Build a Better Margarita and They Will Come

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Sangrita, tequila, and flavored salts From Jim's session (but they're another story)

<p><strong>Q: I have always been “wear and let wear” when it comes to britches, but I’ve held the line with my Wrangler 13MWZs. Always been a heavy-starch guy and wear only the ones that still have the patch to formal occasions. During a recent visit to the fat stock show in Fort Worth, it was brought to my attention by the wife and daughters that I need to update my jeans to a more modern look. The example presented to me had back pockets that looked like the front door of a cathouse (or what I’ve heard that door may look like). I have no intention of making this move, but has the attire that was good enough for Lucas McCain, King George, and Willie taken a turn toward extinction?   </strong><br /> Russell Faulks, Fort Worth</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> It’s clear, Mr. Faulks, that you are a man who is quite comfortable in his own skin and at the same time admirably tolerant of others who are comfortable in their own skin—as unnecessarily showy, over-embroidered, over-appliquéd, over-inlaid, over-overlaid, too-stretchy, too-skinny, and just plain weird-looking as that skin can sometimes be. This is a philosophy the Texanist always applauds and tries to adhere to himself, although he occasionally fails. The fact that your family and a fair portion of the jeans-wearing public do not share your taste in old-school dungarees hasn’t, even over the course of all these years, affected you in the least bit. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? That’s your motto. That’s the Texanist’s motto too. It was way back in 1947 that professional rodeo cowboys Jim Shoulders, Bill Linderman, and Freckles Brown first test-drove and endorsed the 13MWZ model, and there are plenty of cowboys—full-time, part-time, and dime-store—who still swear by this style. Sure, jeans manufacturers, Wrangler included, have updated their lines from time to time, even going so far as to gaudily embellish the rear ends with fancy stitching, rhinestones, and the like. But they’ve mostly left their classics alone. They’ve done this for one simple reason: because people have demanded it, people like the Rifleman, who as TV blooper sites have pointed out, roamed the late-1800’s Southwest in poorly disguised Wranglers; George Strait, who is such a dyed-in-the-denim Wrangler man that they named the 13MGS George Strait Cowboy Cut® Original Fit Jean after him; and Willie “Willie and Wrangler: A Legend Made in Jeans” Nelson. Thanks to men like these (and you, Mr. Faulks), the blue jeans we grew up with are the same blue jeans we’ll grow old in. It is the Texanist’s recommendation that you not let anything, well-intentioned familial advice included, come between you and your Wranglers. </p> <p><strong>Q: This year I will be fortunate enough to marry the love of my life and move back to my home state of Texas after six long years of college. To celebrate both, and in lieu of the typical bachelor’s party, I want to do something to reconnect with the Texas spirit—climb the mountains, ride the rivers, camp on the open prairie. Any suggestions?</strong><br /> Sam Wallace, Metuchen, New Jersey</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> Were these the olden days, the Texanist might have suggested a rollicking road trip down I-35 for a weekend of cold Mexican beer, hard Mexican tequila, delicious and refreshing Cadillac Bar <a href="http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/ramos-gin-fizz" target="_self">Ramos gin fizzes</a>, and a whole slew of weird debaucheries in Nuevo Laredo. You are a bit young to remember, but once upon a time, when a group of pals such as you and your buddies had occasion to let loose for a spell, a jaunt across the Rio Grande would have topped the list of potential destinations. Border towns back then had much to offer indeed. The Texanist knows this from personal experience, but as this is a family magazine, he must refrain from going into any detail. You’ll just have to trust him. Alas, times have changed. But, hey, if you think y’all are up to it, the Texanist knows of a one-stop shop for mountain climbing, river riding, and backcountry camping: Big Bend. And Mexico is right there beckoning—you know, in case someone gets a wild hair.</p> <p><strong>Q: My husband and I were excited to attend the Ameripolitan Music Awards in Austin recently, but when we got to our seats the gentleman in front of me was wearing a rather large cowboy hat that blocked my view of the stage. My daddy always takes his hat off inside, and this gentleman was of an age that would have indicated he should know hat etiquette, but I wasn’t sure if the spirit of the event warranted it as a hats-on occasion? I solved the problem by asking my taller husband to switch seats with me, but should I have asked the man to remove his hat?</strong><br /> Maggie Stephens, via Facebook</p> <p><strong>A: </strong>The ins and outs and offs and ons of indoor and outdoor hat wearing can be downright dizzying these days. The old “hats off when indoors” maxim is oversimplified and not always fitting. Legendary Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips never wore his trademark cowboy hat in the Astrodome because he was taught it was bad manners. Yet the equally legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry was rarely seen without his trademark fedora, even inside Texas Stadium. (True, the former home of the Cowboys did have that giant opening in the roof, which provided a bit of a loophole, but still.) The fact is, giant domed stadiums (with or without sunroofs), indoor rodeos, livestock auctions, tractor pulls, Saturday night dances, and similar settings make for hat-etiquette gray areas, where the common sense and decency of the wearer is called for. A sit-down awards show and concert at a classy indoor theater such as the one where the event you attended was held would likely be a place where one would expect a person to kindly remove his lid so as to not hamper anyone’s good time. Tapping the fella on the shoulder and informing him that his hat was impeding your view would have been a completely reasonable thing for you to have done. Next time, don’t hesitate.</p> <p><strong>Q: I recently purchased a manufactured house that sits on 5.6 acres. I would like to know if it would be presumptuous, boastful, or just plain delusional to call my new homestead a ranch. It sits on top of a hill in the so-named Hill Country, and the property is mostly vertical and not really hospitable to the care and feeding of animals. So what is it: farm, ranch, or trailer on a hill?</strong><br /> Jayne Bellyk, Pipe Creek</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> Before the Texanist breaks the news to you, he’ll have you know, just for comparison’s sake, that at five and a half acres your spread is, give or take, about the size of five football fields, or just over two city blocks, or about a tenth the size of the little nine-hole golf course near the Texanist’s house that he likes to sneak off to for a quick round after dinner sometimes, or a little bit bigger than the Alamo complex in the middle of downtown San Antonio, or not quite six Floore’s Country Stores in nearby Helotes. Further, it’s less than a third the size of the Buc-ee’s convenience store in New Braunfels and about 1/150,000th the size of the King Ranch, an actual ranch. Your humble piece of Hill Country heaven sounds like a great spot to sit and take in a pretty sunset or perhaps roll out a small blanket next to a small campfire and lie on your back beneath a star-filled sky while pondering the enormity of the rest of the universe, but it would be a colossal exaggeration to refer to “Bellyk Place” or “Bellyk’s Hill” or “1234 It’ll Do Lane” as either a ranch or a farm. And that’s perfectly okay. </p> <p><strong>The Texanist’s Little-Known Fact of the Month:</strong> Wearing a pair of Texas flag shorts like those made famous by Willie Nelson all those years ago does not, as the Texanist once believed, go against the Texas flag code, which differs slightly from the flag code of the United States in that it does not frown upon the use of the flag as “wearing apparel.” However, “bedding or drapery” made of either the Lone Star flag or Old Glory is a no-no. </p>

This made my day.  Barkeep Jim Meehan, of PDT in New York, shared his favorite margarita recipe at his session on Tequila and Salt at the Austin Food & Wine Festival yesterday afternoon. As soon as I got home from the long, long day, took a shower and washed my hair—the dust and sun and waiting lines were unbelievable at Auditorium Shores–I tried his version. Thumbs up. Might do the same thing again after the festival wraps up today. Jim Meehan’s Margarita 2 ounces silver tequila (he’s fond of El Tesoro Platinum and Tequila Ocho Silver) ¾ ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed ¾ ounce Cointreau Stir together and serve over ice in a glass rimmed with salt (or not, your choice) Note: If you find this a tad tart–and I have to say I did–sweeten it up with ¼ ounce or more of agave nectar thinned with water to make it pourable. Although Jim didn’t say anything about what type of lime to use, I think all margs are better when they’re made with small round Mexican, aka Key, limes instead of large green Persian limes. They taste like Mexico to me. Incidentally, now that I’ve met Jim, I’m got to visit his awesome-sounding bar next time I’m in New York. Here’s a blurb from New York magazine’s website: “[PDT is] the cocktail-lounge annex to Crif Dogs, an East Village mainstay known for its deep-fried Jersey-style franks. Accessed through a vintage phone booth within Crif Dogs, PDT (short for Please Don’t Tell) is a snug, sexy speakeasy.” It’s located at 113 St. Marks Place (between 1st Ave & Avenue A). If you want to try more recipes, get  The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender’s Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy (Sterling Epicure, $29.95 list price, less on Amazon). By the way, please comment on the recipe and feel free to share yours.

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