In Spanish, there are several different meanings to the word Margarita: It is a flower, known in English as daisy, and just as its anglophone counterpart, it is also a women’s name (and the name of a popular type of pizza for beginners).
Margarita is the name of an island in the Venezuelan Caribbean, a variety of sweet potato and the name of an asteroid (I just learn this as I wrote this paragraph!).
Of course, it is also the name of a classic cocktail.
The Margarita cocktail’s origins are as blurry as a night with one too many, but National Geographic points at 1938 as a possible year of birth. As one explanation goes, Mexican restaurant owner Carlos (Danny) Herrera crafted it for a showgirl of great beauty named Marjorie King.
Another theory credits Margarita Henkel, the daughter of a German ambassador, as the muse. American socialite Margarita Sames claims she came up with it in 1948 Acapulco, and some believe it all started after bartender Danny Negrete mixed is for the wedding of his sister in law, who happened to be named Margarita.
According to historian David Wondrich, the drink was simply a tequila-based variation of the Daisy, a brandy-based drink of very similar proportions popular in early 20th century America.
While the Daisy called for other spirits (often brandy), booze-thirsty Americans crossed the border during prohibition times to find that the mix worked really well with tequila.
Experiment with a classic
This year, tequila giant José Cuervo is inviting bartenders to experiment and battle it out with their own take on a Margarita. Ireland-based bartenders are welcome to participate in the Ireland’s Best Margarita competition, which started on National Margarita Day (February 22nd) and will be opened until the 22nd of April 2019. The winner will experience an unforgettable trip to Mexico, where the Jose Cuervo story began.
As explained in their press release, “the most impressive margaritas will be invited to a live final in Dublin on the 14th May where finalists will compete to win the title of Ireland’s Best Margarita in front of a panel of expert judges.”
While most of the José Cuervo drank at parties is not the most complex liquid you will find, their Cuervo Tradicional Silver, is a 100% blue agave tequila made to Jose Antonio de Cuervo’s original recipe.
When talking fine tequila, you really want to see that “100% blue agave” on the label (or variations such as “100 Percent Agave,” “100 Percent Blue Agave,” “100 Percent Agave Azul”), indicators that the drink on the bottle hasn’t been made with lesser raw ingredients thrown in the mix.
While the competition organizers state that a Margarita traditionally is made by simply combining tequila, sweetener and citrus, inventiveness and innovation are encouraged. Sustainability, trends and technical skill are also some of the criteria on which the drink and its maker will be measured.
At last year’s comeptition, Andrew Ennis from Peruke & Periwig won with a tipple inspired by the harmony between Cuervo tequila and Irish Orange Blossom honey mixed with a note of sherry and citrus. The drink was served over hand-carved ice in an Irish clay mug.
Bartenders who are 18 years or old and legal residents of Ireland, can enter the competition between 22nd February – 22nd April (midnight) by submitting their own creative twist on the classic margarita on cuervomargarita.ie.
While I’m not elegible to compete, I can’t help but think my entry would be inspired by the island of Margarita, and I’d mix the tequila with papelón (a.k.a. panela, rapadura or piloncillo).
While not all of us can be the authors of the best Margarita in the country, we all can mix a classic one at home. Below, a fool-proof recipe that’s just perfect for entertaining at home.
– 50ml Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver 100% de Agave
– 30ml Fresh lime juice
– 15ml Agave syrup
– Wedge of lime to serve
1. In a rocks glass combine Cuervo Tradicional, fresh lime juice and agave syrup over ice.
2. Garnish with lime.