Some say bartender Carlos “Danny” Herrera invented the Margarita for the beautiful dancer and actress Marjorie King (who was allergic to all spirits save tequila). Others claim that Dallas socialite Margarita Sames invented the drink for Tommy Hilton at her vacation home in Acapulco, and he put the drink on the menu at all his hotels. Still others lay the Margarita at the feet of Santos Cruz at the Balinese Room in Galveston, Texas. As the story goes, he created a “special” tequila and lime cocktail for the famous singer Peggy (Margaret) Lee. What we do know for sure is that the first published recipe appeared in 1953 in Esquire magazine and that it is a downright delicious drink. In our philosophy, the Margarita should elevate tequila rather than hiding it under a bunch of sweeteners. Consequently, we like Julio Bermejo’s version (also known as the Tommy’s Margarita), which swaps out Triple Sec for agave syrup.
Mix it Up
There is not enough space on the internet to detail the bajillion Margarita variations out there, but we’ll highlight a few of our favorites. Tamarind syrup works great in place of agave syrup. Strawberries or other fresh berries are delicious muddled straight into the drink, or made into syrups and added along with the agave. Fresh herbs give the drink an added aromatic quality when muddled into the drink or infused into the tequila. You can also mix the Margarita up in a blender instead of shaking it (just add half a cup of crushed ice to the other ingredients). You can even get weird with the salt rim: Jalapeño salt, smoked salt and chili lime salt are all prime picks.
Bored with the classic Margarita? Does that sour pucker of fresh lime make your mouth feel like you’ve eaten an entire box of Sour Patch Kids? Meet the Margarita’s easy going cousin, the Baja Gold. The drink swaps out lime juice for fresh pineapple juice and uses a reposado tequila instead of a blanco tequila for added depth.