Another Round of Margaritas: Shades of Taos


Shades (noun):  A present reminder of a person or situation in the past, as in “Shades of my younger days”

After several years of serving countless blended margaritas (and single-handedly helping to fund the retirement of dozens of Jose Cuervo employees), and after developing a passion for learning to make martinis and other classic cocktails, I embarked on a quest to develop a recipe for a cocktail-style margarita.  The Hostess had just given me several bottles of premium tequila for Christmas and I’d spent many evenings, unsuccessfully, pouring the “two parts tequila, one part liqueur, and lime juice” formula into my shaker, trying to hit on the concoction for a really tasty “on the rocks” margarita.  And I was failing pretty miserably.

I really wanted to create a margarita that didn’t require the use of an off-the-shelf mixer.  I’d experienced quite a few bottled margarita mixes over the years (including many of those advertised as “premium”) and most had resulted in artificial-tasting teeth-achingly bad margaritas.  But my early home-grown versions, while at least not having an artificial tinge to their flavor, were equally bad in other ways – they were harsh, too-tart, too-boozy, and basically disappointing.  So you can imagine my joy (and relief) when I finally hit on a combination of freshly-squeezed lime, lemon, and orange, a dash of agave nectar, a just-right anejo (dark) tequila, and Cointreau.

Shades of Taos - Pouring

This blend proved to be perfect.  Well, except that it also proved to be so smooth that over-consumption was a real threat, as we discovered one legendary evening during trip to Taos with some good friends.  It was the first “public” appearance of my new creation, and before we realized it, the four of us had consumed an entire fifth of tequila and half a bottle of Cointreau while using only four lemons, four limes, four oranges, and a few dashes of agave nectar as mixer.  Not pretty, and a little scary.

Somewhere during the latter part of that evening, while walking around town, the group agreed that my new margarita was a success and asked what I was going to call it.  (Huh, I’d never even considered that my cocktail might need its own name.)  So our “drinking team” (a group of overachievers if you’ve ever seen one) took that on as a task.  But happy hour had left us in a state where, while being the most brilliant, clever, and funny four people alive, we were also well beyond the point of remembering any remotely clever name that we might have come up with.  So my margarita went without a formal name for quite some time, referred to only as “those margaritas” when recalling our New Mexico road trip (the recollection usually accompanied by a slight shudder).  It was months later when my drink finally got its name.  We’d been invited to dinner at the home of the couple with whom we’d traveled to Taos, and they’d asked me to make “those margaritas” again.  As I handed out the first round, by way of a toast I said, “Shades of Taos!” as a reminder of the last time we’d enjoyed this cocktail together.  And the name stuck.

Shades of Taos MargaritaThe Shades of Taos margarita is at its best when you use the very best quality citrus fruit; it’s critical that the limes, lemons, and oranges are ripe and soft so that they yield the most juice possible.  You’ll be amazed at the smoothness of this margarita.  I suggest having a designated driver on hand if walking them off in a quaint New Mexico town isn’t a realistic option.

Click here to get recipe


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2 Responses to “Another Round of Margaritas: Shades of Taos”

  1. Margaret says:

    Bartender: Your recipe (and information) SAVED me from disaster recently. Unfortunately I had run out of my favorite mixer (Freshies) and had to make due with an inferior “bargain brand”. Luckily, I remembered your advice on using fresh juice. I was able to create a good tasting margarita with tequila, cointreu, (inferior) mixer and fresh-squeezed orange juice. The juice smoothed out the bite of the mixer and we salvaged Cinco de Mayo. Thanks!

    • Bartender says:

      Cool, I’m so happy the strategy worked for you!

      “EntertainingCouple.com — Saving the world from bad cocktails since 2012!”

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