For National Margarita Day

Your cocktail calendar entry for: February
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Today we’re mixing a Margarita.  After all, February 22 is National Margarita Day so it’s a natural fit.

Now before we get into the history or familial relations of this well-known drink let’s ask a question:  how many of you immediately envision a simple, shaken three-ingredient cocktail, no blender, no strawberries, no flavored tequilas, no cranberry juice, no bizarre floats?  Please raise your hands.  Today we’re going to describe an original-style Margarita recipe.

History of the Margarita

As we have noted on other occasions the history of many cocktails is clouded by conflicting claims of invention.  Let’s face it, drunkards aren’t the best at recording history and the Margarita is no exception.   One story is that Carlos Herrera invented it at his Tijuana restaurant Rancho La Gloria around 1938.  Some wealthy Dallas socialite named Margarita Sames also made a claim to it, saying it happened at her Acapulco vacation home in 1948.  Since Margaret, and Margarita, is not exactly an uncommon name, all these stories revolve around the drink being eponymous with a specific woman.  It’s all rubbish.

The Margarita is really just a variation on a popular Mexican drink, the Daisy.  And, by the way, you might note that margarita is Spanish for, you guessed it, “daisy.”  Daisies are a family of cocktails that include a base spirit, a liqueur and citrus – exactly what’s in a Margarita – plus a splash of soda water.

Note also that this is just the formula for a sour – one of the oldest families of cocktails.  It doesn’t matter whether one uses sugar, agave syrup or a sweet liqueur – you mix a base spirit with a citrus juice and a sweetening agent and it’s a sour.  Whiskey Sour, Sidecar, Daiquiri, Caipirinha, Pisco Sour, Aviation, Gin Sour….you name it, they’re all just variations on the same theme.  It’s a family, and a Daisy is just what we mix for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday.  The Margarita is just the family member using tequila as its base spirit.

How to make a Margarita

The classic Margarita recipe is straightforward enough, it’s an ordinary shaken drink usually served over ice.  But getting the balance between sweet and sour is important.  The orange liqueur used is one of the keys.  Our recipe, like many, calls for Cointreau.  But Triple Sec, which is also commonly used, tends to be a bit more sweet.

Our suggestion is to add a quarter ounce of simple syrup if you use Cointreau to, as bartenders say, “fatten it up.”  If your palate leans dry you can skip this, but most folks will find the drink better balanced with the simple syrup.

Salt on the glass is another matter of personal taste.  Our recommendation is to salt half the rim.  Everybody can be happy.

While we’re on the subject of tequila, it has at times been approached with skepticism.  In 1897 a Scientific American reporter wrote that “mezcal is described as tasting like a mixture of gasoline, gin and electricity.  Tequila is even worse, and is said to incite murder, riot and revolution.”  We do not share this opinion.




Our Margarita recipe is of the original style: an offshoot of a cocktail family known as a Daisy and landing firmly in the camp of sours. To ensure you have a well balanced drink we advise the quarter ounce of simple syrup if using Cointreau, but against if if you're using a particularly sweet triple sec. Either way, it's whatever you like, whether your palate leans dry or sweet.
5 from 1 vote


  • Lime wedge
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 oz Tequila
  • ¾ oz Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • ¾ oz Fresh lime juice
  • ¼ oz Simple syrup optional, see note


  • Rub the lime wedge along the upper half inch of a double Old Fashioned glass, halfway around the circumference.
  • Roll wet portion of glass rim in salt thereby salting half the rim.
  • Add ice to glass, preferably a single large cube.
  • Add all other ingredients to your trusty cocktail shaker.
  • Shake until frosty cold.
  • Strain into prepared glass.
  • There is no garnish.
  • Drink.
  • Rinse and repeat.


Calories: 221kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 0.1gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.02gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.02gSodium: 7mgPotassium: 37mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 11IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 0.3mg


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