Like Blue Bell ice cream and Taco Cabana, Mexican Martinis are an Austin staple I miss dearly. I tried my first at Ninfa’s on a visit home from college with my then-boyfriend and his mom (sadly, the restaurant is permanently closed), and from that moment a margarita has never measured up.
The Mexican Martini is an undisputed Austin invention, but local opinion differs on whether Trudy’s or the Cedar Door lay claim to the original. (The New York Times sides with the Cedar Door, but I’m partial to Trudy’s, where our moms passed the time during our dance classes at Ballet Austin.) Either way, the drink tastes damn good, and this native Austinite could no longer live without them in Brooklyn.
Thanks to Leah, over the course of two nights this past fall we perfected the recipe. On the first occasion we tried two contenders, a bookmarked search of mine from 2009 and the printed one in the Times article. Neither lived up to my memory, especially because both were too sweet. We later learned we made two critical missteps: doubling the batch (three of us were drinking) and using store-bought oj. The orange juice was a rookie mistake (even the brand Simple, which claims no sugar added, tastes sweeter than fresh-squeezed). The batching miscalculation was less obvious. A single batch fills two martini glasses, which is why the bartender gives you the mixed cocktail in the shaker: you pour your own refill. Doubling the recipe left little room for ice, so the temperature was way too warm.
Correcting those steps on our following try, we kept the second recipe and substituted silver tequila for the reposado, arriving at a winner:
2 oz silver tequila
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz lime juice (fresh squeezed)
3/4 oz orange juice (fresh squeezed)
1/2 oz olive brine
Chill a glass (I store some in the freezer ahead of time), pour the above into a shaker, fill with ice and shake for 10 seconds. It’s optional to rim the glass with salt; I always do. Pour and serve with two olives, jalapeño-stuffed if you’d like.