The Five Minute Margarita Lesson

With Cinco de Mayo on our horizon next week, a quick lesson on the drink a majority will be ordering and/or mixing.

As with many other cocktails, the history and actual creator of the margarita has been clouded by time. Some argue a wealthy Texas socialite invented it; others claimed it was a concocted by a bartender in Juarez Mexico in the 1930s. It has been argued, it was derived from a drink called a Daisy or, others say, a tequila version of The Sidecar. Despite such confusion on the history, it is the most popular tequila cocktail. The margarita, some also say, is the most palatable way to drink tequila.

When ordering a margarita, be on the lookout for a few very important ingredients that will signal you are getting a superior cocktail. You can make a fantastic fresh margarita right in your kitchen with just a few ingredients. The basic margarita is shockingly simple: tequila, triple sec and lime Juice. The choices you make when choosing these ingredients is what will elevate your cocktail.

Fresh lime juice is a must. Beware of recipes with sour mix – this is powdered chemicals. Limes may be pricey at the moment, but spare a couple of bucks. Buy fresh limes & squeeze them just a couple of hours before making your cocktails. The fresh citrus alone will make a huge difference in your margarita from what you order in a 32-ounce guzzle glass from a chain restaurant.

Cinnamon Tamarind Margarita, Straw Hat Barmen Speciality Handcrafted Cocktail

Cinnamon Tamarind Margarita, Straw Hat Barmen Handcrafted Cocktail 2014.

Cointreau is smoother than triple sec for a light orange flavor. However, do not pass by other brands of orange liqueurs to try. There are several budget brands available that are quite good. Beware of your basic, bottom shelf, bargain brand of triple sec. Again, you will be dealing with artificial flavors of a chemical makeup that will be apparent in your finished cocktail.

Your tequila choice is another variable. You can use Blanco, Reposado or Anejo varieties. Each will impart a unique character to your cocktail.

Blanco tequila offers some peppery notes and just a hint of citrus. A less expensive brand of Blanco may have a slightly earthy flavor (not necessarily a bad thing.) In general, a margarita made with Blanco tequila will be lighter in color & taste.

Reposado tequila will have a spicier flavor. It will have a stronger wood cask flavor. You may also notice flavors of vanilla or honey. These flavors impart a much warmer, more flavorful cocktail. This can make for a more complex flavored margarita; this is a good thing! Keep your taste buds tantalized and not sugar-shocked.

Finally, Anjeo tequila will offer the most pronounced and rich flavors. The cask wood element will be apparent along with spice notes. Depending on the aging, you may ask notice vanilla, caramel & butterscotch flavors. Normally Anjeo is not used in margaritas, but it never hurts to experiment to come up with your own specialty cocktail.

The Straw Hat Barmen have a Cinnamon Tamarind Margarita to offer this Cinco De Mayo. We used Leyenda del Milagro Anjeo Tequila for a rich woody flavor. This bold tequila choice can stand up to the tamarind and not get lost. This offsets the sweetness from the Tamarind. We used both lime juice & lemon juice for a tart twist. Garnished with a cinnamon stick to spice things up. Be adventurous with your flavor choice. Don’t be afraid to stray off the normal list of flavor choices. Expand your flavor horizons!


– Christina Jordan, Straw Hat Barmen

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