Julio Bermejo, Tommy's Mexican Restaurant | San Francisco | 1980s
1/2 oz agave nectar
1 oz lime juice
2 oz reposado or blanco tequila
Garnish: lime wheel
Many have claimed parental rights to the Margarita, but surprisingly, the cocktail most likely originated in London, of all places — as the “Picador” cocktail. In a Sour, the use of a liqueur (Cointreau in this case) in place of simple syrup bumps the Sour into “Daisy” status and — funny coincidence — “margarita” is Spanish for “daisy.” The Margarita stood its ground for almost forty years until it succumbed to the dreaded sour mix slushy style of the ’70s, along with the Daiquiri. Tequila itself likewise suffered during that time — its dramatic rise in popularity, coupled with the long lead time for agave to mature and natural variations in agave availability due to weather trends led to a decline in tequila quality as producers cut corners by mixing in different agave varietals, blending tequila with cheap aguardiente (cane spirit) as the “mixto” style, and adding caramel color to suggest an aged “gold” spirit. Redemption began to arise in the early ’70s with the designation of Jalisco as an AOC (Applelation of Origin), then in the ’80s with the emergence of premium 100% Weber blue agave tequilas, and in the ’90s with the creation of the Consejo Regulador del Tequila, the governing body that ensures tequila’s integrity. We can thank Julio Bermejo of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco for reinventing the Margarita in a way that gets back to basics and honors the spirit: nix the Cointreau, skip the salted rim, and enjoy el puro sabor del agave. The Tommy’s Margarita has become the contemporary craft standard.