The sweet, sour, and salty Margarita is one of the world’s most popular cocktails. What began as a 1950s novelty — complete with conflicting cocktail origination lore — the tangy drink gradually became what we now know as a standard Margarita: tequila, lime juice, triple sec (to mask the taste of low-grade “mixto” tequila), and a salt rim on a stemmed glass. In the 1980s tequila became more refined when 100% agave replaced sugar cane in the distillation process, greatly benefitting straight sips and the ever-popular Margarita. Many alternate versions were created by mixologists experimenting with flavors to enhance new and improved tequila instead of cloaking it.
Today’s connoisseur-worthy joven, reposado, and anejo tequilas continue ameliorate, and inspire mixologists, many of whom create entire cocktail menus around agave tequilas and its smoky cousin, mezcal. For National Margarita Day, beverage director Maxwell Reis introduced his Clarified Margarita to the new bar menu at Gracias Madre in West Hollywood, California. “This margarita is more of a tip of the hat to a good ole Roses lime gimlet than a traditional margarita,” Reis says. “My Clarified Margarita is a cocktail you sip and take seriously. Plus, it’s pretty! It’s a really fun foray into technique and exploring how we perceive texture in cocktails.”
The Patron St-Rita is an elegant variation on the beloved classic, elevated by the bright elderflower dash of St. Germain. The Devil’s Margarita adds a sommelier’s touch with a float of red wine. One Night in Jalisco mystifies with its use of Crystal Head Onyx, a new category of spirit made from agave that sips like vodka. Which of the new breed of tequila and mezcal margaritas catch your fancy? Find out by taste-testing these crafty new twists, created by expert mixologists and tequila masters from some of Mexico’s finest distilleries.
Patron St. Rita
1 oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1 ½ oz. Patron Silver Tequila
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
Directions: Fill a shaker with ice, add all ingredients, and shake. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Salt rim is optional.
1 ⅓ oz Volcán de mi Tierra Blanco
1 oz fresh lime juice
⅔ oz simple syrup
⅔ oz fruity red wine
Directions: Pour tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup into a shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a stemmed glass and slowly pour the red wine into the drink using a bar spoon.
One Night in Jalisco
2 oz. Crystal Head Onyx
¾ oz. Fresh Lime Juice
¾ oz. Simple Syrup
Directions: Garnish a rocks glass with coarse salt rim. In a cocktail shaker, add Crystal Head Onyx, lime juice, simple syrup, jalapeno and cilantro. Muddle ingredients, then add ice and shake. Double strain into rocks glass with ice. Garnish with cilantro.
Dos Hombres Mezcal Margarita
Created by Aaron Paul & Bryan Cranston, dos hombres from “Breaking Bad.”
2 oz. Dos Hombres Mezcal
.50 oz. Agave sweetener (optional)
.75 oz. Fresh lime juice
1 oz. Cointreau
Directions: Add all ingredients into a mixing tin with ice. Shake and strain into a large rocks glass rimmed with sugar and salt for a sweet touch, or salt and chili powder to kick up the spice.
Ilegal Mezcal Passionfruit Marg
Created by Joe Mele, GM and Beverage Director at Coastal Kitchen + Daiquiri Bar, Long Island, NY.
1.5 oz Ilegal Joven
.75 oz agave
.75 oz lime
.75 oz fresh passionfruit syrup
Directions: Fill shaker tin with ice, add all ingredients and shake until tin is cold to the touch. Strain into a rocks glass with a Tajin rim.
Spicy Strawberry Margarita
1.5 oz. Tres Agaves Organic 100% de Agave Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz. Chili Liqueur
3 oz. Tres Agaves Organic Strawberry Margarita Mix
Directions: Build ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add chili liqueur, strawberry margarita mix, and tequila. Give a healthy shake and strain into a rocks-filled Collins glass with a black-salted rim.