Many purists believe the tequila and lime combination that is the Margarita cannot possibly be improved upon, and for good reason. It’s a classic—a citrusy, salty and refreshing one at that. But those who are bit more adventurous in their love of mixing up tequila can look ahead to warmers days sipping something similar to their favorite boozy beverage. Tequila lovers, rejoice. These are nine new ways to enjoy your next Marg this spring.
1. Cafecito (El Vez, New York City)
Bartender Mark Murphy infuses his latest Margarita with a dose of caffeine. The Cafecito is made with Corralejo Reposado, Amaro Averna, La Colombe cold-brew coffee and chipotle agave syrup for a kick. The drink, once shaken and strained, is served over ice in glass rimmed with smoked espresso sea salt, topped with grated canella and garnished with a fresh lemon twist. It has flavors, Murphy says, “reminiscent of salted caramel with a subtle smoky spicy finish and a bitter coffee kick.”
2. 24 Karat Golden Margarita (Gianni’s, The Villa Casa Casuarina, Miami Beach, Fla.)
It takes a special cocktail, inspired by the notorious legacy of extravagance and sophistication of the Versace brand, to be served at the luxe boutique hotel that was once the former home of the late Gianni Versace (for whom the restaurant is named). Yes, the 24 Karat Golden Margarita uses gold-infused El Cartel tequila as a base, along with Grand Marnier and fresh-squeezed orange and lime juice, and is served over ice and finished with a salt rim.
3. Up in Smoke (Gracias Madre, West Hollywood, Calif.)
Beverage director Jason Eisner first envisioned the Up in Smoke cocktail as a hoppy Margarita, and because hops and marijuana share similar flavor profiles, he ran with the theme by smoking the drink in a water decanter (read: bong) with dry-roasted hemp seeds. The cocktail, which, to be sure, is labor-intensive, is made with blanco tequila, house mosaic-hopped cucumber soda, lemon, celery bitters and CO2 and garnished with cucumber pieces in the shape of the letters T, H and C.
Damiana, a low-growing shrub native to subtropical climates including Mexico, is a popular herbal remedy used for everything from treating indigestion to serving as a mood enhancer and aphrodisiac. It’s no wonder the culinary team at The Resort at Pedregal came up with the Baja Margarita as a way to use local ingredients. It’s made with reposado tequila, house-made Damiana and green pepper cordial, house-made ginger syrup, Cointreau and fresh lemon juice, shaken and strained into a rocks glass rimmed with chile morita salt.
Far from your typical fruity Margarita, the sweetness of the Big Shoe Dance, new on Rolf & Daughters’ menu, is matched with some real heat. Made with Tapatio Reposado tequila, Ancho Reyes ancho chile liqueur, fresh lime juice, Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub and a house-made strawberry syrup (a mixture of fresh strawberry pure, agave and Merlet Crème de Fraise des Bois), the cocktail is double-strained and served in a double Old Fashioned glass with a lime wheel dusted in Tajín chile lime salt.
Foraging for local and unique ingredients is nothing new, especially for bartenders, and in the case of the pink peppercorn trees on the property at Royal Palms, nothing is off-limits. Head bartender Charlie Zeiler created a Margarita around two special trees, and the Peppered Pomegranate Margarita was born. Made with El Tesoro Platinum tequila, spicy pomegranate syrup (made with pink peppercorns and chile flakes) and fresh lemon juice, the cocktail is garnished with the leaves from the pink peppercorn tree, also known for its spicy aroma. “The pink peppercorns and leaves have an amazing flavor and smell that awaken your senses,” says Zeiler.
7. Margarita Pampano (Pampano, New York City)
The house drink at Pampano is pretty enough to drink, even in its frozen form. A creation of Ciro Garzon, the (edible) floral-forward Margarita Pampano is made with Cazadores Blanco tequila combined with hibiscus and served in a glass rimmed with ground hibiscus petals and garnished with a dried whole hibiscus flower.
8. Salt Air Margarita (China Poblano, Las Vegas; The Bazaar, Los Angeles)
Leave it to chef José Andrés, who when looking for an alternative to Margarita salt rims replicated the salty ocean air he found in his native Spain. The result? The Salt Air Margarita, made with blanco tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and the chef’s “salt air,” a blend of lime juice, water, salt and sucro, a powdered emulsifier. Served at China Poblano and The Bazaar, two of his West Coast restaurants, it’s almost as refreshing as beachside cocktails.
Likely using the most exotic ingredients seen in a Margarita, The Trinity is made with precision and care, making the most of the gelée, caviar, foam and, yes, tequila. The bar teams infuses Sauza Blanco with yamamomo (Japanese bayberry), mixes it with lemon and lime juice and yuzu marmalade, tops it with orange foam and pairs it with a caviar of li hing mui (a salty dried plum).