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11 Products to Help You Celebrate National Margarita Day

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Happy National Margarita Day! Celebrate by blending up some delicious cocktails. (Both traditional or frozen are allowed—it's a holiday, after all.) Here are some products to use while you and your friends are hanging on the porch throwing back margs in the warm February sun. 

1. QUENCH MARGARITA MASTER; $12

Nothing kills a buzz faster than having to clean a bunch of knives and strainers, so streamline the process with the all-in-one Margarita Master, which comes with a knife, reamer, jigger, salt rimmer, and strainer. Not only is the entire marg-making process handled with one device, but clean-up is easy, which means you can get back to enjoying the simpler things—namely, tequila, lime juice, and triple-sec—more quickly.

Find it: Amazon

2. MOLECULAR MIXOLOGY KIT; $30

Margarita Day is really about kicking back with a frosty treat, but if you want to inject some science into your cocktail, no one’s going to stop you. This kit comes with three easy molecular recipes to transform your margarita drinking experience. You can break down lime juice into little "caviar" beads or turn it into a flavor-filled cloud of foam. It may not be the way Jimmy Buffet intended the cocktail to be ingested, but there’s no judgment in Margaritaville. 

Find it: Uncommon Goods

3. TRES AGAVES MARGARITA MIX; $26

Most people prefer to make their margaritas from scratch, but when you're in a real rush to relax, there might not be time to get all the ingredients together. With agave nectar and pulpy lime juice, this handy mix guarantees a sweet cocktail in seconds; all you need to add is the tequila.  

Find it: Amazon

4. MARGARITA JELLY BELLYS; $11

If you’re looking to get into the spirit of the holiday without the booze, these jelly beans taste a lot like the real thing. “The Lexus of Jelly Beans!” one Amazon reviewer raved. The beans come in 1 pound bags; you can fill margarita glasses with the green beans for a similar experience. 

Find it: Amazon

5. COLORED SALT; $29

Buffet might still be searchin’ for his lost shaker of salt, but you can be well equipped with this kit of eight different colored salt tins. The dyed Sicilian flake comes in every color of the rainbow, so you can match your margs with your Hawaiian shirts.

Find it: Etsy

6. MARGARITA BATH BOMB; $5

Ever wish you could swim in a giant margarita? You can do something similar (and less sticky) by dipping into a bath with one of these margarita-scented bath bombs. Drop the ball into a tub and in just a few minutes, you can be soaking in lime smells and chill tropical vibes. 

Find it: Etsy

7. MARGARITA COOKIES; $32/DOZEN

These margarita-shaped cookies are a party for your taste buds. The hand-baked treats don't taste like a margarita (they have a hint of almond flavoring) but you can always wash them down with the real thing.

Find it: Etsy

8. VERY CHILL PARROT HAT; $5

When cruising over to your next margarita party, a simple Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops might not be enough to really convey how relaxed you’re about to get. Sporting this parrot hat is the perfect look for when you’re trying to really chill out with a cold margarita in hand. 

Find it: Amazon

9. MARGARITA POOL FLOAT; $28

Is there any better way to enjoy a margarita than by basking in the middle of a pool? This margarita-shaped pool float will keep you buoyant while you drift in a citrusy haze. Don’t worry: There’s a cup holder for your drink. 

Find it: Amazon

10. MARGARITAVILLE BAHAMAS FROZEN CONCOCTION MAKER; $181

When concocting the perfect frozen margarita, you need the perfect device to blend it. The Margaritaville Bahamas Frozen Concoction Maker is the perfect kitchen item to make cocktails that embody the casual islands attitude. A mixing tool with measurements for pina coladas, daiquiris, and margaritas helps fledgling bartenders get the ratios just right on the first go. The mixer is dishwasher safe so you can throw it in when you hit the hammock with your drink.  

Find it: Amazon

11. DUAL TANK BACKPACK; $40

Spread good vibes this holiday by dispensing margaritas in record time for all your thirsty friends. This dual-tank backpack comes with two gravity-fed hand taps and a 210-ounce capacity. There’s even a mesh bag that clips to the side and holds cups.

Find it: Home Wet Bar

DON’T FORGET: TEQUILA

Now that you’re in the spirit, you’re going to need the right spirits to pour in the blender.

SANTERA REPOSADO TEQUILA

Santera Reposado is an elegant tequila that's produced by Destilladora de Valle de Tequila in Mexico. The liquor is aged in oak for seven months and has a light, fruity flavor. 

CASA NOBLE CRYSTAL 

This Mexican tequila brand comes in a hand-blown crystal decanter. The smooth tequila offers a complex and tasty margarita. 

PATRON SILVER TEQUILA

When in doubt, go with a classic. Patrón silver tequila is great when mixed into a classic margarita of lime juice, agave nectar, and triple-sec.

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Big Questions
Is There Any Point in Letting Red Wine Breathe?
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by Aliya Whiteley

At the end of a long day, few things beat simple pleasures like watching a good film, eating a bar of chocolate the size of your head, or drinking a big glass of red wine.

By this point in the evening, most people don’t want to be told that they need to uncork the bottle and let the wine sit for at least 30 minutes before it becomes pleasantly drinkable. Yet that's (by the letter of the unwritten law) what you're supposed to do.

But why? Well, let's start with the assorted historical reasons.

Red wine has been around since the Stone Age. In fact, in 2011 a cave was uncovered in Armenia where the remains of a wine press, drinking and fermentation vessels, and withered grape vines were uncovered; the remains were dated at 5500 years old. Early winemaking often had a ritualistic aspect: Wine jars were found in Ancient Egyptian tombs, and wine appears in both the Hebrew and Christian bibles.

The concept of letting wine "breathe" is, historically speaking, relatively new and probably has its roots in the way wine was once bottled and stored.

Traditionally, sulfur is added to wine in order to preserve it for longer, and if too much is added the wine might well have an ... interesting aroma when first opened—the kind of "interesting aroma" that bears more than a passing resemblance to rotten eggs. Contact with the air may have helped to remove the smell, so decanting wine may once have been a way of removing unwelcome odors, as well as getting rid of the sediment that built up in the bottom of bottles.

It’s also possible that the concept springs from the early 1860s, when Emperor Napoleon III asked Louis Pasteur to investigate why so much French wine was spoiling in transit. Pasteur published his results, which concluded that wine coming into contact with air led to the growth of bacteria, thus ruining the vino. However, small amounts of air improved the flavor of the wine by "aging" it. In bottles, with a cork stopper, the wine still came into contact with a small amount of oxygen, and by storing it for years the wine was thought to develop a deeper flavor.

However, how much of that actually matters today?

Many experts agree that there is no point in simply pulling out the cork and letting the wine sit in an open bottle for any period of time; the wine won’t come into enough contact with oxygen to make any difference to the taste.

However, decanting wine might still be a useful activity. The truth is this: It entirely depends on the wine.

Nowadays we don’t really age wine anymore; we make it with the aim of drinking it quickly, within a year or so. But some types of wine that are rich in tannins (compounds that come from the grape skins and seeds) can benefit from a period of time in a decanter, to soften the astringent taste. These include wines from Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley, for instance.

If you really want to know if a particular wine would benefit from being given time to breathe, try your own experiment at home. Buy two bottles, decant one, and let it breathe for an hour. Do you notice a difference in the taste? Even if you don’t, it's an experiment that justifies opening two bottles of wine.

One word of warning: No matter where a wine comes from, it is possible to overexpose it to oxygen. So remember Pasteur’s experiments and don’t leave your wine out of the bottle for days. That, friends, would be one hell of a waste.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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alcohol
A Beer From the Middle Ages Is Making a Serious Comeback

Hop-forward beer is all the rage today, but in the middle ages many imbibers preferred brews that skewed towards the sweeter side. Now, centuries after it fell out of fashion, Atlas Obscura reports that gruit ale is making a comeback.

Gruit beer is any beer that features botanicals in place of hops. The ingredients that give the drink its distinctive sweet, aromatic taste can be as familiar as ginger and lavender or as exotic as mugwort and seabuckthorn. The herbs play the role of hops by both adding complex flavors and creating an inhospitable environment for harmful microbes.

It may be hard for modern beer lovers to imagine beer without hops, but prior to the 16th century gruit was as common in parts of Europe as IPAs are in hip American cities today. Then, in 1516, that style of beer suddenly vanished from pint glasses: That was the year Germany passed a beer purity law that restricted beer formulas to hops, water, and barley. Many of the key botanicals in gruit beer were considered aphrodisiacs at the time, and the rising Puritan movement helped push the brew further into obscurity.

Hops have dominated the beer scene ever since, and only in the past few decades have microbrewers started giving old gruit recipes the attention they're due. In 2017, the Scratch Brewing Company in Illinois released their seasonal Scratch Tonic, made from a combination of dandelion, carrot tops, clover, and ginger. The Põhjala Brewery in Estonia brews their Laugas beer using Estonian herbs, caraway, and juniper berries. Get in touch with your local microbrewery to see if they have their own version of the old-school beer in their line-up.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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