History & 2 Recipes for Margarita Cocktail
Margarita Cocktail Recipe
The Margarita is steeped in history, american culture and loved around the world. One of the most popular cocktail recipes ever invented, the margarita has a debatable beginning. Most of the stories date back to around the mid-30s, to a hand full of mixologists who claim credit to the invention of the margarita.
There are really two styles of margaritas that are served around the world – the quick and dirty version you’ll likely get in clubs and the more traditional margarita recipe which includes real limes rather than sweet and sour mix / lime bar mix. To help you differentiate between the two, we’ve included both of these margarita recipes below.
Note that professional bartenders will balk at the quick and dirty recipe because lime bar mix is basically horrific, cancer-causing stuff and really has no place in real cocktails. The reason so many bars and clubs use it is because it’s easy, convenient and cheap, taking much less time to create this style of margarita vs squeezing out limes as the traditional margarita recipe calls for.
Quick and Dirty Margarita Recipe Video Tutorial
(commonly served in clubs)
Club Style Margarita Drink Recipe
What you’ll need:
- 1.5 oz any type of Tequila
- 0.5 oz Triple Sec
- Lime bar mix (sour mix)
- Cocktail or Margarita glass
- lime wedge
- saucer, small plate or rimmer
- Jigger or shot glass (for measuring)
[Video Tutorial Transcript]
All right. I’m sure you’ve seen one of these contraptions before, just tap off that salt so that you don’t make a big mess. Ice up your glass. We’re not worried about controlling dilution and stuff in a club, or say a pub scenario, you just want to get that drink out there. We’re using a generic brand of triple sec, as opposed to Cointreau, which is more than likely what you’ll be using. Here we’re going with 1.5 ounces of tequila, depending on where you’re working, it might be less. It probably won’t be more, but it certainly might be less.
And then just a generic sour mix, this could be in a big old jug that you make from powder, or it could be from a gun even. We’re just going to top it off. You’re probably going to have more ice in your glass than we might have here, we’re using a different kind of ice. And then simply garnish it with your lime wedge and get it out there.
Traditional Margarita Recipe Video Tutorial
Traditional Margarita Cocktail Recipe
- 1.5 oz Reposado Tequila
- 0.5 oz Cointreau
- 1/4 oz agave nectar
- 1 0z fresh lime juice
- Rocks glass
- lime wedge
- saucer, small plate or rimmer
- Jigger or shot glass (for measuring)
I’m going to start by preparing our glass, just get some lime juice on the outside of the glass, just half of that rim. And then we’re going to dunk it in some sea salt or kosher salt, or any kind of salt really. If you want to get experimental, you can use some Himalayan pink sea salt. It’s totally up to you. Next, we’re going to go with some agave nectar. We use agave nectar because we want to bolster the characteristics of the tequila, which is the hero of the drink and tequila is an agave spirit. So it makes sense for us to use agave nectar, to bring out those characteristics. Next, we’re going to add a full ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice.
We’re going to use Cointreau as our orange liqueur. Cointreau is simply a brand of triple sec, but it is generally considered the best and you will notice a difference in your cocktails if you use it. El Jimador Reposado tequila is probably one of the best bang for your buck Reposado tequilas out there. We use Reposado because we find it just integrates itself a little bit better than our experience with Blanco or Anejo tequilas. We’re going to add in our ice, once all the ingredients are in the cocktail, so that we can control the rate of dilution as much as possible. And then we’re going to shake.
Ice up your glass and we’re going to fine strain this. This is a choice – you don’t have to. All fine straining does is it makes the texture of the cocktail more consistent. If you don’t fine strain, you might have little ice chunks in the cocktail, which is perfectly fine, if that’s what you want.
Talking Points and History of the Margarita Cocktail
In this video, you’ll learn some of the history of the margarita as well as other tidbits of information that you can use to wow your guests. Remember that bartending is about more than just knowing how to make drinks!
[Transcript – History of Margarita]
So, you just saw us make a margarita and we are super excited about this drink.
It’s one of our favorites.
After work, we love a margarita.
That said, in this video you saw two different versions. One is the quick and dirty version, which, if you’re not a cocktail nerd or anything like that, that’s probably how you’ve seen most of them made. It’s super simple, it’s just tequila, triple sec, sweet and sour mix and a salted rim, that’s it. It’s quick. It’s dirty. You just get it out there. That said, the margarita is actually a very nuanced cocktail, as are all cocktails, but it’s an awesome drink if it’s made properly. We prefer to use reposado tequila and agave nectar. Nate, maybe you can talk about it.
Yeah. I mean, when you talk about the different types of tequila, obviously you have plata. So unrested, this is silver, this is right out of the still, it’s feisty, young, peppery. You have reposado tequila, which means rested, reposado means to rest. And that’s going to age anywhere from a couple months to six months up in Oak barrels, usually former Jack Daniels barrels, and this imparts a really lovely caramel and vanilla soft marshmallow profile to the tequila. And it’s personally our favorite. I mean, it is subjective. Some people like their margarita’s young and vibrant and citrusy and feisty. I just find that the reposado just kind of helps lend to the agave sweetener, which for sweeteners, if you have access to it, it is great to use rather than simple syrup. Agave’s just richer, it’s got that kind of honey-like consistency and it really helps kind of take on that citrus, the lime juice really well and just make a really beautiful margarita, the ones that we love anyway.
Yeah. That said, agave nectar, just a tidbit for your own personal information. A lot of health nuts are really big, “Oh, agave nectar.” It’s actually quite high in the glycemic index. So you don’t want to consume too much of it, obviously moderation is key. But yeah, it’s great. When you can match the sweetener with this sort of the characteristics that are inherent in the spirit.
If it grows together, it goes together, essentially.
Absolutely. Also we should talk about the salt rim. We always want to do half of the rim…
Just a half rim.
…because you want to give the guests the option. The other note here is that you also want it on the outside of the glass. In cocktails, we want to control the behavior as much as possible when it’s in front of the guest. And if you salt the inside of the rim, that drink is changing over time. So as it’s sitting there in front of them, the drinks getting saltier and saltier, might be good but we don’t want to take that chance.
It’s a variable that you can eliminate.
Absolutely. So that’s… I mean, traditionally it’s served on the rocks.
Some people like it up, some people like it with egg white. In the ’70’s serving a margarita with egg whites was very common. It is flexible. It will take on all those different iterations of itself. But the timeless classic, tried test and true, is on the rocks. If you guys have a really powerful blender and you want to make a really good run using the agave nectar, you’re using Cointreau or Grand Marnier, if you’re talking about a Cadillac margarita. Cadillac, when you hear that term, you’ll hear it at bars, it essentially just means swapping out the Cointreau for the Grand Marnier but there is a unique opportunity there for you to the guest which is…
Yeah, you can… This is a great chance to upsell, which, we don’t like them to make that our thing. We don’t want to always try to be upselling people, but when opportunities present themselves, I mean, if somebody wants to ball out on a cocktail, then they want the best. So offer them the opportunity. If they say, “I want to a Cadillac margarita.” So you’re stepping up the orange liquor to Grand Marnier, offer to step up the tequila as well. I mean, if you’re a full-fledged bar with a full-fledged back bar, then you definitely have some.
At least one or two different tequilas.
…you definitely have some tequilas that are better than what’s in your well and that’s a great chance to offer that to the guest.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Going with the margarita, there’s a little bit of history there, and I understand you have a tiny story about it.
Yeah. So I remember quite vividly, when I was learning about cocktails and I remember learning the margarita. I remembered reading the story on the internet about this jazz singer, Peggy Lee. She just ordered a drink without… She said, “A tequila drink without a lot of fuss in it.” Something like that. And what I loved about this story was, the bar tender simply repurposed a classic cocktail, which was the sidecar. And I love this because this is essentially what making cocktails is. You’re just kind of repurposing classics-
Dust them off a little bit.
Yeah. It’s just Mr. Potato head, just changing ingredients here, making substitutions there. So, what this bartender did, he took a sidecar, which is cognac, Cointreau, a lemon and sugar and he simply replaced all those ingredients with the exception of the Cointreau. So he replaced the cognac for tequila, he replaced the lemon for lime and he replaced the sugar for salt. And this was a great way for me to consolidate that recipe, the sidecar recipe, and also all the other drinks that are in that family. So you have white lady, kamikaze, a whole bunch of other drinks. And if you can make any one of these drinks balanced, you can make them all beautiful and balanced.
The family that he is alluding to is the family of sours. The first one, way back when, was the brandy crusta that led to the inception, again, just tweaking, modifying over the years, that led to the sidecar and nowadays the most modern iteration of the sours, the margarita, and one of the best all time.
There are many stories about who invented the margarita and why. Here are the ones Wikipedia thinks are the most commonly repeated tales of the creator of the margarita cocktail:
Barman “Willie” from Mexico City, 1934
In the employ of the Melguizo Family – Marguerite Hemery lived in the Rio Grande Valley since the 1930s and went to a restaurant in Matamoros called Los Dos Republicas. She was friends with the owner and, as the story goes, his bartender composed a special drink for her.
Danny Negrete, 1936
Ratios: 1:1:1 (33% tequila, 33% Triple Sec, 33% fresh lime juice).According to Salvador Negrete, the son of Daniel Negrete, the family story goes that Daniel opened a bar at the Garci Crispo hotel with his brother, David. The day before David’s marriage, Daniel presented the margarita as a wedding present to Margarita, his sister-in-law.It was a combination of one-third Triple Sec, one-third tequila and one-third squeezed Mexican lime juice. The drink was not blended and was served with hand-crushed ice.
Danny Herrera, 1938
In Ensenada, Mexico, Danny Herrera, a renowned Mexican bartender who worked at the Riviera del Pacifico Hotel and Casino was completely in love with Marjorie King, an American actress who hated taking tequila pure. Tequila was also the only liquor that her body could tolerate. Thus, with the intention of wooing her, Herrera used his ingenuity to bring together flavors to meet Marjorie’s tastes, until he finally found one of the world’s most famous drinks.
October, 1941 by bartender Don Carlos Orozco
He concocted the perfect mixture of equal parts tequila, Damiana (Cointreau is used now) and lime, served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass for Margarita Henkel, daughter of the German Ambassador to Mexico at Hussong’s Cantina.
Enrique Bastate Gutierrez, early 1940s
Gutierrez, who lived in Tijuana, Mexico, boasted to have created the Margarita as a homage to actress Rita Hayworth, whose real name was Margarita Cansino.Other versions of the story claim the Margarita was indeed named after the actress, but in the 1930s, before she adopted her screen name. As a teenager, Margarita Cansino worked as a dancer at the Foreign Club, in Tijuana, where she supposedly inspired a bartender.
Francisco “Pancho” Morales, 4 July 1942
A bartender, Pancho Morales invented the margarita on July 4, 1942, at a Ciudad Juárez bar named Tommy’s Place. Supposedly, a woman requested a Magnolia (brandy, Cointreau, and an egg yolk topped with Champagne). Morales was a little fuzzy on the recipe; he improvised and his ersatz creation was a big hit.
Santos Cruz, 1948
According to the promotional flyer for the legendary Balinese Room in Galveston, Texas, head bartender Santos Cruz created the Margarita for singer Peggy (Margaret) Lee in 1948. The Balinese Room was opened in 1941 and was Texas’s finest nightclub with A/C, casino gambling, superb food and drinks, and stellar entertainment until the Texas Rangers finally shut it down in 1957.
Margaret Sames, December 1948
Ratios: 2:1:1 = 4:2:2 (50% tequila, 25% Cointreau, 25% fresh lime juice). Sames, who created the drink at her Acapulco bar, gave the reason of being “close with a lot of famous hotel and restaurant people” in introducing the margarita. Sames used one part Cointreau, two parts tequila and one part lime juice for her margarita. Knowing that most people drank tequila preceded by a lick of salt, she chose to garnish her cocktail with a rim of coarse salt. Sames moved to El Paso, TX in 1958 where she was well known for her lavish parties.