The poor margarita. Once a near-perfect drink, in the family of cocktails known as "the sour" (not, you'll note, "the sweet"), blessed with a balance of natural sweetness, mouth puckering sour, and agave flavors, the margarita has become almost a joke in the hands of bartenders and regular folk across the land (and I suspect across other lands as well).
You see, there was a time when a margarita would be enjoyed in a coupe, or cocktail glass (stemware which is now generally referred to as a "martini glass"), 3, maybe 5 ounces at a time. But I'm guessing most people, when thinking "margarita," picture a huge pint glass of a neon green, overly-sweet, vaguely tequila-y slushie, more fitting for a frat party or Bourbon street than for a restaurant or serious contemplation. And that's the problem: people don't know any better. We've been brain-washed!
I've already noted here on this blog that a margarita's success is based almost solely on the use of quality ingredients, used in a proportion which you find appealing. Those ingredients include:
- 100% blue agave tequila (I prefer the clean, pure agave flavor of blanco, which is not aged in oak, rather than reposado or anejo, which are aged)
- Fresh lime juice (Not Rose's lime juice. Not "sour mix". Not something out of a gun.)
- Good quality triple sec (Cointreau is the gold standard. Don't argue with me; it just is).
- Maybe a pinch of salt
I've also documented how difficult it is to get a proper margarita at most restaurants and bars. The vast majority of restaurants and bars, in fact, will not even have fresh lime juice on hand, so they don't have 1 of the 3 required ingredients. That's pitiful. On top of a lack of the proper ingredients, bartenders simply do not know what they are doing. While the creation of cocktails is an art and a passion for a few, for the majority of bartenders, it's just a job...a job which they'd prefer to not be doing.
The reality is that if you order a margarita at a bar, without providing any additional direction, you are going to get a horrible drink, with just about no exceptions.
And "horrible drink" brings me to Skinnygirl Margarita. Brought to you by Bethenny Frankel.
Maybe Ms. Frankel was on to something with this pre-made cocktail, without even realizing it. Creating a margarita that's not sickly-sweet is, after all, a noble endeavor. And yes, those horribly sweet margaritas being produced in bars and homes likely pack a wallop of calories. The Skinnygirl solution to the calorie issue includes removing the sweet crap from the cocktail, and putting the remainder in this bottle of greenish liquid. On paper, it sounds OK:
- 100 calories per 4 ounces (125 calories per 5 ounces)
- 100% blue agave tequila
- "all natural"
Left: proper margarita. Right: Skinnygirl margarita.
Where is goes right is that it's not overly sweet, and the color is dead-on, no doubt thanks to the caramel color added to the drink. Where it goes wrong is the taste. The t:e panel of esteemed tequila tasters agreed unanomyously that Skinnygirl tastes medicinal and unpleasant. With no exaggeration, I spit the first sip into the sink. Another taster winced and practically cried during a side-by-side blind tasting including Skinnygirl and a proper margarita made with Hornitos, fresh lime juice, and Cointreau. And those were not tears of joy.
Skinnygirl was the clear loser, and beyond that, was near undrinkable. To my mind, the unpleasantness comes from the lime flavoring, whatever that may be. One thing for sure: it's not fresh lime juice.
Even if you do like the taste of this stuff, and you shouldn't, maybe you're thinking that there is a magical calorie savings to consider, which might make you reach for the bottle of Skinnygirl.
But how do they pull off this magical 125 calories per 5 ounces trick you ask? My guess is that they are simply watering down the simple cocktail on which it is based.
Skinnygirl comes in at about 25 proof. A proper margarita, assuming a ratio of 3 ounces of tequila (80 proof/210 calories), 1 ounce of Cointreau (80 proof/95 calories), and 1 ounce of lime juice (0 proof/8 calories) will produce a drink somewhere around 65 proof (a touch less if you account for dilution from ice, but the Skinnygirl will be diluted as well). It will also create a cocktail that is about 315 calories.
Let's now take this proper 65 proof drink and water it down to 25 proof, by dividing by 2.5 (65/25). That gives us an equivalent drink of 25 proof, and, 126 calories (315/2.5). 126 calories for 5 ounces: the same as Skinnygirl. I suspect this drink is nothing more than watered down tequila, triple sec, and lime flavoring.
The points we took away from this taste test are as follows:
- Skinnygirl Margarita tastes medicinal.
- There is no actual "fresh" lime juice it in (a must for any proper margarita).
- The calorie savings over a proper margarita is non-existent.
- The only way to keep your girlish figure is to drink proper margaritas.
We did this, for you.