For National Margarita Day, Holden Ching, the U.S. Brand Ambassador for Tequila Herradura, gives us the essentials on this popular cocktail.
1. Why is the margarita the most famous tequila-based cocktail? I’m sure if you asked that question to 10 different people, you would get 10 different answers. In my opinion, it links to a couple of different things. To start, the margarita just tastes great! The natural balance of lime (sour) with agave (sweet) pair perfectly with tequila. It also helps that during American prohibition (1920-1933), many American consumers crossed the border to Mexico in search of liquor. As tequila increased in popularity, the popularity of a “signature drink” or signature way of drinking tequila increased as well. Hence, the now famous margarita!
2. What makes a margarita unique from other tequila-based cocktails? Simplicity. A margarita can be made by anyone, anywhere, anytime—and that is what makes it so perfect. All you have to do is combine three simple ingredients: agave, lime juice and tequila! Obviously make sure you have a good tequila on hand. The margarita is also versatile – you can use fresh fruit, you can make it spicy, you can have it blended or on the rocks, with salt or without. There are endless possibilities to make the margarita your own.
3. What are the various types of tequilas you can use for a margarita? Is a certain style of tequila better than another (i.e. Silver vs. Reposado)? You can use any of the four main types, or expressions of tequila in a margarita, but that doesn’t mean you should. Margaritas were created when there was only un-aged or Silver Tequila, and being a bit of a traditionalist, I like to stick with the original use of Silver. With that said, there is nothing wrong with a Herradura Reposado Spicy Mango Margarita!
4. When is the best time of year, or season, to drink a margarita (or is there one?) Anytime is the best time (as long as you drink them in moderation of course). Fresh limes or fresh lime juice always help in making the best margarita, so we can thank Mexico’s year-round lime season for the freshest produce even during the winter months here, in the states.
5. What are some false stereotypes, or common, pre-conceived notions, of the cocktail? The biggest misconception I hear is that the quality of the tequila doesn’t really matter. The best chefs in the world always say that if you wouldn’t drink a wine, you shouldn’t use that wine to cook with, either. The same goes for tequila. Not all tequilas are made the same! The better quality of your ingredients, the more enjoyable your margarita will be.
6. How did the margarita come to be—any history behind the drink itself you can provide (where/when it originated, etc.)? I’ve heard at least five different stories in regard to the origin of the margarita, and I can’t tell that I believe any of them, actually! What I do know is that the drink rose to prominence in the late 1930s and early 1940s—more than likely as a tequila alternative to the daiquiri and daisy cocktails of that era. There are some conflicting stories surrounding the origin of the margarita, some say it was born in Mexico, while others say that it was born in southern California. We will probably never know where the first margarita came from—let’s just be happy we have it, today!
7. How did the margarita become popular in the U.S.? Any background on the rise of the cocktail, domestically? The margarita has led the way for Tequila growth in the United States over the last 80 years. Tequila brands not only promote their tequila these days, but they also use the margarita as part of their marketing. Fifty years ago, you may have only found a margarita on the menu at a Mexican restaurant, but now they are served everywhere from craft cocktail bars, to fine dining restaurants, to sports bars and everywhere in-between. The margarita is as much a part of American popular culture as anything in the spirits industry.
8. Currently, how does the margarita compare in popularity with other cocktails in the U.S.? Margarita is King, or maybe better said, margarita is the Queen of cocktails. According to the most recent surveys I have seen, the margarita is America’s most popular drink. The rise in popularity of tequila is a huge contributor to this, but as I mentioned before, and the margarita is so versatile. Most bars/restaurants have at least one or two varieties of a margarita on their menus, and who doesn’t love a few options!
9. What are some trends that have developed in more recent years with the margarita? Trends include spicy, fresh fruit or some combination of both. Spicy margaritas continue to be one of the hottest trending cocktails, while I have also seen a rise in popularity of more exotic flavors like mango, passionfruit or even the rosé margarita.
10. Anything else to add ahead of National Margarita Day, on behalf of Tequila Herradura? Share your newfound knowledge of Margaritas with your friends, and don’t forget to use only the best ingredients! At Tequila Herradura, we like to keep it simple with the delicious Horseshoe Margarita.
Have a safe and Happy National Margarita Day!