Thoughts on Entertaining: The Margarita Principle

This tool will solve most party problems

People are funny. Sometimes we say one thing (and believe it) but do something quite different. (I say “we” because I firmly believe that we are “those people”, if you know what I mean). We see this in all forms of life, but I will avoid “hot” topics like politics, religion, sex, etc. and focus on our thing, entertaining for family and friends.

One of our biggest discoveries at Putney Farm is something we call “the margarita principle”. It is simple really, and it goes like this: No matter how “foodie” or rarefied the crowd, everyone likes a margarita, usually more than one.

And if you are saying “not my friends” I have news for you- they want the margarita. Yes, they do. Accept it. If you make a fresh margarita they will be chucking elbows to get at them, all the while saying ”oh I never have these….but if you are serving them, hmmm…”.

(The principle also applies to rich, buttery, oaky chardonnay from California. Everyone says they are “over” it. But somehow, regardless of what other wine you offer, the oak bomb will be gone. People like it. It is OK, save the Torrontes for yourself.)

You can kill yourself serving a blogger- certified, award-winning Gin/Aperol/Coffee tincture cocktail and maybe, mmmaaayyybbeee (rolling eyes), 10% of your guests will be happy.  15% will be happy if you get some tats and dress up like Jerry Thomas.

You will be exhausted, so will your spouse. The three foodies in the room will “sorta like” it but then say you needed to “make the coffee tincture yourself….in the basement…3 months ahead….using an old wine barrel…and they’ve had better…oh, is that a margarita, I never have these….but if you are serving them, hmmm…”.

We have come to embrace the margarita principle, and our guests are happy. We are happy.  Happy is good. We go for the marg, not all the time, but often- particularly in summer. We do go a few different ways with the Margarita- high and (very) low end. Both work.

For big, informal events (Super Bowl?) we rent a big frozen margarita machine from a party rental company (not really expensive- worth a call to check on price). They deliver the machine and mix. We go to Costco and get some decent inexpensive tequila. We put the machine outside along with iced beer, wine and soda in a galvanized tub. Everyone loves it. The margs are bright green, slushy and totally ridiculous (all the better in a Red Solo cup ;-)). The drinks taste “OK”, the machine is a hoot and it is an excellent source of conversation. Everyone has a goofy margarita story, everyone has a joke about the machine, everyone “just has to try it”. Easy conversation starters, along with booze, puts guests at ease. It’s fun. You are a great host. Victory.

For smaller groups, we do hand-made margaritas with fresh-squeezed lime juice and good tequila, some simple syrup or agave nectar and Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Triple Sec. We go light on the Cointreau / Grand Marnier- we like the fresh lime in the spotlight.  But basically, we use a 3/3/2 ratio of tequila / sweet  / lime. Try this out, but you should use the ratio you want. If you use fresh lime juice it will be good. We mix a pitcher or two, provide some decent glasses, ice on the side, and let people serve themselves.

Often with cocktails, guests want more than one, but may be embarrassed to ask for more- the pitcher solves the problem. As for salt, we simply put a few pinches of kosher salt into the pitcher and stir. The drink still gets the tang of salt the without the hassle. It never seems to be an issue. Here is our recipe, but use whatever one you want- just provide easy cocktail access for your guests!

Fresh Margaritas:


–       3 parts silver tequila (purists my haggle but some reposados are really nice as well)

–       2 parts freshly squeezed lime juice

–       2 parts simple syrup or agave nectar

–       1 part Cointreau or Grand Marnier

–       Ice cubes

–       Kosher salt on rims of glass or about 2 pinches in a pitcher


  1. For a pitcher of margaritas, combine all of the ingredients in pitcher. Stir. Serve.
  2. For an individual drink use the same proportions, but rim a glass with the salt, or omit.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Entertaining: The Margarita Principle

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