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    Starting with the Best Ingredients

    I’ve been corresponding with my good friend Dana who lived in Los Angeles when I did. We were both pursuing acting careers and making a living bartending.

    I got a hankering for my world famous “Lemon Drops” but couldn’t remember exactly what I used to put in them. So I e-mailed Dana and he reminded me, asking how I could possible forget when I was “the Lemon Drop Queen.” He fired off am e-mail back to me with the Lemon Drop recipe as well as my margarita recipe.

    Now, there’s a story behind the margarita recipe.

    Many bars and restaurants say they have a great margarita. But a great margarita has to start with great ingredients. Great ingredients do not come out of a mix. They also don’t come from cheap brands of liquors.

    As a matter of fact, when I was bartending in L.A. there was a contest among bartenders for the best margarita. Well, it wasn’t exactly a formal contest, but when Southwest California Dining Magazine writers came to review the Kachina Grill where I was bartending, they said the food was ok, but the margarita and “hilarious bartender Kathryn who served them” was the best.

    So, for the record, here is my recipe for margaritas. This recipe is simple, but must be followed exactly if you are going to get the full effect and not a watered-down, sugared-up version.

    Start with 2 ounces of Patron Silver tequila. Pour that over a shaker glass of ice and add 1 ounce of Cointreau orange liqueur and I ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice.

    If you substitute bottled lime juice or cheaper tequila or liqueur, I am not responsible for the consequences!

    The above should be covered with a shaker glass top and shaken vigorously and poured, ice and all, into a large tumbler.

    The recipe appears on the back of the Cointreau bottle, but doesn’t give the amount of lime juice, I suppose thinking the mixer will do it to taste.

    My next recipe makes a great summertime drink as well. Lemon Drops must start with a premium liqueur called Galliano. Drizzle a splash over a shaker-filled with ice and immediately strain out the remains. Then add two ounces of premium vodka such as Grey Goose. I take that back. Just bite the bullet and get Grey Goose. Liquor store owners will tell you it doesn’t make a difference, but it does. Squeeze two lemon wedges into the shaker as well along with a teaspoon of sugar and shake it even more vigorously than the margarita. Strain out the liquid cocktail or pour the contents with ice in a glass depending on whether you prefer to drink it as shots or as a cold sipping drink.

    Once again, any “mix” will not taste the same. And don’t be afraid to pour out the Galliano, it will taste like cough drops if you don’t. You just want a hint of the taste.

    Great restaurants and bars continue to attract patrons with the best ingredients, and those I worked at wanted their patrons, stars or not, to keep coming back. 

    Quality drinks like these would do that. Cheers!


    Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com