Posted February 21, 2014

National Margarita Day

Eat + Drink

Ah, agave … it just wouldn’t be Margarita Day without you. Photo: Mark Hiss

Some say she’s from Baja California, others from Acapulco. There are those who are certain the El Paso–Juárez border region was her original stomping ground. Whatever her mysterious origins, what’s certain is that since the 1940s wherever this gal goes a party is sure to follow.

So it’s time to chase away those winter doldrums with a little Latin flavor and get prepared to celebrate National Margarita Day on Saturday, Feb. 22, with the tart Tequila concoction Esquire magazine described in 1953 as “lovely to look at, exciting and provocative.”

We’ll help you get the fiesta rolling with our resident spirit guide, Kimpton Lead Bartender Jacques Bezuidenhout. We asked Jacques for a primer on Tequila and Margaritas (his Twitter handle is @LoveTequila), and just for good measure he threw in a couple of sure-fire recipes, too.

¡Salud!

Jacques Bezuidenhout

Q: Blanco, Añejo and Reposado Tequila. What are the differences?

A: Blanco is Tequila that has not been aged in any oak barrels. Reposado means the Tequila is aged anywhere from two months to less than a year. Añejo means the Tequila is aged for a minimum of a year and under three years. Extra Añejo means that the Tequila is aged for a minimum of three years and up.

Q: Does it matter which goes into your Margarita?

A: Normally we use Blanco Tequila as it’s bright and the pure expression of Tequila, and it really shows through all that citrus. I don’t mind using Reposado or Añejo Tequilas as they make for a different experience. The two most important things, though, are using only fresh-squeezed lime juice (bottled sour mixes should be illegal) and 100-percent agave Tequila. Life is too short to drink cheap Tequila.

Q: There are a bunch of different stories about the creation of the Margarita, including one involving Rita Hayworth. Do you know who invented the Margarita?

A: There are several stories and none of them are really accurate; the dates are all over the place. They’re tall tales told by the characters that claim to have invented it. There is no chronicled story of where it was invented. It could have been anyone. For now, I will stake claim to inventing the Marg.

Q: Mezcal has a high profile now. What’s the difference between Tequila and mezcal?

A: There are many differences. Tequila is mainly produced in the Mexican state of Jalisco and mezcal is mainly produced in the state of Oaxaca. With Tequila you can only use the blue agave variety to produce Tequila. With Mezcal you can choose from 28 different styles of agave. One of the key differences is that the agave hearts in Tequila production are normally cooked in stone ovens, while in mezcal production they are cooked in stone pits in the ground, which sometimes leads to a hint of smokiness in the mezcal. Remember, life is too short to drink cheap Tequila … or mezcal. At the end of the day they are both delicious. Source quality producers and pay a little more for a better product.

Q: What are some of your favorite brands for making Margaritas and/or drinking neat?

A: Here are some of my favorite Tequila brands. They can be used to make delicious Margaritas or to be sipped neat.

Partida Tequila

El Tesoro Tequila

Siete Leguas Tequila

… And here are two of my favorite Margarita recipes:

Tommy’s Margarita (from Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco)

2 ounces Blanco Tequila

1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

1 ounce agave nectar (cut 50/50 with water)

Shake all ingredients with ice in a shaker. Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass or up into a chilled glass.

Breakfast Margarita (to be enjoyed with buttered toast before 10am)

2 ounces Blanco Tequila

1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

¾ ounce Cointreau

¼ ounce agave nectar (cut 50/50 with water)

2 bar spoons orange marmalade or jam of choice

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

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