Ah, the Margarita… A simple mix of tequila, lime juice and triple sec, this piquant, thirst-quenching cocktail is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and a celebration of its base spirit to boot.
Served straight up in a fancy cocktail glass, or down and on the rocks, this is a drink for any occasion, from relaxed alfresco sundowners at home to parties and gatherings.
One word about the recipe, however (see below). While the traditional cocktail calls for triple sec to be used as the modifier, a twist on the classic has become so popular – especially amongst bartenders – that it is usurping the original recipe.
This twist is called a Tommy’s Margarita, and it calls for the triple sec to be switched out for agave syrup instead. The richness of flavour of the syrup really amps up the agave flavours in the tequila, producing a moreish, well-rounded cocktail that leaves you clamouring for more.
How to make a classic Margarita
Glass: Cocktail glass or rocks glass
Garnish: Salt rim and lime wedge
Method: Sprinkle a few teaspoons of salt over a small plate. Rub a wedge of lime along the rim of your glass and then dip it into the salt so that the entire rim is covered. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add the tequila, lime juice and triple sec. Shake until your hands feel cold. Strain into your prepared glass; if you’re using a rocks glass, fill it with fresh ice and garnish with a wedge of lime.
Ingredients: 50ml tequila, 25ml lime juice, 20ml triple sec (eg Cointreau)
How to make a Tommy’s Margarita
Glass: Rocks glass
Garnish: Lime wedge
Method: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add the tequila, lime juice and agave syrup. Shake until your hands feel cold. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a wedge of lime.
Ingredients: 50ml tequila, 25ml lime juice, 12.5ml agave syrup
Best tequila for a Margarita: Eight to try
While the majority of tequila is produced in the state of Jalisco, some municipalities in other states are also allowed to make this spirit. One of these other states is Guanajuato, and this is where Corralejo is based. Its Blanco is a creamy, citrusy tequila with flavours of lime zest, agave syrup, zippy white pepper, pencil shavings and vanilla, which accentuate the lime and agave flavours in a Margarita. Alc 38%
Don Julio Blanco
A classic blanco tequila, this earthy agave-forward spirit lends itself well to Margaritas, boasting lemon and lime zest, spicy black pepper, vanilla and pastry flavours. The reason behind its distinctive squat bottle design is a functional as well as aesthetic one – you can keep it on the dinner table without it obscuring the view of your dining companions. Alc 38%
El Sueno Gold
A relatively new brand, El Sueno is a mixto tequila, meaning it is not only made with agave, but with other sugars too. Mixtos have a bad reputation, but El Sueno’s owners want to challenge that with their high-quality spirit. The Gold is aged in oak for two months, and it boasts a moreish palate of orange juice, lemon peel, sea grass, agave and spearmint. Alc 38%
El Tequileno Blanco
El Tequileno may be a newcomer to the UK market, however the brand was actually founded in 1959. Made with volcanic spring water and agave from the highlands of Jalisco, the Blanco is a tequila of two halves: zippy and fresh up front, before the palate takes a deeper turn with toast, brown butter, marmalade and banana chips. Alc 38%
The sizeable yet beautiful Herradura distillery has a host of fruit trees in its grounds, near to its open-topped fermenters, which allows natural yeasts from the trees to float in and kickstart the fermentation process. Its Plata is a great cocktail tequila, with sweet agave flavours, orange oils, almonds and vanilla all found on the palate. Alc 40%
Olmeca Altos Plata
Created by master distiller Jesús Hernández in collaboration with two leading bartenders, Olmeca Altos is a perfect tequila for mixed drinks. A grassy, floral tequila, with notes of spring blossom, limestone and lemon and lime, it makes a sublime, complex and refreshing Margarita. Alc 38%
Made by the inimitable Carlos Camarena at his distillery in the Highlands of Jalisco, this Blanco tequila is a great cocktail all-rounder. Clear agave characters sing through, combined with Camarena’s signature peppery, spicy notes of white pepper and clove. A gentle sweetness and pleasing citrus bouquet lend themselves well to Margaritas. Alc 40%
From the same owners as El Sueno, Vivir is contract-distilled at Casa Maestri, a fifth generation-owned distillery in Jalisco. Its premium range of 100% agave tequilas are made using sustainable practices and its estate-grown agave. The Blanco is an iron fist of agave in a velvet glove, with sweet angel cake and liquorice root carried on a fresh, chalky body. Alc 40%