The Margarita, in all of its simplistic glory—with more self-professed originators than the internet, see Ted Haigh interview—is all too often forsaken. In a town like Los Angeles, sadly, one couldn’t find a decent Margarita until a few years ago; nor was there a single place where one could eat great Mexican food while drinking great agave-based spirits. Now, we have Rivera—which has helped redefine Mexican gastronomy—as Angelinos and Americans, in our entirety. Rivera’s Julian Cox, one of the country’s most celebrated young barmen, makes a serious Margarita—and is about as good as it gets when it comes to agave-based spirits, in general. The singular Julio Bermejo has been evangelizing the virtues of agave for decades, converting many a lost soul—at Tommy’s, in San Francisco. And, Jimmy Yeager, tucked up high in the Rockies, has one of the best agave-based bars in the world—in Aspen of all places—and his knowledge is phenomenal.
After a few decades of making Margaritas myself, the recipe is fairly simple and fool-proof. Start with a great base-spirit—I use el Tesoro, Siete Leguas and, over the past few years, Tequila Ocho. Sadly, Herradura and Gran Centenario no longer have a place in my bar (with the exception of a few rogue cases left over from the 70s and 80s, smuggled into the country over the years. The second prerequisite, of course, is fresh squeezed juice (no exceptions).
2 oz. Tequila Blanco
½ oz. Cointreau (Controy is also great), Grand-Marnier is chingón-deluxe
½ oz. Agave nectar
1 oz. Fresh-squeezed lime juice
Dash Fresh-squeezed orange juice
Dash Fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Pour first eight ingredients in a tin-on-tin mixing glass with ice, shake and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a thin-sliced lime wheel. If you must salt the cocktail, gently roll one side of the lime-juiced glass in salt (make sure none gets in the drink).