Margarita Variations for Cinco De Mayo

April 30, 2020

Few events or celebrations bring more Americans out to the bar than Cinco de Mayo. Of course, Cinco de Mayo 2021 will predominantly be a stay-at-home affair. All the better then to try your hand at mixing up a few delicious Margaritas at home. These Margarita variations are easy to execute and will amplify your home cocktailing skills. They’ll also work great anytime of the year, or even for future Cinco de Mayos, when you want to skip the crowds and lines altogether and stay home by choice, sipping on a marvelous Margarita or two.

Margarita Variations: Use Mezcal

“Our Mayahuel has classic proportions, is easy to make at home, and then hard to go back to your classic margarita after you’ve tried it,” says James Simpson, beverage director of Espita Mezcaleria in Washington, D.C. “The key here is good ingredients: good quality mezcal, fresh limes, and 80 proof triple sec that has the taste of real orange. Select ingredients for your home bar based on quality, if one component is off you compromise all the others!”

The Mayahuel

1.5 oz El Buho Espadín Mezcal (or other excellent espadín mezcal)
.75 oz Combier Liqueur d’Orange (or proper 80 proof Triple Sec)
.75 oz fresh lime juice
1 bar spoon “nogave” simple syrup*
Rim the glass with sal de gusano

Directions: Rim a coupe glass with sal de gusano (Espita Mezcaleria recommends sourcing from Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake well, strain and pour into glass.

*Nogave simple syrup is Espita Mezcaleria’s sustainable alternative to agave syrup, consisting of demerara sugar and honey.

The Mayahuel /Photo Credit: Espita Mezcaleria

Margarita Variations: Add Watermelon

“I know that for myself during a hot summer day here in San Diego I am a huge fan of making frozen Margaritas,” says Justin Greenwood, bar manager of 619 Spirits Distillery & Tasting Room in San Diego. “If I don’t want to take the time to juice citrus, I have been known to pull out my favorite Simply Limeade mix and grab Simply Watermelon from the shelf for a delicious spin on a Watermelon Margarita.”

Watermelon & Lavender Margarita

2 oz limeade
1.5 oz tequila
1 oz watermelon juice
4 sprigs lavender

Directions: Combine all ingredients with ice in a blender for a frozen margarita. (Alternately, shake well and serve over ice). Garnish with lavender sprigs.

If you have some time to prep in advance, tear up some lavender and let it let it soak in the watermelon juice for a few hours. “It’ll add nice floral notes to the Margarita, and either way, lavender is a great garnish,” Greenwood says.

Margarita Variations: Add Jalapeño

“We just wanted to have a Spicy Margarita everyone can drink,” says Corey Souza of the CitizenM Bowery. “This cocktail has the warming element from the spiciness imparted by the all-natural, hand-cut peppers infused into the tequila.”

A Jalapeno Spicy Margarita

1.5 oz. Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila
.5 oz. Tanteo Blanco Tequila
.75 oz. fresh lime juice
.75 oz. whiskey agave syrup*

Directions: Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake well and pour into a rocks glass.

*Whiskey Agave Syrup Recipe: Boil 1 liter of whiskey (Souza uses Jack Daniel’s) for roughly 10-15 minutes until it reduces to 750ml. Then combine with equal parts light agave, mixing thoroughly until it’s diluted properly.

(If you happen to live in New York, Tanteo Tequila has also partnered with The Wayland in the East Village, and cocktail caterer Cocktails in Motion, to create Margarita party packages with flavors such as Hibiscus Grapefruit, Mango Passion Fruit, and Kale Ginger, all benefiting The LEE Initiative. If you’re reading this before the weekend, there’s still time for weekend delivery ahead of Cinco de Mayo, or alternately, you can celebrate all over again the next weekend).

Jalapeno Spicy Margarita /Photo Credit: Tanteo Tequila

Margarita Variations: Add Passion Fruit and Honey

“The Mia Margarita is a perfectly balanced cocktail and one of our best-selling,” says bar manager Rob Cleveland of Nobu Newport Beach. “All of the ingredients working together with the hint of spice makes it my favorite cocktail to enjoy with our dishes.”

The Mia Margarita

2 oz Corralejo Añejo Tequila
2 oz passion fruit puree
.5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz house made honey syrup
3 shakes of shichimi (Japanese 7 spice)

Directions: Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake well and pour into a Collins glass.
Garnish with blood orange wheel and shichimi.

Margarita Variations: Use Whiskey???

Eric “ET” Tecosky, the former bar manager of Jones Hollywood, and the founder of Dirty Sue Premium Olive Juice, recommends going in a completely different direction. “While on a wedding weekend in Guadalajara I noticed not one bar made a Margarita similar to what I was used to in the U.S.,” he says. “I noticed every bar had a ‘juice blend’ with a variety of citrus. When I got back I started playing around and came up with this drink.” His Angel Tears add a salty kick from olive juice to the drink, making the citrus flavors pop even more

The Whiskey A Go Go

2 oz Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7
1 oz GoGo juice*
1 oz simple syrup
4-5 drops Dirty Sue Angel Tears

Directions: Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake well, strain and pour into an Old Fashioned glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a half orange wheel and cherry.

*GoGo Juice – 2 parts fresh lemon juice, 1 part fresh lime juice, 1 part fresh grapefruit juice.

Going with whiskey as a base may be a controversial Margarita decision for many. If it’s a step too far, Tecosky suggests subbing out the Jack Daniel’s for a good quality reposado, such as El Jimador Reposado, and switching from simple syrup to agave nectar.

The Whiskey A Go Go 

Quick Tips for the Road

When in doubt, simply start with high-quality base spirits and fresh squeezed lime juice. With those in place, you’ll be hard pressed to mess up any Margarita.

Another avenue for exploration is the sweetener. Simple syrup, agave nectar and honey are all viable options.

Triple sec is the most common modifier in a Margarita, but there’s no reason you can’t switch it up. For instance, try Ancho Reyes for a spicy, herbal kick, and boost up the amount of sweetener you use to balance it out.

You can even try your hand at creating your own infused tequila at home. The night before you plan on enjoying some Margaritas, chop up your choice of ingredients including jalapeño or other peppers, fruit such as pineapple or grapefruit, and even herbs such as cilantro. Mix and match to your preferences and let sit overnight, straining before use.

Ready to try making your own margarita variations?

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