Meaning daisy in Spanish, the classic Margarita is a delicate balance between tequila’s natural vegetal notes, sweet orange and sharp lime.
A classic which every imbiber knows across the world, the Margarita has become the holiday cocktail, twisted with fresh fruits, blended with ice and lavished with salt. Brought back to its original version however, this is simply one of the cleanest, tastiest cocktails around and has raised tequila from a student dive bar shot to a serious mixology ingredient.
Tequila’s most famous cocktail is younger than most classics, truly coming into its own in the 1970s, almost a century after the likes of the Martini, Manhattan and other such cocktail stalwarts. The Margarita has deeper roots however, with an almost identical drink called a Picador, which calls for exactly the same ingredients in the same quantities, but simply omits the salt rim. The Picador’s recipe was first published by the United Kingdom Bartender’s Guild in the Café Royal Cocktail Book of 1937.
At some point the tequila, lime and orange combination left the UK and journeyed across the pond, adopting a salt rim and changing its name to Margarita. By 1973 Esquire’s revised Handbook for Hosts lists it among the "twelve most useful of all drinks."
However you prefer your Margarita, on the rocks or straight up, with a salt rim, half, or none at all, this cocktail has rightly earned its place among the classics.
Twist it up: Tommy’s Margarita
Replacing traditional orange with agave syrup, this version of the Margarita allows the tequila to truly shine.
Julio Bermejo is a household name within the drinks industry, and with good cause. While working in his parent’s restaurant Tommy’s in San Francisco, which is known and loved for its impressive tequila selection, he invented this sublime twist on the classic Margarita.
Thinking that the triple sec, which traditionally adds sweetness and a slight orange flavor to the cocktail, was drowning out the rich agave flavours in tequila, Julio updated the famous concoction. Taking out the triple sec and instead sweetening the otherwise sour cocktail with agave syrup means that the natural taste of tequila reigns supreme.
Agave syrup, if you haven’t come across it before, is made from the agave plant, whose core, or pina, is used to make tequila.
The Tommy’s Margarita is now featured on cocktail menus across the world and is thought by many to be a significant improvement on the original recipe. It’s usually served on the rocks without the salt rim, but as the recipe spread so did adaptations and you’re likely to find different bars have their own way of presenting the drink.