You’ll first need to make some sweet & sour.

Sweet & sour:

1 part fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 part fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 part sugar (your pick—agave nectar works very well)
3 parts water

Agave nectar will quickly dissolve in the mixture of water and citrus juice. If using a solid sugar, start by dissolve the sugar in 1 part boiling water, then add the 2 remaining parts water and lemon and lime juice. This mixture lasts a few weeks when refrigerated. I like to freeze it in Gatoraid bottles cleaned out with unscented OxiClean or ziplock bags for longer storage.

Now, for the actual margaritas:

1 part Cointreau
1 part Grand Marnier
4 parts tequila
9–12 parts sweet & sour 

For a single margarita, 0.5 oz. each of Cointreau and Grand Marnier and 2 oz. tequila will set proportions well. To make two liters for a party, start with 4 oz. each of Cointreau and Grand Marnier and 16 oz. tequila. A dozen each lemons and limes will get you enough juice.

Some of our favorite tequilas include Tres Generaciones (pricy), Antiguo, El Jimador, and Ultimo Agave.

I’m forever indebted to David Cooper, who we met while he was working at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill in Las Vegas, for help with this recipe. Don’t miss this place if you find yourself in Las Vegas. I’ve eaten there three times, and the food and drinks have never failed to please.


Many gins taste like aftershave courtesy of the manufacturer overloading them with botanicals (I’m talking about you, Tanqueray). I find Plymouth, Hayman’s, and Boodles much more to my liking for martinis. Fixing a tasty martini also means choosing a good vermouth, which means staying away from Cinzano. I prefer Noilly Prat for French (dry) vermouth and Martini & Rossy for Italian (sweet) vermouth. Keep the gin in the freezer to minimize the mount of ice needed to chill the drink.


2 oz. gin
0.5 oz. dry vermouth
0.5 oz. sweet vermouth
splash of olive brine

Mix the ingredients in a shaker with several cubes of ice and shake the hell out of it. Quickly pour the mixture in a martini glass to get a nice coat of ice chips on the surface.

Gin & Tonic

The above gins will make a fine gin & tonic, but I find Magellan hard to beat when making this drink. It’s just okay in martinis but makes a cosmic gin & tonic, and the blue color adds to the eye appeal. The tonic is at least as important as the gin in providing a satisfying drink. Unfortunately, nearly every tonic is sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, which gives it a nasty taste. Exceptions include Fever Tree and Stirrings, both of which I can recommend. I’ve yet to run across Q, but it should also work well. Store the gin in the freezer and the tonic in the refrigerator to avoid the ice melting excessively and watering down the drink.


1 part gin
1–2 tonic
Lime juice

The juice from a quarter of a lime is about right when starting with 2 oz. of gin. Serve the drink on the rocks.

Chocolate Martini

One of my best friends brought back this gem from the Venetian in Las Vegas.

1.5 oz chocolate vodka (Golden Boar, Van Gogh, etc.)
1.0 oz chocolate liqueur (Mozart, Godiva, etc.) 
.75 oz Bailey's
.75 oz Amaretto

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake vigorously, and pour into martini glasses. For a special touch, drizzle chocolate patterns in the glasses prior to pouring in the liquid.

Last edit: 5 June 2011