Mix it up: How I made the best margarita ever on my first attempt

Philip Salter
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AMONG popular economists (if such a thing isn’t oxymoronic) there is a debate about how long it takes to learn a new skill. Nobody can agree. Malcolm Gladwell of Outliers fame suggests it will take you 10,000 hours to truly master something, while Josh Kaufman, author of The First 20 Hours, thinks you can pick up a new skill in, well, 20 hours. They are both wrong: I made the perfect margarita on my first attempt.

In Gladwell and Kaufman’s defence, this wasn’t the first cocktail I’ve ever made, or even the first cocktail that day. But it was my first attempt at making a margarita and it had been a decade since one had passed my lips. Once drunk, twice shy.

Sadly, for every good margarita that is made, 1,000 or more bad cocktails are served up under the same name. As with plenty of other classic cocktails, it is deceptively tricky to make well – precision is necessary to get the ratio of tequila, orange liqueur and lime just right – but many bars and restaurants don’t even try. Arguably the lowest ebb in humanity’s stint on this spinning rock in the great nothingness was the creation of the margarita machine and sour-mix. For anyone who has not come across this invention: ignorance is bliss.

My margarita was made during a five-hour long cocktail masterclass with Shaker BarSchool at Shaker&Company (clearly the space bar was broken when they were registering with Companies House). There are plenty of so-called cocktail masterclasses out there, but most are just a cover for getting merrily drunk without the crowds. This is not one of them. At this masterclass you’ll actually learn how to make cocktails (and get merrily drunk without the crowds).

Working behind Shaker&Company’s striking 10-metre cocktail bar, Amit Sood led the class through a whistle-stop tour of some of the classics: London’s Tom Collins; America’s Moscow Mule, Daiquiri and Cosmopolitan; Brazil’s Caipirinha; and Mexico’s Margarita.

It was towards the end of the five hours that I made the best margarita in history. I should confess to being a little biased and a few cocktails in by that stage. And even if it was good, I suppose it might have been luck.

If Gladwell’s right, I'll need to devote another 9,994 hours to margarita making before I have mastered it. Needs must.

■ 40ml Tequila
■ 20ml Cointreau
■ 25ml Lime juice

• Shake all ingredients over ice for a few seconds.
• Double strain into a martini or margarita glass that has had lime run around the rim and dipped in rock salt (avoid getting salt in the glass).