This drink combines three passions of mine: margaritas, amaretto liqueur, and the act of “rehabilitating” drinks that many people find to be objectionable.
The margarita lives in a great balance between complexity and simplicity that makes it an ideal drink to execute. It's got a low ingredient count, basic structure, and relative ubiquity of its main parts (tequila, triple sec, lime and sugar), but it also has enough room to play around and get creative. The margarita is an example of what I like to call a “modified sour,” meaning that the base spirit is reduced slightly to make room for a liqueur, which in the case of a classic margarita, is an orange liqueur such as triple sec.
In this somewhat autumnal variation, which has most famously appeared on the Olive Garden’s cocktail menu, the orange liqueur is replaced with amaretto—an Italian liqueur made with bitter almond or apricot seeds—along with a small amount of orange juice. Orange juice is a surprisingly challenging ingredient to work with in cocktails because it does not provide the same concentrated level of acidity as lemon or lime. It’s usually best to pair orange juice with one of those juices, so your drink has the appropriate acid-to-sweet balance.
As with any margarita recipe, I encourage drinkers to serve them either up or on the rocks, according to their preference; there is no wrong way to serve it in this respect. That said, I might skip the salted rim here, but if it works for you, go for it. —John deBary
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Fill with ice, close the shaker, and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into an Old-Fashioned glass with a large ice cube, or into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lime wedge.
For agave syrup: Combine the light agave nectar with the warm water and stir to integrate. This will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to three weeks, or frozen for up to six months.