Just under a year ago, I left my sunny California home for the love and adventure of the East Coast- a new coast, country, and city. Halifax is slowly but surely becoming a home away from home. Even through all my comments about how ridiculously cold the winter is and how I miss the unrelenting sunshine (even though this was supposedly the mildest winter in years), and how I dream about my favorite restaurants (and the ganache-covered chocolate mousse cake that will make your toes curl), I am learning to love my new city. There are even a few things that I think I like even better than my old oceanside home: the library system that actually has new titles and an extensive non-fiction section for all my curiosities;Point Pleasant Park is just under a mile from my downtown apartment, built of evergreens and maples, right on the ocean, and filled with endless winding pathways ripe for running; and new food discoveries like Sushi Pizza topped with fresh salmon, spicy sauce, avocado, and dripping with sweet BBQ teriyaki. They say that home is where the heart (or stomach) is.
Sunshine is returning to Halifax after the cold, grey winter. All the trees are coming back to life and the residents are shedding their winter layers and coming out of their caves. And although this new warmer weather is brightening my day-to-day, there are things I’ve had in California that Halifax life just can’t compete with, starting with the Margarita.
There is something so comfortable about sitting on a creekside patio in the middle of the afternoon, sun beating down on your face, condensation dripping down your salted margarita glass. Making a good one isn’t hard- the basic recipe is all you need. It’s the quality of the ingredients that makes all the difference in a simple recipe. And for margaritas, a good sour mix is certainly one of them. This recipe is seriously easy- sour mix is just citrus juices mixed with sugar in the form of simple syrup. Fresh citrus makes all the difference here, so don’t go buying that pre-bottled lemon juice at the grocery store. So grab your favorite tequila, some fresh limes, kosher salt, and your sunglasses- here is the recipe for the fresh sour mix you need for all your summertime margaritas (and then some).
Fresh Sweet and Sour Mix
for Cocktail Love – makes about 5 cups
adapted from Bon Appetit magazine – 1995
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 8-10 lemons) *don’t use the bottled kind
juice from 3 limes
juice from 1 orange
Make the simple syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Juices: Meanwhile, squeeze your lemon, lime, and orange juices into a small bowl or graduated measuring cup. You should end up with about 2 cups. Make sure you strain this to remove any seeds and the pulp before adding in your simple syrup.
Once your syrup is luke warm, begin adding it slowly to your citrus juices. Start by adding a cup at a time, tasting it after each addition to tailor it to your own tastes. I tend to like mine a little on the sour side, so I end up not adding all the syrup in. It’s your palate, do what you like. If possible, chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
This is also perfect for whiskey sours, long island iced teas, or any cocktail calling for sweet and sour mix. Get creative!
*This will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Just keep it in a tightly closed container, preferably a bottle of some sort left over from previous adventures.
A Simple Margarita with Fresh Sour Mix
2 oz your favorite tequila
3/4 oz triple sec or Cointreau
1 1/2 – 2 oz fresh sour mix (to taste)
the juice of 2 lime wedges
1/2 oz Grand Marnier, for float
plenty of ice
kosher salt (optional)
Rim your glass with salt, if desired, and fill it with ice.
Combine tequila, triple sec, sour mix, lime juice, and lots of ice in a martini shaker. Shake for 15-20 seconds, and strain into your salt-rimmed glass.
Float Grand Marnier on top and garnish with a salt-covered lime wheel.
- I love fresh fruit in margaritas! You can muddle fresh raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, or even more tropical fruits like mango or pineapple into your glass before adding other ingredients. Shake and use a strainer to keep any fruit chunks/seeds from ending up in your glass.
- If you don’t have triple sec or Grand Marnier around, no worries. I highly recommend you use at least one of them, but you can easily squeeze an orange wedge into your drink to sweeten it and add a little orange flavor.
- For a blended version, use a little extra sour mix. Just pour your liquid ingredients into the blender first, then add ice only until the top of your liquids. Blend until smooth.