Margarita Drink Lab and Muffuletta Crackers

Summertime is the best time for Margaritas on the deck. Before mixing a full-sized cocktail to take outside on a glorious Friday evening, we decide to do a little homework in the drink lab.

We have a new Jose Cuervo Especial Silver tequila to put to the test. While Jose Cuervo is not usually at the top of our tequila list, my spouse can’t resist any packaging related to skulls or pirates. Score one for the marketing department. We’ll pit the Jose Cuervo against Patron Silver, Patron Anejo, and Don Julio Anejo.

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We’re using Patron Citronge for our triple sec. In different cocktail labs we experimented with replacing Cointreau with Citronge yielding disastrous results; however, Citronge finds its true home in the margarita. We have fresh-squeezed lime juice that we mix with a bit of simple syrup to satisfy our sweet tooth. The ratio is about 2 parts tequila, one part Citronge, and one part lime mixture.

Margaritas are most commonly made with silver tequila and we can “see” why. The silver samples of Jose and Patron have a clear appearance making them more appealing to the eye. Our two anejo samples are murky by contrast. Fresh lime is the dominant aroma of all four of our testers. Although differences in taste are easier to discern by drinking neat, each tequila brings a different flavor to our mini cocktails. Jose hints of sweetness where Patron Silver is a dry whisper. Both anejos bring a dimension of oak that adds to the complexity of the flavor profile, but Don Julio wins us over by adding nuances of vanilla and caramel.

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We pair our full-sized Don Julio Anejo margaritas with muffuletta crackers. The muffuletta is a popular New Orleans sandwich made with salami, mortadella, provolone cheese, and olive salad on a round sesame roll. For muffuletta crackers, layer the meat and cheese Oreo-style; a slice of provolone sandwiched between two slices of salami. Cut into quarters, place on crackers and top with a spoonful of muffuletta olive salad. Cocktail hour is good to go!

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