About 25 years ago, while on a flight returning from a business trip to Mexico City, I was having the usual get-to-know-you, pre-flight conversation with my seat mate on the plane. At some point, I mentioned the fact that I really didn’t know how to make a real margarita. I told him I thought that typical recipes and mixes in the U.S. were too sweet and how I’d love to be able to make a margarita like the ones I had during my brief visit to Mexico City. He sympathized and told me that his family in Mexico had a frozen margarita recipe that they had used for as long as he could remember and he would be happy to share the recipe with me if I was interested.
I don’t remember my response, but I’m fairly sure it was something like, “hell yes!”
I tore a piece of paper out of my notebook and he scribbled it down. I was so excited to try it out, then, unfortunately, I lost the recipe before I ever had a chance to make it. Fast forward roughly 25 years and guess what I found? Yup, what I have referred to as the Plane Margarita for years. Now, just in time for Cinco de Mayo 25 years later, I not only finally made the Plane Margarita, but also documented the process with detailed, step-by-step instructions for Consumatorium readers.
Here’s the original recipe from the plane ride.
OK, yeah, the “makes ten gallons” thing is a bit scary. When I made it, I cut the recipe 20-fold, resulting in a total of 1/2 a gallon (64 oz). I’d suggest you make a smaller batch like this at first. If you like it, then go wild. You know how to multiply, right?
The Plane Margarita Recipe
- 2 Cups (16 oz) Water
- 3-3/4 oz Lime Juice (See How Much Juice Comes From a Lime?)
- 1 Egg White
- 4-1/4 oz Granulated Sugar (Rounded down a little from original recipe)
- 1 oz Cointreau
- 8 oz Tequila (I used Reposado)
You’ll also need something to beat the egg whites and sugar – a hand mixer of some type, electric or manual – and a blender.
As the recipe above says, you’re going to make a lime juice mixture containing water, lime juice, sugar and an egg white. This mixture will sit overnight in the fridge. To make the lime juice mixture, start by pouring the water in a pot and heating until just before the boiling point. Your goal isn’t to boil off the water, but simply to make it hot.
While you’re heating the water, set aside the other ingredients. The sugar, egg and lime juice.
Once the water has reached a near boil, add the lime juice. You’ll want to take the mixture off the stove and let it cool to the touch.
While you’re waiting for the lime juice mixture to cool down a bit, you can work on prepping the rest of the mixture. Separate the egg white from the yoke. You’ll only need the white for the mixture.
Beat the egg white(s) for a minute or two to get them nice and frothy.
Fold in the sugar and keep beating the mixture.
The volume increases a lot.
Finally, add the egg white/sugar part of the mixture to the lime juice and water combo.
Mix the two together by hand.
There’s a critical point missed in the writing of the recipe. Perhaps the guy on the plane gave me the detail many years ago, but I had forgotten . . . How much, by measure, of the “lime juice” (that is, the combo of water, lime, egg and sugar) do you put in the blender? What I figured out through some experimentation is that he uses “blender” as a measurement and most blenders are 6 cups. So, once you fill the blender to the 6 cup level with ice, you pour in the “lime juice” to fill around the ice, but only up to the level of the ice. If you have a 6 cup blender, this is obvious. If you have a larger blender, as I do, it’s not quite as clear.
So, you will not be making a 1/2 gallon of the margarita at once. You’ll be making it in 6-cup batches. Really, it makes total sense when you’re doing it . . . I hope 🙂
With that all cleared up, I filled the blender with 6 cups of ice, then added 1 ounce of Cointreau and 8 ounces of Tequila. I then poured in the refrigerated mixture until it just covered all the ice. The blender does all of the heavy lifting. Make sure you run the blender long enough to get rid of any chunks of ice. You know you’re done when the final product is smooth and almost creamy in texture.
Dispense into your favorite margarita glassware and enjoy.
Why You’ll Like the Plane Margarita
This recipe has all the great taste you’re looking for in a margarita without any of that synthetic sweet and sour gook that gets caught in the back of your throat. While I’m not partial to frozen margaritas, many people are. With a little preparation, you can make a ton of this stuff in batches for a party or even for just a handful of guests. It’s very smooth and tasty and entirely worth the extra effort.