We looked recently at that Prince(ess?) of the tequila drinks; the Margarita. It’s history is as confusing as the myriad of different recipes. Thankfully there is a superb version of the noble Margarita that is simple and delicious and has a history that we can pin down with 100% accuracy. Perhaps the only confusion is that it wasn’t created by anyone called Tommy but by Julio Bermejo at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco back in about 1990. Well it was Julio’s parents Elmy and Tommy who had opened the place in 1965 so even that is easily straightened out.
It’s a deceptively simple drink containing only tequila, lime juice and agave syrup but consider this: Julio came up with this masterpiece of simplicity in the midst of the Dark Ages of the cocktail (1970-2000) when the Margarita was a monstrous slushy of cheap mixto tequila, sour mix and crushed ice rolling around for hours in a plastic tub which may or may not have been cleaned properly in living memory. What Julio saw – years ahead of the cocktail revival – was that high quality ingredients, simply but carefully prepared would create something immeasurably better than the commoditised restaurant drinks of the time. Julio used higher quality 100% agave tequilas such as Herradura reposado and the newly available agave syrup as well as freshly squeezed limes (that might sound like a no-brainer now but in 1990 nobody was squeezing limes) to mix his legendary Margarita that bore the name of the family business. The stripped back Margarita doesn’t need the orange liqueur component but lets you taste the wonders of agave – both in distilled and rawer form. If there was ever a drink guaranteed to convert the tequila doubters it’s this one. Better still, thanks to its simple ingredients, you can whip one of these modern classics up in a couple of minutes anytime the sun decides to show its face.*
2oz / 60ml good quality (100% agave) reposado tequila.
1oz / 30ml fresh lime juice – not more than a few hours old.
0.5oz / 15ml agave syrup.
Shake with ice and strain into desired glass: As with all Margarita variations the choice of whether to serve it “up” in a champagne coupé or strained into a tumbler of fresh ice is entirely personal – as is the salting of the rim. And garnishing with lime.
Toast Julio – and Tommy – Bermejo.
*By the way that reminds me: make sure to wash your hands extra well if squeezing limes then going out into strong sunlight as the combination can cause an unsightly (but not painful) skin burn that takes months to fade away. I’ve done it, it’s not pretty and it was making Margaritas that caused it.