Margaritas come in many flavors including classic, strawberry, mango and raspberry and can be served on the rocks or frozen. They have a refreshing taste and go well with foods that bring out their citrus essence. An entire meal can be planned to accompany margaritas. For cocktail parties, a buffet-style setup of complementing appetizers and desserts will amplify the margarita flavor.
A Mexican theme works best with margaritas. Bean and seven-layer dips should be served with various tortilla chips made with blue, white and yellow corn. Nachos make a delicious hot appetizer. They are easy to make by taking a cookie sheet and filling with tortilla chips and adding toppings of your choice like queso and cooked chicken or shrimp and baking in the oven on 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cold toppings like sour cream, salsa and guacamole should be placed in side dishes.
For more creative appetizers, quesadillas filled with chicken, cheese or vegetables and taquitos – miniature, rolled up soft shell tacos that are deep-fried – will spice up the evening.
It is important to choose ingredients that will complement the citrus flavor in the margarita. For classic margaritas, use a lime or lemon based vinaigrette so the dressing does not overpower the taste of the cocktail; raspberry or strawberry vinaigrettes work best for flavored margaritas. The flavor of the margarita should be included in the salad. For example, chicken breast or shrimp should be marinated in mango nectar or lime, lemon or orange juice before grilling. To give the salad vibrant color and a bold kick, add strawberries, grapes, mandarin oranges, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers and orange, yellow and green bell peppers. Lettuce options should include mesclun, field or baby greens for a bold flavor.
A classic entrée to pair with margaritas is fajitas. Whether, mild, medium or spicy, the cool citrus of the cocktail will balance its fiery taste. Chicken or shrimp should be blackened or marinated in lime juice or chili glaze. Accompanying vegetables should include shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and green peppers. Salsa, guacamole and sour cream should be placed on the side.
For a lighter fare, chicken, shrimp and vegetable kabobs can be served over rice. Vegetables that are hearty enough for kabob sticks include summer squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and artichoke hearts.
Because margaritas are either sweet or tart, complementary desserts should be light. Placing a variety of berries in fancy dishes and adding ginger ale or lemon-line soda can jazz up fruit cups. Sorbet flavors should be chosen in the same family as the margarita flavor. A raspberry margarita would go well with blueberry sorbet, whereas lemon sorbet would better complement a classic margarita. The creaminess of crème brulee, key lime or coconut custard pie would balance the tartness of a classic margarita.