A margarita on the rocks, rocks. — Photo courtesy of Steve LareseThe frozen concoction made famous by Jimmy Buffet was first shaken by Franciso "Pancho" Morales at Tommy's Place Bar in El Paso, Texas, on July 4, 1945. Shaken or stirred, the basic recipe for this obligatory Southwest cocktail is:
- 5 fluid ounces tequila
- 3 fluid ounces triple sec
- Squeezed limes to taste
Pour all of this into a shaker, pour into a glass (doesn't have to be the distinct margarita glass) and enjoy.
While the classic recipe is perfect as is, New Mexico mixologists have taken this classic and made it their own. The godfather of the advanced margarita is Al Lucero, author of The Great Margarita Book (Ten Speed Press, 1999). At Lucero's Maria's Restaurant in Santa Fe, you can try any of the 85 signature margaritas using 75 premium tequilas.
Margaritas can range from sweet to sour (commercial margarita mixes tend to be sweet, while traditional handmade margaritas rely on squeezed limes, giving more of a sour, citrus flavor). Margaritas are often served in a salt-rimmed glass, but purists will forgo salt and lime (called "training wheels") in order to fully appreciate the body of the margarita, which means "daisy" in Spanish.
Some restaurants add flavorings (such as prickly pear cactus syrup at the Palace Restaurant in Santa Fe) to add color and flavor to the drink. Purists forgo anything but the true ingredients, however, and take their margaritas on the rocks, as opposed to blended (which they consider to be a more of a daiquiri).
However you prefer your margarita, the experience is always enhanced by enjoying it on a cozy patio, such as the lush garden-surrounded one at El Pinto in Albuquerque, or overlooking the light of Albuquerque from Sandiago's in the Sandía foothills.