Monday, February 11, 2013

Tequila Bargain!

No more Zapopan at Trader Joe. See Updates below.

To make a great Margarita you need great tequila, and most of the widely-available affordable tequilas (including name brands) are dreadful mixtos. (See Types of Tequila) Fortunately there is a very good tequila that won't bust your budget: Zapopan, sold by Trader Joe's for only $10 per liter, both Blanco (lighter) and Reposado (richer and smoother). It's generally better than anything else under $20, and stands up well to anything else under $30.

Classic Margarita
  • 3 oz tequila
    100% agave, reposado preferred
  • 1 oz triple sec*
    good quality, orange curaçao also works well
  • 1 oz lime juice**
    unsweetened, preferably fresh, Mexican/Key lime for extra flavor
Shake with cracked ice, and serve in rocks glass, over cracked ice, without salt.
For more sweetness, add more triple sec (or agave nectar).
Great accompaniment to guacamole!

Drillaud Triple Sec
Update (12/2015)
: The price of Zapopan has gone up to $12 per liter, but that's still a great bargain!

Update (8/2017): Alas, Trader Joe's no longer carries Zapopan, and the replacement tequila doesn't measure up, but Zapopan can still be found at Bitters+BottlesThe price is higher, but it's still a great bargain. Only Blanco is stocked, but Reposado can be ordered.

Update (5/2020): In California, try Mission Wine & Spirits (in Pasadena), which ships to California addresses: $19.95 for 1L (still a bargain).

Update (6/2021): Mission Wine & Spirits price has gone up so much (now $25.99 for 1L) that I recommend the alternatives below.

Tequila alternatives (easy to find)
  1. Olmeca Altos Reposado
  2. Lunazul Reposado (bargain)
  3. El Jimador Reposado
  4. Kirkland Signature Reposado (not the Silver)
* Triple Sec recommendations:
  1. Drillaud (excellent)
  2. Mr Stacks 60 Proof (bargain)
  3. Hiram Walker 60 (not the lower proof)
  4. Patrón Citrónge and Cointreau are good but overpriced
** Key (Mexican) Lime Juice:
  1. Florida Key West 100% Authentic Key Lime Juice
  2. Nellie and Joe's 100% Key Lime Juice (not the similar Key West Lime Juice)

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