Bourbon For A Cause

There's A National Margarita Day?

Whenever there's a National ____ Day coming up, publicists hype it up on behalf of their clients. And there are a lot of them. Apparently Monday, Feb. 22 is 2021's sacred commemoration of amateur drinkers' and Jimmy Buffett fans' favorite cocktail. Apparently National Wine Day as earlier this week. Isn't every day National Wine Day? Shouldn't every Friday be National Margarita Day?

In the spirit of having a little fun and playing along, a couple of recommendations on how to revisit this often-maligned cocktail without feeling like you've stepped back in time to that faux Mexican cantina where you sampled Cuervo and tried on tequila goggles for the first time.

Not all margaritas suck. Of course, the easiest way to get an average margarita is to buy a jug of Cuervo mix and a bottle of their blanco, but more than one of those is to invite a world of hurt. The internet is awash with recipes that claim to be the best and usually involve ridiculous effort for mediocre returns. For a helpful shortcut that won't overload you with sugar, grab a bottle of Stirrings Simple Margarita mix. (Whole Foods stocks it.)

Next up is your liquor. Tequila is a must, but if you want to elevate your imbibing experience, then mezcal at a 50/50 ratio is a must as well. Since you're likely to have a few Margs this month/quarter/year, it's not worth buying a one-trick pony bottle. Instead, get something more versatile and higher end that you'll enjoy even when it's not National Margarita Day.

Tres Agaves Tequila Reposado ($30) is one of the best bangs for the buck in the spirits world today. Made of organically-grown agave and aged for a surprisingly long 9 months in American whiskey barrels, the result is a full, round profile with terrific salinity and a long, rich finish where vanilla and ripe tropical fruit notes linger. Though overqualified as a Margarita mixer, it sings over ice or with a few drops of water. An excellent product deserving of 94 points.

As for mezcal, here again it's worth picking up something that can do double duty. Availability is highly variable across the country, so it's worth asking your local liquor store what they recommend (and have first hand knowledge of.) Del Maguey is one of the most prevalent brands in distribution with their Vida bottling being both affordable and of respectable quality, even if it's not terribly interesting. Sombra and Montelobos are similarly safe, if pedestrian. Nationally distributed artisanal brands such as Vago and Illegal don't get good until you start paying upwards of $60, and just stay away from Monte Alban, Wahaka and Casamigos. If you can put your hands on smaller producers like Xicaru, you'll be set, and if you're feeling flush, spring for the expensive, but extraordinary Los Nahuales

The addition of mezcal turns the ordinary Margarita into a really interesting experience. Want to spice it up (literally) even more? Add a fresh, whole jalapeƱo to your ingredients. For a little spice, use it as a garnish. For more spice, add it to your shaker with everything else - the agitation should help release more of it's zing.

Cheers!