For Cinco de Mayo, my work had a margarita contest. The "rules" were that we would be provided with margarita basics and were allowed two secret ingredients.
It was a little disorganized, and there weren't nearly enough limes, but here's a summary of the results.
Group 1 made a drink that had tequila, lime, and a sweetener (I don't know which, since I didn't see it made, but it was very sweet), and for their secret ingredient....mint! So not so much a margarita, but a tequila-based mojito. The judges were unimpressed.
Group 2 made a strange concoction that was claimed to be the "real way" margaritas are made in Mexico. I do believe that a similar drink was made somewhere in Mexico, but I suspect it was a specialty drink in some resort restaurant. I observed the making, and as far as the ratios, it seemed to be a 2-3-1 rather than a 3-2-1 tequila-sweetener-lime ratio. The ingredients were as follows, as far as I remember:
Tequila (they used Patron silver instead of the provided Sauza)
All ingredients are shaken over ice, and strained into ice-filled glasses that have been rimmed in raw sugar crystals. Then grenadine is drizzled around the inside of the glass, and a thick spiral of lime is added as a garnish.
The grenadine falls to the bottom in a rather grisly-looking ring. I had a taste, and overall I think it should have been shaken with more ice, which the bartenders agreed but they had made too many servings in the shaker and so didn't get it watered down enough. It was mostly sweet, with the lime tartness finally coming through at the end. The tequila was untasteable. The judges called this one a "margarita-like tequila sunrise", and continued to be unimpressed.
Group 3 was my group, and we had two offerings.
My partner made a margarita the same way he'd had made for him in Cabo. One secret ingredient was Damiana
, which is a liqueur made from a special herb. It tasted pretty good by itself, but very unusual. It also has an entertaining bottle. He also had a bottle of Controy
, which seems to be a Mexican Cointreau ripoff.
The Damiana, Controy, and tequila were shaken with ice and poured into ice-filled glasses with salted rims. Then a fresh lime was squeezed over the glass. It was a pretty decent margarita, with the dominant taste being the aromatic Damiana.
I decided to wing it, and an hour before the contest I went through Whole Foods looking for secret ingredients. I considered using a fruity rice vinegar for half the lime juice, but in tasting found it to be good but rather un-margarita. So I decided to go with a pretty standard 3-2-1 margarita, but I halved the triple sec and made up the difference with orange honey. This had to be stirred into the rest of the ingredients before adding ice to the shaker, as otherwise it would solidify and not mix with the rest of the ingredients. To counter the earthiness of the honey I also added a dash of ginger juice.
Both versions were acceptably margaritay enough for the judges, and we won the prize. My share was a bottle of Patrón Añejo.