"National Margarita Day" - History, Factoids, And Recipes...

In celebrating #NationalMargaritaDay on February 22nd, I give you a fully loaded post filled with history, factoids, info, and recipes.

The Margarita doesn’t begin showing up on bar counters until much later in cocktail history - well into the 1930s and '40s. The actual origin of the margarita has been obscured (too many margaritas, perhaps?), but it is not surprising it began showing up when it did. Thanks to the budding smuggling trade from Mexico into America during Prohibition and the scarcity of European brandies and spirits during World War II, tequila was becoming more common in bars across the country.

Arguably the most popular in the class of cocktails known as “the daisy”, an old-school cocktail category that uses spirit/citrus/flavored sweetener, versions began showing up in America shortly after the repeal of Prohibition. Travelers, fresh from a jaunt to the border, were impressed with the creations of an Irishman, who ran a Tijuana bar, and had accidentally invented the “Tequila Daisy” one evening after grabbing the wrong bottle (if you are to believe one of the many origin stories).

As cocktail historian David Wondrich points out in his book Imbibe!, while the name is vague and the actual ingredients difficult to discern, an easy search through whatever people used before Google Translate reveals the Spanish word for daisy is “margarita”.

Today, the Margarita is still one of the most popular drinks in the world. Cinco de Mayo marks the day when they are drank the most. The time, place, circumstance, or season does not matter to sip this Tequila-based cocktail. Unbeknownst to most people, the Margarita traditionally was made with 100% blue agave tequila and lime juice. Yes, that’s it! That’s what defines a Margarita. If you decide to visit a ‘hole in the wall’ tavern off of a dirt road in Guadalajara and order a Margarita, that is what you’ll get. Without those two essential ingredients, a drink is not a “Margarita”. Side note - International law states that the blue agave plant and tequila production cannot be transplanted, grown, and produced outside of Mexico. It is purely the property of Mexico.  

The Margarita has many variations and twists to please everyone’s taste and flavor profile. To keep it simple, I will list only the more common ones and the concoctions that I find truly magnificent and delicious. There are just too many Margaritas mixed up around the world to keep track of and many of them are called “Margaritas” even though by definition they are not. Year after year, the Margarita ranks as one of the most popular cocktails (top 5) in the world.

In the U.S. and many of other places, the Margarita is typically a mix of tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and margarita mix, and sours. This base mix has been adapted to include almost any fruit and liqueur combination imaginable. With the influx of imported tequilas on the market today, every consumer has a wide range of choices when it comes to their tequila. Silver, Blanco, Reposado, Anejo, Organic, etc… Try these organic tequilas - 123 Organic Tequila or Casa Noble, or Lunazul (great value), Avion, Espolon, Milagro, or the higher end Cabo Wabo, Maestro Dobel, and Don Julio. The coloration of the Margarita will become darker as you go from Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo.

Always garnish with a lime wedge, unless otherwise specified (flavored margaritas). Other options for a Margarita are to serve it straight up/neat, on the rocks, or frozen/blended (I don’t care for this version very much), agave in place of orange liqueur (sweeter version) and rimming it with salt or sugar. In San Francisco, it is common to replace the orange liqueur with agave. In some circles, Grand Marnier is used to create rich, stronger taste.

The following collection of Margarita recipes span the flavor spectrum and are my personal favorites. Cover photo courtesy of liquor.com

 

Standard Margarita

  • 1.5 oz Blanco Tequila, like Lunazul, Milagro, or Avion
  • 1 oz Triple Sec or Cointreau
  • ¾ oz fresh lime juice
  • Lime wedge or wheel for garnish
  • Kosher salt or sugar (optional)

Prep – Build all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass or tin. For a slightly sweeter drink, add a dash of agave syrup (—one part water, two parts agave nectar) —before shaking).Shake well. Strain into an ice-filled margarita glass on the rocks or strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe w/out ice. Garnish lime.

Make your own sour mix/lemon sour by combining equal parts simple syrup and fresh lemon juice or slightly more lemon juice. Avoid buying a pre-bottled Margarita mix - you will find that it’s loaded with preservatives and the fresh juice makes a far superior drink anyway.

 

Alternative Margarita

  • 1.5 Tanteo Blanco Tequila
  • ¾ oz Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 2 oz fresh lemon sour (1:1 or 1:1.5 simple syrup and lemon juice)
  • Lime wedge or wheel for garnish
  • Kosher salt or sugar to rim the glass (optional)

Prep – Build all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass or tin. Shake well. Strain into an ice-filled margaritas on the rocks or strain into a chilled cocktail glass w/out ice. Garnish lime.

 

The list below are variations of a standard margarita -

 

Gold Margarita

Same as Standard Margarita or Alt, just substitute the Blanco Tequila with Gold Tequila, i.e. Sauza Gold or Milagro

 

Grand Gold Margarita

Same as Gold Margarita, just substitute the Cointreau with Grand Marnier (more golden-color).

 

Blue Margarita

(photo courtesy of Video Jug)

Same as Standard Margarita or Alt, but substitute triple sec/Cointreau with Blue Curacao. Add splash of pineapple juice (optional)

 

Cadillac Margarita/El Dorado

Same as Grand Gold Margarita, but add ½ oz of Chambord and use 50/50 lemon sour and orange juice. Higher end Margarita.

 

Spicy Grand Margarita

(photo courtesy of liquor.com)

  • 1/2 oz Simple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1 pinch Chipotle chile powder
  • 1.5 oz Reposado Tequila, such as 123 Organic Tres Tequila
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 oz Fresh lime juice
  • Kosher Salt (opt)
  • Garnish 1 Jalapeño or red chile pepper

Prep - In a mixing glass, muddle the agave nectar or simple syrup, red pepper flakes and chile powder. Add all other ingredients and ice. Shake well and strain using a handheld strainer into an ice-filled rocks glass.Garnish with a jalapeño or red chile pepper.

 

Cosmo Rita

  • 1.5 oz Gold Tequila, such as Hornitos or Lunazul
  • 3/4 ozCranberry Juice
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau or Combier D'orange Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Fresh lime juice
  • Garnish Lemon twist

Prep - Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake for at least 15 seconds and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

 

Watermelon Margarita

(photo courtesy of liquor.com)

  • 1.5 oz Blanco Tequila, such as Espolon
  • 1/4 oz Watermelon Liqueur (optional for more sweeter taste)
  • 1/2 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz Fresh lemon sour
  • 2 oz Watermelon juice (extracted from muddling 2-3 seedless watermelon chunks)
  • Garnish lime wedge and/or slice of watermelon with skin

Prep - Muddle 2-3 seedless watermelon chunks in mixing glass. Add all the ingredients the mixing glass and add ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish lime and/or watermelon slice with skin.

 

Blackberry Margarita  

(photo courtesy of Dinners, Dishes, & Dessert)

  • 1.5 oz Organic Blanco Tequila, such as Casa Noble
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 oz Agave syrup
  • 4-5 muddled blackberries
  • Kosher salt or sugar (opt)
  • Garnish skewer of blackberries and lime wedge (opt)

Prep - Muddle 4-5 blackberries until mashed in mixing glass. Add ice and all other ingredients. Shake for about 15 seconds until well chilled and strain into a cocktail glass. margarita glass with ice, or large rocks glass. Garnish blackberries on a skewer and lime wedge (opt).

Standard Margarita

  • 1.5 oz Blanco Tequila (I recommend Lunazul or Sauza Hornitos)
  • 1 oz Triple Sec (Cointreau is recommended)
  • ¾ oz fresh lime juice
  • Lime wedge for garnish
  • Margarita Glass – on the rocks/Cocktail glass – straight up
  • Salt or sugar to rim the glass (optional)

Prep – Build all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass or tin. Shake well. Strain into an ice-filled margaritas if on the rocks or strain into a chilled cocktail glass w/out ice. Garnish lime.

Below this recipe is an alternative that uses sour mix (awful stuff) and, if you like it a little sweeter, add a dash of simple syrup or agave nectar to the first recipe. Make your own lemon sour by combining equal parts simple syrup and fresh lemon juice. Avoid buying a pre-bottled Margarita mix - you will find that it’s loaded with preservatives and the fresh juice makes a far superior drink anyway.

 

Alternative Margarita

  • 1.5 Blanco Tequila (see above recommended brands)
  • ¾ oz Cointreau
  • ¾ oz lime juice
  • 2 oz fresh lemon sour (1:1 simple syrup and lemon juice)
  • Lime wedge for garnish
  • Margarita or Cocktail glass
  • Salt or sugar to rim the glass (optional)

Prep – Build all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass or tin. Shake well. Strain into an ice-filled margaritas if on the rocks or strain into a chilled cocktail glass w/out ice. Garnish lime.

The list below are variations of a standard margarita -

Gold Margarita

Same as Standard Margarita or Alt, just substitute the Blanco Tequila with Gold Tequila, i.e. Sauza Gold or 1800

Grand Gold Margarita

Same as Gold Margarita, just substitute the Cointreau with Grand Marnier (more golden-color).

Blue Margarita

Same as Standard Margarita or Alt, but substitute triple sec/Cointreau with Blue Curacao. Add splash of pineapple juice (optional)

Cadillac Margarita/El Dorado

Same as Grand Gold Margarita, but add ½ oz of Chambord and use 50/50 lemon sour and orange juice.

- See more at: http://www.tailsfromthebarstool.com/blog/seasonal-spotlight-national-mar...