National Margarita Day: Imbibe’s pick of alternative Margaritas

Millie Milliken

Millie Milliken

21 February 2020

Classic, Tommy’s, frozen: the Margarita has many faces. The origins of this tequila cocktail are oft-debated, but cocktail historian David Wondrich says in his book, Imbibe (yep, we know), that the Margarita evolved from The Daisy (tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and soda), a popular drink in the US during the 1930s and 40s – and surely no coincidence as ‘margarita’ translates directly to the name of the small white flower in Spanish.

In the 21st-century, the classic recipe calls for blanco tequila, lime juice and orange liqueur, served in a salt-rimmed glass. And with the rising popularity of agave spirits in the UK (hello, mezcal) the Margarita is as relevant now as it ever was, with variations aplenty. In celebration of National Margarita Day (22 February) Imbibe has picked out some of the best in the UK, from mezcal-spiked serves to translucent creations.


Mirror Margarita Largarita, Hacha, London

Deano Moncrieffe (ex-Diageo Reserve European tequila brand ambassador) has created a little bit of magic in his bar Hacha, which opened in early 2019. The Mirror Margarita, which mixes blanco tequila, malic acid, cane syrup and a spritz of Cointreau and grapefruit tincture, is completely translucent, is lighter than most Margaritas and is perfectly balanced to accentuate the herbal notes in the blanco.

For National Margarita Day, Moncrieffe has created four variations on his original too: a mezcal version, a Highball, a Largarita and a barrel-aged iteration. Imbibe’s favourite was the Mirror Margarita Largarita (left). Made using a beer reduction, the light lager taste comes through later in the drink, meaning that the tequila remains at the forefront. And served in a Nick & Nora glass, it is far daintier than its name suggests. ‘This was more challenging than anything I’ve made before,’ said Moncrieffe when we went to try it. His hard work has seriously paid off.


Tamarind Margarita, Masa + Mezcal, Bristol

Bristol’s Masa + Mezcal has given the city an exciting injection of agave specialism since it opened in mid-2019. Its back bar displays a huge range of mezcals, from Espadin and Cupreata to Cuixe and Pechuga. They can be found in the bar’s Mezcal Library, but tequila is on the menu too in the form of Margaritas.

The Tamarind Margarita comprises El Jimador Blanco, tamarind, hibiscus and orange salt and is a refreshing twist on the classic. The tang of the tamarind is the ideal balancer for the sweetness in the drink, the hibiscus gives it a floral character, while the orange salt is refreshing and provides a strong hit on the nose. We hear that Masa + Mezcal has made its neighbouring bars up their agave game – yet another reason to take a drinking trip to Bristol.


FAM Margarita, FAM Bar, London 

Megs Miller, owner of FAM Bar on London’s Duke Street, loves tequila. So, obviously, her FAM Margarita was always going make a list of our favourites. This one stands out for its use of a blend of highland and lowland agave spirits, namely Altos Plata, Ocho Blanco and Fortaleza Reposado.

‘One of my favourite moments in Mexico was on Mexican Independence Day a few years ago at a friend's family restaurant, El Tigre,’ Miller told us. ‘There were many tequileros at the table and everyone brought tequila to share. However as the day was about sharing with friends and family, they blended all the different brands into a pitcher. This to me shows what tequila & Mexican hospitality is all about. Our FAM Margarita was inspired by that day.’ 


Watermelon & Pink Guava Frozen Margarita, Crazy Pedros, Manchester

The cool kids at Lyndon Higginson’s Crazy Pedros are the epitome of fun, and drinks don’t get much more fun than frozen Margaritas. Alongside their substantial list of agave cocktails is one dedicated to the serve, titled Frozen Margz (lolz).

All contain El Jimador Blanco, Giffard triple sec and Supasaw and there are eight different flavour combinations to choose from – plus the classic. There’s the likes of Raspberry & Balsamic and Mango & Pink Peppercorn, but the Pink Guava & Watermelon is a firm favourite. Sweet, but dangerously quaffable –just as frozen Margaritas should be.


Rhubarb & Ginger Margarita, Tredwells, London

Michelin-star winning and Masterchef: The Professionals’ Marcus Wareing and Margaritas might not sound like a classic combination, but the bar at his Seven Dials restaurant Tredwells (a more relaxed version of the chef’s other restaurants) counts its Rhubarb & Ginger Margarita as one of its best sellers.

Combining Ocho Blanco Tequila, rhubarb, ginger, lime, pink grapefruit and rhubarb bitters, the drink is served in a long-stemmed coup, giving this pitcher-friendly cocktail a fine-dining twist. With the kitchen at Tredwells putting particular focus on individual ingredients and seasonality, this cocktail is a reflection of the bar team's creativity when it comes to celebrating clean and classic flavours.


El Jarrito, Mezcal Cantina Bar, London

This award-winning Mexican restaurant in Dalston has an entire ‘Margarita Heaven’ list on its drinks menu. Its El Jarrito feels particularly authentic. Meaning ‘little jug’ it is served in, you guessed it, a small ceramic jug, with the rim coated in the house ‘chile pequin’ – a hot chilli pepper found in south-west America.

El Jarrito uses mezcal as its spirit of choice and mixes it with fresh passion fruit, mango, orange, pineapple, fresh lime and sugar syrup, and is topped with ginger beer.


 

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