A Healthy Alternative to the Margarita

by Celso Oliveira
May 7, 2020

Looking For A Healthy Alternative to the Margarita? 

Though we always advocate for moderation, we see no reason why a fruit-based cocktail can’t also include additional ingredients that also make you feel good and alive.

A Masterclass for the Soul

We connected with Beverage Director for The Madera Group Global in Los Angeles, Charity Jonhston, who wanted to put together a Masterclass for her friends to educate the group on how to make tequila drinks with a healthier appeal. Charity, a native of Los Angeles, has been instrumental in the rise of tequila and mezcal in the Southland. She leaves a mark wherever you can find her cocktails, most recently, even to-go. The agave-based recipes she created were filled with flavor and displayed meticulous presentation. 

Right before our world moved indoors, Charity got together with her close friends who were looking for a way they could enjoy premium, fresh-made Margaritas poolside, not relying on pre-mixed sweet and sour, which act as a shortcut for those still conquering craft drinks in the comfort of their homes. You’re typically also spending more time making the drink than enjoying it, especially when four people want drinks.

What About Spirulina – 5 great benefits!

Charity has always believed that any opportunity to drink is also an opportunity to introduce health benefits and tips to the consumer. For this recipe, she introduced Spirulina used as a binding agent and for its excellent health benefits. Why?

  • Spirulina adds often needed balance from its briny notes, similar to a saline solution.
  • It is particularly rich in minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium;
  • It is a complete protein and a source of healthy fats.
  • The blue-green algae’s color comes from chlorophyll, a detoxifier found in all green plants.
  • The blue comes from phycocyanin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant that is also known to increase the growth of stem cells.

Spirulina is no stranger to cocktail recipes, and it’s a commonly used ingredient among juicers, and has been for ages. Be sure to watch for quality when purchasing as there are many brands of Spirulina out there, but not all Spirulina should be created equally!

Time Management – Bartender’s Most Important Skill

Nobody likes waiting too long these days, and the goal is typically to avoid spending an hour in the kitchen to yield a single round of drinks. In such cases, one can’t even enjoy their drink without someone saying they are ready for another one, and it’s back to the grind—and a bartender never says no to another round. In that vein, every bartender’s goal should be to look for ways to be efficient while remaining engaged with the rest of the crowd.

Relying on The Senses to Get it Right Every Time

If you’re making 10-15 drinks per hour, you probably shouldn’t have a taste of every single one. You must rely on tact and visual cues instead, which takes a lot of practice. Such as ice pebbles becoming less noticeable while dilution accelerates without chilling further. Sound can even tell you when a drink is ready.

“I can almost hear it when dilution needs to stop.”  – Charity Johnston – Beverage Director

Tools of the Trade

A muddler, a cocktail shaker, tongs, and a jigger. Are all these things really necessary? Maybe not, but having the right tools will help with the efficiency and consistency of flavors. When prepared with the right tools, the outcome should be easier to attain.

Some of these tools require practice and have their share of quirks. Bartenders develop a sense of comfort with these tools, often learning when and how to demand more from each instrument.

What makes a good cook, bartender or craftswoman, is an obsession with detail and a deep connection to the senses. Much like our founders, Charity is continuously looking for innovative barware that can help her staff replicate her recipes every time, with minimal variability.

Off Script: A choice for Cucumber, Reposado Tequila, and Amaro

In movies, often, actors go off-script to produce the best results. Think of drink recipes as a script. Most people think clear tequila is a requirement for a margarita, but we also love Reposado as it can provide an extra layer of depth to a simple drink recipe.

Charity loves working with Casa Mexico Tequila from the highlands of Jalisco. American oak aging adds depth to Casa Mexico Tequila, making for the best margaritas!

Cucumbers tend to be earthy, refreshing, and delicious with highland tequila. Tequila from Los Altos benefits from a richer soil and a green-grass exuberance, and in the Tequila Valley yields more earthy and floral sensations.  

This recipe also opens up the possibility to include an Amaro (a type of fortified wine) to the drink instead of commonly used Triple Sec or other orange liqueurs. Amaro, meaning bitter, makes the cocktail a little more refreshing and earthy.

Fun Fact: Amaro was once used for medicinal purposes.

Thirsty yet? Here is the recipe for one if you’re just in the mood for a quick and refreshing drink.

The Spirulina Margarita

Yield Makes 2 servings

  • 4 oz. Casa Mexico Reposado Tequila
  • 1.5 oz. agave syrup
  • 1.5 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice (for reference, one lime will yield 1 oz.)
  • 1 oz. Amaro 
  • 0.5 oz Spirulina
  • 1/4 cup chopped cucumber

Directions:

    1. Add cucumer to the shaker and muddle.
    2. Fill shaker with ice and the rest of the ingredients, and shake until thoroughly chilled, about 15 seconds (the bottom of a metal shaker should frost over).
    3. Fill two highball glasses with fresh ice and strain margarita into both glasses. Garnish with sun-dried, gold dusted lime wedges if desired and serve. 

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Pro Tips:

  1. Use Spirulina for additional health benefits.
  2. Fresh Limes generally yield 1 ounce per lime.
  3. Chooseing fresh and organic is always better.
  4. A Blanco Tequila lets you know how great the distiller is, because there are no oak flavors or aging to hide behind. It’s just the flavor of agave, freshly distilled.
  5. Reposado Tequila is perfect for margaritas and other mixed drinks, as the slight amount of aging rounds and softens the flavor.

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