A Day to Celebrate Margaritas!
Squeeze the Juice out of Those Limes, Julio! Celebrating National Margarita Day
The Margarita is the most famous cocktail in the United States because of how easy it is to both prepare and enjoy. It evokes vacations, beaches, parties, good friends, happiness, and refreshes us all! We could say that it’s the “perfect” cocktail, and in its ideal version should taste like two ingredients: tequila and lime. It sounds simple, but Julio shows us that it’s a bit more complex than it appears…
What a Margarita should not be
In the early 90s, Julio Bermejo, iconic bartender, owner of the legendary Tommy’s Tequila Bar in San Francisco, and creator of the famous Tommy’s Margarita, began noticing that no bars used 100% agave tequila for their Margaritas. “We didn’t do it at Tommy’s either. We used a tequila that was 51% agave and 49% other sugars, with fresh lime, sweet and sour and triple sec. Then we would blend it with ice and serve it in a glass rimmed with salt.” In the back bar, they keep just a couple 100% tequila agave bottles, because nobody ask for them.
But Julio’s life changed when he fell in love with 100% agave tequilas. After tasting and comparing “tequilas de pozo” (low quality tequilas, literally translates to “from the well”) to 100% agave tequilas, he began to note that the former were lacking in that organoleptic complexity and quality required to elaborate a quality cocktail. “My first impression was that we were not preparing Margaritas the right way.”
With regard to the sweet element, Julio began diluting one part of agave syrup in one part of water. In this way, Tommy’s evolved and gave life to the famous Tommy’s Margarita, which at that point, was just known as the Margarita.
From frozen Margarita to Tommy’s Margarita
Julio tells us it took years for the clients to notice the difference in the quality of the cocktails they were consuming.
Of course, the costs went up: “We paid four times more per bottle and raised the cost of the drink by very little. This lowered our profits.” As risky and costly as the change was, Julio was aware that the quality of the tequila with 100% agave represented an authentic expression of this distilled, proudly Mexican beverage.
The importance of educating clients
At Tommy’s they started to give Margarita samples to their clients—some prepared with 100% agave tequila and others with mixed tequila, so that they could begin to notice the difference. Little by little, the clients began to appreciate and value the flavors, aromas and quality of the 100% agave tequila. Then Julio and his team began serving the Margaritas on the rocks, without salt.
They also had prepared trays with freshly cut limes and would squeeze the juice over the Margaritas, in front of the client. “It was an impactful experience for them to see that we used freshly squeezed lime juice at Tommy’s, since no other bar did this at the time.”
Another strategy that worked to educate clients was to place bottles of 100% agave tequila in front of the client. If the client was willing, they could smell it and compare it to mixed tequila. The experience with the product is what made the client value the importance of using 100% agave tequila to prepare their Margarita.
100% agave tequila
It can be añejo, reposado or blanco, depending on the climate where you are. It should represent the region it comes from as well as the quality raw materials that were used to make it.
Without seeds, from Veracruz, in Mexico. They should be ripe, and with a peel that is smooth and soft to the touch. Once juiced, leave the limes in the juice so that it does not oxidize.
Served on the rocks, no salt.
Unless the client requests it.
Diluted 1:1 with water.
Discover lime Secrets for the Perfect Margarita (video)
Julio teaches us how to prepare and juice limes in this video:
Finally, here is the classic Tommy’s Margarita recipe:
- 60 ml / 2 parts Altos Plata
- 30 ml / 1 Part Lime juice
- 15 ml / 1⁄2 Part Agave Syrup
- Lemon wedge and salt rim
Add all of the ingredients into ashaker with ice and shake. Fine-strain over ice into a glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge and salt rim.
For more Margarita recipes to celebrate National Margarita Day, click here.
Don´t forget to follow Julio at his IG account @julio.bermejo.718