a classic margarita cocktail

Tequila and Margaritas 101: Everything to Know

There’s a lot to cover when it comes to the best tequila drinks and how to make them. When we hear “tequila drinks,” there’s a good chance most of us think about the margarita first. Here’s  everything you need to know about margaritas and tequila.

Where did margaritas come from?

There’s some debate about this question. There are a few possibilities that each has its worth. Ultimately, the timeline of each story is similar, so we have a good idea of when margaritas began.

Carlos Danny Herrera

He was the owner of a Tijuana restaurant called Rancho La Gloria. According to him, he invented the drink in 1938 when a customer came in that only drank tequila due to an allergy but wouldn’t drink it straight. Herrera used the tequila shot, which has salt and lime as inspiration, thus creating the margarita.

Women named Margarita

The name Margarita wasn’t just a new drink. There were a few women during this time that claim they created the cocktail since they shared the cocktail’s name.

  1. Margarita Sames said she created the drink while vacationing with friends in 1948. However, the tequila brand Jose Cuervo was already running a campaign that started in 1945 that said “Margarita: It’s more than a girl’s name.”
  2. In 1941, Don Carlos Orozco who was bartending in Mexico was experimenting with drinks when Margarita Henkel came in. Orozco let her taste the drink and named it after her.
  3. Danny Negrete is also a contender for the inventor of the margarita when he made a cocktail to gift his sister-in-law at her wedding; she was also named Margarita.

Evolution of the Daisy cocktail

Another likely origin story for one of the best tequila drinks comes from Prohibition. There was a cocktail called the Daisy which was like today’s margarita only it was made with brandy instead of tequila. What’s more, “daisy” is “margarita” in Spanish.

This would be a more likely story than those stories that originate in Mexico because there wasn’t much of a cocktail culture. Even today, margaritas are not the most popular cocktail among locals in Mexico.

The frozen margarita

Once the classic margarita was established, it became even more popular in the 1950s when bartenders started using blenders. In 1971, Mariano Martinez in Dallas gave it a true boost when he created the first margarita machine.

Margarita machines have evolved over the past few decades so much so that there’s now a premium Bartesian cocktail maker that can craft much more than a margarita.

The best tequila for margaritas

Choose a tequila that says 100 percent de agave or puro de agave. These will have complex tequila flavors that will stand out in a margarita. Avoid the brands that say mixto or oro because they’ve been mixed with an inferior natural cane spirit and probably artificial coloring.

Some of the best tequila for margaritas will be silver or blanco. These are more centered on agave flavors. That’s not to say other tequila types don’t have their perks. Reposado tequila will offer a smoother drink. Anejo or aged tequila is best on its own.

Types of tequila

Blanco, silver, plata, or white

This type of tequila doesn’t go into a barrel for aging. Without this step, blanco tequila highlights the natural agave flavors. Blanco tequila will have a more pronounced feel on the palate with agave, grassy herbal notes, citrus, spices, and some sweetness. It will stand up well to tequila mixed drinks.

Reposado, rested, or aged

For reposado tequila, blanco tequila will be stored in American or French oak barrels for two months to one year. Being in the barrel darkens the spirit to gold by pulling tannins from the wood for warm caramel and honey flavors. The citrus and spice flavors from the blanco tequila will still be there with added notes of dry chocolate, chilies, vanilla, and cinnamon.

Anejo, extra aged, or vintage

This tequila will be left in the barrel for longer than reposado is, one to three years. The tequila will become even darker and take on a richer taste with sugary, caramelized notes.

Extra anejo or ultra aged

Any longer than three years in a barrel and the tequila will be ultra aged. This tequila will be cut with water to temper the proof and smoothen the spirit.

Joven, gold, or oro

This is generally mixto tequila which has sugar, colorings, flavorings, oak extracts, or glycerin. They’re not 100 percent agave. It will have citrus flavors and some of the qualities of aged tequila.

Best tequila for margaritas

Teremana Blanco Tequila

This tequila offers a smooth finish with citrus and vanilla notes. It goes well with tequila mixed drinks and margarita recipes.

Exotico Blanco Tequila

This blanco tequila has a fresh agave flavor. It has herbal and spicy notes. This is another great option to get a quality tequila taste to shine through the margarita flavor.

Villa One Silver Tequila

With sweet caramel notes, this tequila adds rich agave flavors to the classic margarita. The point of the margarita is not to camouflage the tequila, but to add titillating new tastes with quality tequila.

Don Julio

For a good level of spice, grass, and white pepper, use the blanco tequila Don Julio.

Other easy tequila drinks

There are other margarita recipes to try to add special, unique twists to the classic margarita. At Bartesian, check out our tropical fruit margaritas, such as Mango Margarita, Passion Fruit Margarita, Blackberry Margarita, or Pineapple Margarita. There’s also the tart Pomegranate Margarita or the Spicy Margarita

With the best tequila brands at hand and the knowledge of the various types, there are plenty of other easy tequila drinks to try. For even more, check out Bartesian’s selections.

Overwhelmed by the options? There’s a monthly subscription to try new cocktails each month. Get the Bartesian to experience all this and more. There’s always a new cocktail to try and seasonal surprises.

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