Margarita’s still on top, but can she stay there?
The margarita remains our favorite order at the bar, according to the Cheers On-Premise BARometer Handbook, but the drink’s popularity may be waning. What’s to blame for this horror? Margarita mix? Frozen margarita machines? The very things that made margaritas ubiquitous? Maybe. Or maybe the margarita as we know it is simply being overwhelmed by a thirst for quality and creativity.
“Both the margarita and martini have declined in popularity due to the rise of one-of-a-kind signature drinks,” the handbook, which reports trends in bars, restaurants and other places alcohol is served, dryly reports. Other details from the press release: bartenders are still pouring more Chardonnay than any other wine varietal, Corona is the No. 1 imported beer brand and Grey Goose toppled Absolut as the best-selling spirits call brand.
But back to the margarita. The switch to signature cocktails may not be an entirely bad thing for the drink, if it means ditching the mix and instead shaking up some 100 percent blue agave tequila, a high-end triple sec like Cointreau or Gran Marnier and fresh-squeezed lime juice. The creative love doesn’t stop there, though. The pile of new drinks books on my desk includes margaritas made with everything from honey, cranberry juice, peaches and blood oranges to roasted jalapeños and poblanos, tamarind pulp, aloe vera juice, ginger liqueur and prosecco.
If you’re feeling adventurous, check out Joanne Weir’s Tequila: A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails, and Bites. The book starts with a straightforward backgrounder on tequila, and then follows with recipes for cocktails (there are four margaritas) and yummy things to eat with them. Grover and Scarlet of TasteTequila.com also offer plenty of insight. Both had this riff on the basic margarita:
The Margarita: 1-1/2 ounces 100 percent agave tequila, 3/4 ounce agave nectar, 3/4 ounce water, 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 lime slice for garnish. Combine tequila, agave nectar, water and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled partway with ice. Shake vigorously for 5 seconds, and then strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a slice of lime.