Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Tequila & Mezcal Cocktails

Tommy’s Margarita

Tommy's Margarita
Image: / Tim Nusog

The classic Margarita recipe features tequila, orange liqueur and fresh lime juice, but as with most classics, bartenders and enthusiasts find ways to tweak the formula. One twist on the original has become a modern-classic: Tommy’s Margarita, which was created by Julio Bermejo in the early ’90s at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, a San Francisco favorite dating back to 1965.

Tommy’s version is characterized by its lack of orange liqueur. (Some bartenders argue that eliminating the orange liqueur makes this version not a Margarita. But that is a story for another time.) Rather than using the sweetener to balance the tequila and lime, Bermejo relies solely on agave nectar, made from the same plant that produces tequila. This simple swap creates a cocktail that tastes similar to the original and saves the drinker a few calories. It became emblematic of the lighter, fresher style of eating and drinking that was taking place in California around the end of the twentieth century and still drives much of the culinary and bar scene today.

The Tommy’s Margarita is created by shaking the tequila, lime juice and agave nectar together with ice. It’s typically served on the rocks in a salt-rimmed glass. Tommy’s, which offers one of the largest agave spirits selections in the world, still serves the drink in droves, but its signature Margarita isn’t relegated to San Francisco. The cocktail is now served all over the world, as countless establishments and bartenders followed Bermejo’s lead, omitting the orange liqueur from their Margaritas and focusing on the holy trinity of 100% agave tequila, agave nectar and fresh lime juice. This recipe has become one of the most popular Margaritas for good reason—it’s bright, citrusy and quaffable.


  • 2 ounces blanco tequila

  • 1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar

  • Garnish: salt rim


  1. Rim a rocks glass with salt and set it aside.

  2. Add the tequila, lime juice and agave nectar to a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.

  3. Strain over fresh ice into the prepared glass.