I have a confession. When I first got to Dallas, I wrote a post for National Tequila Day. I said Dallasites could celebrate this holiday with particular fervor because the frozen margarita was invented here. I said we could celebrate the day the margarita died in the city that killed it.
I was only poking fun -- mostly. I have a tendency to like simple things with few ingredients, so a margarita fashioned from some good tequila, a heavy squeeze of lime juice and some orange liquor over ice has always been my preference. It still is. But as I've trudged through many of Dallas' Tex-Mex restaurants, I've felt the need to at least sample a handful of the frozen varieties.
Maybe it's the brain freeze. Maybe it's the cheap buzz. Either way, I dig them on occasion, as long as they adhere to some basic principles:
Do use a high-quality frozen margarita machine: Some restaurants use blenders that produce a chunky and off-putting texture. High-end machines produce a tiny ice-crystal structure that's velvety smooth.
Do use good tequila: Just because the drink is a little trashy doesn't mean you have to drink absolute trash. I don't think anyone is serving up frozen Cabo Wabo drinks, but that doesn't mean you have to resort to bottom shelf booze.
Do make them strong: I'm almost positive there are 760 calories in the average frozen margarita. If I'm going to finish one of these bad boys, there better be a buzz in the bottom of my glass.
Do offer a topper: Ever have a shot of high-end booze poured on top of your frozen drink? It's fun. It's also a decent solution to weak margaritas.
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Don't toss a lime in the glass: You can serve it on the side so a drinker can give the wedge a hearty squeeze, but it does no good floating around in the bottom of a glass. It just freezes there anyway.
Don't pour your drink into a hot glass: At Chuy's I had a drink that was MOA (melted on arrival). Melted frozen margarita tastes like the bottom of a Big Gulp in July.
Don't use shitty mix: If your drink looks like the Hulk, it's probably going to taste like Hulk piss. A frozen margarita should be the color of a slice of honey dew, not something that invokes a cartoon.
As long as these rules are adhered to, I'll happily drink a frozen margarita. Maybe even two. The rest of these high-calorie, low-alcohol gut bombs I've encountered? You can keep them.