The traditional Margarita recipe features tequila, fresh lime juice, and orange liqueur, but as with most classics, bartenders and enthusiasts have found ways to riff on the original formula. One such twist has become a modern classic: Tommy’s Margarita, which was created by the legendary Julio Bermejo in the early ’90s at his family’s San Francisco restaurant Tommy’s Mexican.
Sweetened solely with agave nectar, the Tommy’s Margarita is characterized by its lack of orange liqueur. It also calls for 100% agave tequila that is free of refined sugar or additives. These simple choices create a slightly less sweet cocktail that puts the focus on tequila while saving the drinker a few calories. In the ’90s, the Tommy’s Margarita became emblematic of a lighter, fresher style of eating and drinking that was taking place in California and which still drives much of the culinary and bar scene today.
Like the classic, the Tommy’s Margarita is typically shaken and 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 has become a bar staple well beyond San Francisco. The cocktail is now served all over the world, as countless establishments and bartenders have followed Bermejo’s lead, focusing on the holy trinity of 100% agave tequila, agave nectar, and fresh lime juice.
Bermejo’s original recipe has become one of the most popular Margarita variations for good reason—it’s fresh, easy to drink, and tastes unmistakably of agave.
2 ounces blanco tequila
1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 ounce agave nectar
Garnish: salt rim
Rub the rim of a rocks glass with a lime wedge, dip the rim in salt to coat, and set aside.
Add the tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar to a shaker with ice.
Shake until well-chilled.
Strain over fresh ice into the prepared glass.
What’s In a Tommy’s Margarita?
While Margaritas are typically sweetened with orange liqueur (or a combination of orange liqueur and agave syrup), the Tommy’s version omits orange liqueur and only relies on agave nectar. Using a 100% agave tequila that doesn’t include additives or refined sugar is also essential. The resulting drink is less sweet and more agave-forward than many Margaritas.
What’s the Best Tequila for a Tommy's Margarita?
A blanco tequila is best for Margaritas, as its crisp citrusy notes blend seamlessly into sour-style cocktails. Since there are only three ingredients, the quality of tequila in a Tommy’s Margarita is important. Make sure to source a tequila that is labeled 100% agave, meaning it is only made from sugars of the blue Weber agave plant rather than additives or refined sugars.