What Makes a Real Margarita?

The margarita: a drink almost synonymous with college parties and beach tourists. But did you know this drink is actually a little bit more sophisticated than you might realize? The modern margarita has been significantly altered from what it was originally, and the kind you find on drink specials at local restaurants isn’t really the same thing as a real, true margarita. So what goes into a real margarita? What’s the purest form of this drink, and what are some variations that are acceptable among margarita connoisseurs? In this article, you’ll learn about the history of the margarita as well as just what makes this drink stand out in a classic way.

History of the Margarita

As with most classic cocktails, it’s hard to say precisely when the margarita was invented or who is responsible for its creation. However, there are several takes on the story as well as a few solid facts that can help margarita fans better understand where their favorite cocktail might have come from.
• During Prohibition, United States residents living near the border with Mexico often went out of the country in search of alcoholic beverages. In doing so, they began making the Daisy (a popular bourbon cocktail at the time) with tequila instead of brandy, and so the margarita was born. Margarita, in fact, means “daisy.”
• Another version of the story says the margarita was created by Carlos Herrera in 1938. In this story, the drink was made for a favorite customer and regular who was allergic to many cocktail ingredients but could safely drink tequila.
• In yet another version, the margarita was invented by Francisco Morales in 1942 at his bar in Chihuahua.
Jose Cuervo, a well-known tequila label, states that the margarita was invented by a bartender in 1938 and that the name comes from that of a showgirl, Rita de la Rosa.
• Wherever the margarita may have originated, it was first written and published as an official recipe in 1953 in Esquire magazine. The drink took off during this time and quickly spread across the United States and around the world, and it has remained one of the most popular and beloved cocktails ever since. We may never know where it came from, but the future of the margarita is bright.

Classic Margarita Recipe

So what goes into a classic margarita, anyway? There are so many different variations, styles, flavors, and mixing methods out there, it can be tough to narrow down the precise measurements and ingredients that make a margarita a true margarita.

When you want to make one of these cocktails like it was originally intended, however, there is a specific ratio you should look for. According to the International Bartenders Association, that ratio is 7:4:3, with tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice as the ingredients.
But what does that look like in practice? Check out this recipe to find out:

• 1.5 ounces silver/Blanco tequila
• 1-ounce orange liqueur
• ½ lime juice, freshly squeezed
• Salt
• Lime wedges
• Cut a lime wedge and run it along the rim of your glass, then dip the glass in the salt to coat the rim.
• Fill the glass with ice and set it to the side to chill while you prepare your drink.
• In a cocktail shaker, combine the tequila with orange liqueur and lime juice.
• Seal and shake for about 10 seconds until well mixed together.
• Strain into the prepared glass, either over the ice or after removing the ice.
• Serve garnished with a lime wedge.

Blended or On the Rocks?

Those who love margaritas usually prefer them one of two ways: blended or on the rocks. But which one is correct? Or are both of these methods of margarita creation more or less the same? Here’s some information to keep in mind the difference between the two:

• When a margarita is served on the rocks, the liquid is poured over ice cubes in the glass, leaving the ice whole.
• When a margarita is served blended, the ice is mixed into the liquid with a blender, creating a slushy-like consistency.
• If you like the taste of the lime or other citrus ingredients primarily as your favorite element of the margarita, you’re probably better off sticking to the on-the-rocks variation. In this version, you’ll be able to taste all the ingredients more clearly, and the lime will stand out at the forefront of the drink’s flavor.
• If, on the other hand, you like your drink to taste sweet first and to bring all the other flavors into play afterward, you might prefer a blended margarita. Blended margaritas have a much subtler taste and tend to come off as just fruity and sweet.
• Blended margaritas often don’t have as much alcohol content as on the rocks margaritas do. This is because blended margaritas are usually made as a big batch rather than one drink at a time.
• You might want to reach for a blended margarita when you’re very hot, such as when you’re relaxing on the beach. On the rocks margaritas, however, are actually less likely to melt quickly due to the science behind the ice cubes. So on the rocks might be the best choice when you’re kicking back and relaxing in the sun!
• In the end, the choice is really up to your personal preference. Choose the margarita style and flavor you like best and enjoy it!

Now that you’ve had a chance to check out more information about the margarita, you may be ready to make one for yourself! If you’ve never tried a classic margarita prepared the “real” way, do yourself a favor and sample one sometime soon. You may find that you love it—but you might also hate it. And if so, that’s okay! Many people enjoy the overly sweet, fruity varieties of margaritas that have become popular on beaches and in restaurants around the country, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just remember, no matter which kind of margarita you choose to sip, to think of where this drink came from and how it became so popular in the first place.

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