During my exhaustive research into the perfect margarita, I found a recipe that called for no Triple Sec or Cointreau, but used agave nectar for the sweet component. Intrigued, I gave it a try. I also wanted to know something about margaritas that Tommy:eats didn’t know.
Agave nectar can be found in many specialty food stores and places such as Whole Foods. It looks a bit like maple syrup, and it is just as sweet, but it has a fruitiness that makes it less cloying. It is made from the juice of the agave plant, although my guess is that the blue agave is reserved for tequila and they use the other varieties for agave nectar.
The margarita recipe that I found called for a tequila:fresh lime juice:agave nectar ratio of 6:4:1. That worked pretty well; the drinks were a hit with everyone who tried them, even my sister’s yappy little dog. He calmed down nicely after a few laps of my sister’s drink (she didn’t know). I found that the agave nectar became very thick and didn’t mix well with the other ingredients if I tossed everything into the shaker with ice. So, I mixed the nectar with the lime juice first, and then shook everything with ice.
I liked this variation; the lime flavor really comes out, probably because there is no orange from the Cointreau to mask it. However, the Cointreau version is a more complex, interesting drink. I would use agave nectar to correct the sweetness of the classic margarita. That may be the best of both worlds — and will be an experiment for another time. Given the choice, I would have to go with the classic. But on a balmy summer night, with no Cointreau in the house? You can’t go wrong with this drink.