5 recipes to help you celebrate National Margarita Day
Raise a salt-rimmed glass — Thursday is National Margarita Day.
A popular drink year-round, margaritas are essentially tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice.
According to “The Essential Bar Book” by spirit and culinary expert Jennifer Fiedler, the margarita was invented as early as the 1930s, but it became popular in the 1950s once Esquire magazine featured it as the Cocktail of the Month.
Since then, margaritas have evolved to mean any drink with the basics of tequila and citrus juice. Tart, sweet, sour, smoky, even spicy are common ways bartenders whip up margs, and many Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurants may offer an entire menu of margarita varieties.
Eddie Vargas, manager of El Barzón restaurant in Southwest Detroit, says that while margaritas have always been popular, the way some bartenders are making them now with fresh juices and higher quality tequilas make them more like craft cocktails.
“When you can get fresher ingredients, that’s when it becomes a better quality margarita and people will admire them more,” he said. “The way I craft margaritas is using a lot of citrus, obviously, using fresh herbs, vegetables, fruits and homemade syrups and homemade bitters.”
For El Barzón, Vargas has developed a list of more than a dozen signature margaritas. He makes his own mixers from scratch, like citrus-agave juice, rose petal syrup and jalapeno bitters.
“The original margarita is always going to be there ... tequila is such a diverse spirit that using citrus and tequila is basically a margarita, but you can execute it in different ways.”
Vargas says these days people have a better understanding of the many varieties of tequila. He explains that blanco or white tequilas are younger. Reposado tequila has “rested” few months to a year, and añejo is aged even longer, at least one year. Vargas says the longer they’ve rested, the smoother the taste.
El Barzón is participating in Detroit Restaurant Week through Sunday, and still has tables available Thursday or beyond for those who want to stop in to celebrate National Margarita Day.
Any bar or restaurant with a decent tequila selection will be a good place to enjoy the citrus cocktail.
Metro Detroit El Charro restaurants offer margarita flights for those who can’t choose. Diners can pick from three options — for example: classic, strawberry and watermelon — and have them served at once as three small cocktails.
Armando’s Mexican restaurant in Detroit has a build-your-own margarita menu, letting diners choose which brand and style of tequila to start with and adding options like rock or frozen, house mix or top shelf, salt or no salt. The late-night hangout also offers flavored syrups like strawberry, peach and mango.
For Thursday’s just-for-fun holiday, participating Bahama Breeze locations are serving the classic lime version for $2.22. The national chain has teamed up with Sophi nail polish to give away margarita-inspired nail polish to the first 100 guests on Thursday.
The Caribbean-themed restaurants offer 10 types of margaritas, including the Mighty Blood Orange Rita, which is made for two people at $19.99 per goblet.
You don’t have to go to a restaurant to celebrate National Margarita Day, either. We’ve got some recipes from Vargas and other spirit experts to inspire your home mixology skills.
Note: A margarita need not be rimmed with salt to be authentic, but it is an easy thing to do even at home. Wet the rim with a lime wedge, and dip into salt that’s been poured into a tray or small dish.
Different takes on this include wetting just half of the glass, or mixing other spices in with the salt for added flavor and color. Sometimes sweeter margs have sugared rims. Granulated sugar, brown sugar or even confectioners sugar will work.
Margarita Classic: El Hefe
Recipe courtesy of Eddie Vargas of El Barzón Restaurante. Find this cocktail on their Detroit cocktails menu, $12.
1.5 ounces Cabresto Añejo
1 ounce Grand Marnier
2.5 ounces of lemon juice from a grilled lemon with some agave nectar
Salt the rim of a snifter glass with kosher salt and add fresh ice. The bigger the cubes, the better, as Vargas says, you don’t want to dilute that añejo. Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Drain over the glass with fresh ice. Garnish with char-grilled lemon that’s been squeezed.
Herbal: Petalo de Rosa
Recipe courtesy of Eddie Vargas of El Barzón Restaurante. Find this cocktail on their signature margarita menu, $11.
1.5 ounces of Cabresto Reposado
.5 ounce triple sec
1 ounce rose pedal syrup
2 ounces of lime juice, lemon juice, agave nectar blend
3 long strips of cucumber peeled longways with a vegetable peeler
Pour Cabresto in a shaker with 2 strips of cucumber and muddle together until cucumber is broken apart and infused into the tequila. Add triple sec, juices and syrups and shake. Pour all into a chilled wine glass ice, without straining. Garnish with third cucumber strip and dried rose petals.
Spicy: Ancho Verde Margarita
Recipe courtesy of Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur.
1 part Ancho Reyes Verde
1 part Milagro Silver Tequila, or your favorite silver tequila
1 part freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/3 part agave nectar
Shake hard all ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass with a salted rim. Garnish with lime wedge or wheel.
Tart ‘n’ Fruity: La Margarita
Recipe courtesy of Patrón Tequila via Jorge Ortega of Los Angeles, California.
1.5 ounce Patrón Resposado
.75 ounce Patrón Citronge Orange
1 ounce lime juice
.5 ounce lychee syrup (blend a can of peeled/pitted lychees in a blender until liquified, then strain through a mesh strainer)
.5 ounce ginger syrup
Whole lychee for garnish
Combine all liquids in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Rim a glass with a blend of chia seeds and kosher salt, and add fresh ice. Strain contents of shaker into glass.
Smoky: Smoked Sea Salt Margarita
Recipe courtesy of Patrón Tequila.
1.5 ounce Patrón Silver
.5 ounce fresh lime juice
.5 ounce pineapple juice
.5 ounce agave nectar
1 pinch of smoked paprika
Smoked sea salt
Run a lime wedge along the rim of glass and coat it in the smoke sea salt. Put all other ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake and strain over fresh ice in the rimmed glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and a light dusting of smoked paprika.
This cocktail was named Patrón’s Margarita of the Year in 2015. You can find smoked sea salt and smoked paprika in the spice aisle (McCormick makes both).