, “Margaritaville” and his “lost shaker of salt.” Jimmy’s sister, Lucy (Lulu’s restaurants), admits that the Parrothead classic came as something of surprise to the Buffett clan, although the sentiment was genuine.
Whether frozen or on the rocks, says Lucy, “The Buffetts just love to drink them [margaritas].” The key to their house recipe: better ingredients such as Patron tequila, Cointreau (or Grand Marnier), and fresh pressed lime.
“Using high quality ingredients makes all the difference,” says Buffett. “I only like to cook and serve drinks that are fresh. Not only does it make it taste better, it allows you to control the amount of sugar—something you just can’t do with mixes.”
RELATED: 12 Mouthwatering Margarita Recipes
To celebrate National Margarita Day, we reached out to our favorite drink (and gumbo!) authority. Luckily, she was more than happy to share her insight into that beloved sweet-sour cocktail. Above, Lucy demonstrates how to make a virgin lime-mango iteration, and a cucumber margarita from her upcoming cookbook, Gumbo Love: Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life, available on May 9. (You can find the recipe below.)
Lucy Buffett's Cucumber Margarita
Makes 1 cocktail
This is one of the most refreshing drinks we have ever concocted. Don’t be afraid to substitute other ingredients for the cucumber and create your own custom margarita.
Kosher salt, for rimming the glass (optional)
1 cucumber, cut into thick slices
1 lime, cut into wedges
Splash of simple syrup (see below)
1½ ounces high-quality blanco or silver tequila
2 ounces sour mix
1. Salt the rim of the glass, if desired.
2. Combine 4 cucumber slices, 2 lime wedges, and the simple syrup in a metal cocktail shaker.
3. Muddle gently, avoiding the lime rinds, which can add a bitter taste.
4. Add a small scoop of ice to the shaker. Add the tequila and sour mix. Pour back and forth between the shaker and a large mixing glass a few times.
5. Pour the margarita into the salted (if using) serving glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, pour the syrup into a storage container. It will keep, refrigerated, for a long time.
NOTE: You can make larger quantities—simply use equal parts water and sugar.
Lucy’s suggested food pairing: shrimp quesadillas or crab melt nachos.
Excerpted from the book GUMBO LOVE by Lucy Buffett. Copyright 2017 by Lucy Buffett. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.