Mixology 101: Margarita
Frozen, tangy fun. By Jay Chooi
Simple and unforgettable
A classic glass of Margarita is made with only three main ingredients – two ounces of tequila, one ounce of Cointreau and one ounce of lime juice. Put all three ingredients in a shaker with cracked ice, shake and then strain it into a cocktail glass rimmed with salt and lime juice. The best Margaritas are made with 100 per cent agave tequila, a plant traditionally used in the distillation of the liquor. The use of Cointreau or Triple Sec is interchangeable, but drinkers will notice the lack of a chemical aftertaste in the use of Cointreau. To morph a Margarita into a Sidecar, substitute the tequila with Brandy, lime juice with lemon, and the salt rim with sugar.
There are many obscure stories of origins surrounding the Margarita, but here is one myth we should first bust – it was not invented by the Mexicans. Mexicans do not have a culture of mixing drinks; they take their tequila straight. A story we think most plausible is this: In 1936, newspaper editor James Graham and his wife went on an odyssey in search for the legendary ‘tequila Daisy’ after the prohibition. They found Irish bartender Madden, who admits creating it by mistake after grabbing the wrong bottle. The customer asked for seconds and spread the news. Where are we going with this? The name ‘Daisy’ is ‘Margarita’ in Spanish. There you have it.
Margaritas became a fad with the Hollywood set in the golden days. Many enjoyed the Margarita and were more than eager to claim it as their own. It was cool to drink it as the tequila had attracted a reputation of being psychedelic. Most importantly, it wasn’t a Martini. Among them was socialite from the 1940s Margaret ‘Margarita’ Sames, who claimed to have invented the cocktail in 1948. Thankfully, not everyone who picks up a cocktail shaker becomes a mixologist by default. The fact that ad campaigns of Margarita had been running as early as 1945 proves Margaret wrong.
Overloaded with variety
Today, Margaritas come in dozens of versions as you will discover wading through the underbelly of KL’s bar scene. As expected, the evolution of the cocktail upsets some aficionados, who deem that Margaritas should stay true to the original recipe. They may have a point; variety comes with a price. Many restaurants, bars and clubs now rely on readymade mixes for a quick fix that is far from authentic. Some of the new flavours we found include apple, peach, mango, lychee and there’s even an espresso version. That said we have discovered several worthy variations to pacify even the strictest of purists. You be the judge.
Here are three spots in KL to catch unusual versions of the Margarita.