In a new drink-themed blog series, Happy Hour, Arkansas native Ben Franks will share his recipes and expertise. Ben tends the bar at Petit & Keet in Little Rock, but he learned the tricks of the trade all over the country. Up first is a classic margarita that can be updated with a unique twist.

Blending the Borderlines: A Margarita with a Southern Top

Summertime, in my opinion, is the best time to dive into margaritas. It is too hot here in Arkansas to drink brown liquors. Bourbon + sweat = NOPE.  During my time in California I stumbled on one of my favorite margarita recipes. Making a classic margarita is not difficult. Please stay away from any bottle that says “Sweet and Sour Mix.” Those are full of weird chemicals and preservatives that are not necessary for a tasty cocktail and ultimately make the heat unbearable. (And by heat I mean the hangover it will give you the next day.)

Classic Margarita – All you need!

2 oz of premium blanco or reposado tequila

1 oz of fresh lime juice

1 oz of Cointreau or dry curacao

½ of agave simple syrup

A fun twist on this classic is to take some the wine you have lying in your fridge – if that’s something that actually happens to you – and give it a float to top it off. I suggest using an Argentinian Malbec to keep all the flavors south of the border and to celebrate the beauty of the rise of South American wines.

Shake your classic margarita, then carefully pour the wine into a spoon and let it gently spill over and settle on the top. The visual inspires ideas of a late evening summer sky and the wine provides a depth of flavor that takes the cocktail to another level.

Certain tequila brands have renamed this cocktail over the years. I learned it as the “Puesta de Sol” which is Spanish for sunset. After about three of these that title gets harder to say, so I simply call it the Sunset Margarita. Try it out!


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