Saturday, 30 July 2011

Margaritas, with the fresh sea air...

Salt rim, or no salt rim?
This debate has divided the Lowe household for quite some time.
For years, the most obvious answer has been the classic "half-salt rim" solution. Half salted, half not, and everybody's happy. Except they're not, are they? Everybody's half happy.
A new approach was clearly required. Enter the Cocktail Chemist.
Molecular Gastronomy has been quietly working it's way into the mainstream for some time now, spearheaded by names such as Heston Blumenthal. Molecular Mixology, it's far more excitingly named cousin, has been lagging somewhat behind, but is definitely starting to emerge.
So what's the answer then? Well, it's air. Obviously.

Using a solution of Lecitihin, Salt, and Mineral water, and mixing up a froth with a hand blender, it's possible to make a very stable salt flavoured froth which will maintain it's form for hours, and float rather attractively on the top of your drink (a margarita in this case). Simply skimming the foam with a slotted spoon allows the excess liquid to drain away, allowing the 'air' to be added to the drink (see pic,).
The result is a very light suggestion of salt with every sip - not large lumps which cling to your lips (worst case scenario for me), or eventually run out before your drink does (worst case scenario for Mrs Lowe.)

Of course, there is little or no point in going to this effort unless the margarita itself is top notch.
Using absolutely the best ingredients money can buy is essential. Scrimping and saving on cheap tequila is false economy, and will protest loudly from your glass, no matter how much you try to drown it out with a cacophony of sugar and lime.
For this occasion, I opted for El Tesoro Blanco. It's fragrant, floral, highland 100% agave flavours are perfect for creating the delicate nuances I required in the margarita. There was an article about the fantastic quality of El Tesoro in the Metro just last week (see pic). Having been voted 'Best Tequila In The World' seven years running, it gets a lot of praise from the trade press, but is woefully absent from far too many bars. Not mine, I hasten to add.

The tequila was sweetened using an organic agave syrup (a la Tommy's Margarita), and shaken hard over ice with freshly squeezed lime juice. Delicious.
Almost finished, but something was missing. I wanted a citrus edge to come through right at the end of the drink, so created a citrus caviar which could be sunk to the bottom of the cocktail. This is a basic caviar concoction of soduim alginate, sugar, water, and an orange liqueur. Once formed and strained, they are ready for adding to the freshly double-strained margarita (see pic).
Next, we add the salt air, and we're ready to serve. I was very pleased with the end result of this drink. More importantly, so was my long suffering drinks guinea-pig, Mrs Lowe. The best margarita she's ever had, she proclaimed. Praise if ever I heard it.
My great thanks to Myles Cunliffe for his inspiration on this, and all things molecular.

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