Sometimes you need a Margarita, sometimes you need a beer

Brian Rung

    Sometimes you need a Margarita, and sometimes you need a beer. Thanks to the miracle of modern mixology that is the Beergarita, you have them both at the same time.
    It's happy hour at your favorite restaurant. Don't tell me that you have not raised an eyebrow when a server arrives at the neighboring table with what appears to be a tray of large Margaritas stuffed with upside down bottles of beer. That can't be good, or can it?
    The Beergarita began its double life about 25 years ago in Mexican resorts and hotels. Originally it was a novelty item on menus that someone would order for a friend's birthday, bachelorette party, divorce party or retirement party.
    Everyone at the table gets a good chuckle when Larry's eyes get wide as he is served a giant Margarita with a full beer in it.
    Actually the Beergarita can be quite good provided that your beer and your Margarita have complementary flavor profiles. The Margarita component of the Beergarita is the standard three ingredient restaurant Margarita, it's the beer that will make or break the drink.
    I suppose that you could use just about any beer in this cocktail, but I recommend using Mexican beer for a few reasons. First, Mexican beer is almost always served with a lime.
    Lime is the dominant flavor note in the Margarita, so this is perhaps our best indicator that Mexican brew is the best way to go. Mexican beer and lime were made for each other.
    Second, it is virtually impossible to overpower a cocktail with a smooth Mexican beer. My two favorite Mexican beers for the Beergarita are Dos Equis Lager Especial (green bottle) and Modelo Especial (white label).
    Avoid the darker offerings labeled negra or amber. The darker brews are great beers, but for this application only the lightest and smoothest from south of the border will do.
    Corona and Tecate are also commonly used in the Beergarita. If you prefer Corona use the extra, and if using Tecate use the original red label. I have yet to find an American beer that I enjoy in the Beergarita.
    If you are going for full style points you will want to serve this one with the upside down beer bottle in the glass. If you are going to serve this way, make sure that your glass is large enough to accommodate the bottle.
    Follow the Margarita recipe below, open the beer bottle and simply insert the open bottle into the glass.  
    For the most part the beer will stay in the bottle until the level of your drink dips far enough below the level of the beer in the bottle.
    Pressure will keep the beer in the bottle when the drink is full, allowing more beer to come into the glass as the drink is consumed and the pressure changes.
    Despite having a full bottle of beer resting in the drink, you will get only a hint of beer flavor from the Beergarita when the drink is prepared this way. Most of the beer will flow from the bottle when the Margarita is nearly gone.
    Essentially you are left with a Mexican beer and a squeeze of lime to follow your Margarita. This will save you a walk to the fridge if you are enjoying this cocktail poolside, or perhaps in a hammock in Key West.
    Serve with a straw if using a bottle in your Beergarita. There is a delicate balancing act that is essential to drinking a Beergarita without a straw.
    Many have tried it, only a few have truly mastered it. Odds are your guests are in the “tried it” group.
    The more balanced approach to the Beergarita involves simply adding the beer to the Margarita, doing without the pizzazz and visual pop of the bottle.
    I prefer adding the beer directly to the Margarita. It can be as little as one to two ounces or as much as 12 ounces. It doesn't matter because as I mentioned earlier Mexican beer and lime are a perfect pair.  
    Experiment a little, it's a matter of personal preference. I find that “about half” of a bottle is perfect.
    The size of your glass will limit the total volume of the cocktail, always try to get at least four ounces of beer into the Beergarita.
    Do not add your beer to the shaker when preparing the Margarita portion of the cocktail.  It's best to avoid shaking beer. Remember shaking sodas as a kid? The very same scientific principles apply today.
    If you prefer to rim your glass with salt, use plain kosher salt. I usually salt only half of the rim allowing guests to mix in the salty sips. Prep the empty glass for salt by running a lime wedge along the rim, about the top 1/4-inch or so.
    Pour kosher salt onto a small plate, hold the glass at a 45 degree angle as you roll the wet rim in the salt. The irregular granules of kosher salt will adhere to the glass for great flavor and a nice presentation. The idea is to salt the side or lip of the rim, not the top.
    By the way, the Margarita recipe below is a fantastic way to start your summer if you decide to skip the beer in this one.
    The Beergarita is built in a shaker and served in a large goblet-style glass.
    Fill shaker with ice.
    Add 2 ounces blanco tequila (100 percent agave).
    Add 1/2 ounce agave nectar.
    Add 1 ounce fresh lime juice.
    Shake and strain into large ice-filled glass.
    Top with 6 ounces Mexican beer (or insert open bottle of beer).
    Garnish with lime.
    Until next week, enjoy responsibly.