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Drinks Decoded: The Margarita

by Lanna Nguyen on Feb 16, 2016 in Roundups

In this series, we take a closer look at well-known cocktails. Get to know the history behind these classic drinks as well as where you can find them in the DMV area. This week’s Drinks Decoded takes on the Margarita.
 
The Basics
The Margarita is made with tequila, Cointreau or Triple Sec, and lime juice. The drink is typically served in a margarita glass (although that is sometimes substituted with a regular cocktail glass, a wine glass, fishbowl or schooner - take your pick) either frozen, shaken on the rocks, or straight up. Variations of the margarita can be made by switching out the Cointreau or Triple Sec with Gran Marnier, blue curacao, or other fruit-flavored liqueurs. Other -rita drinks combine beer or sangria to the margarita base, creating beergaritas, sangritas, and Coronaritas.
 
The Backstory
An extremely popular cocktail today, the Margarita didn’t get its start until the 1930’s-40’s, showing up relatively later than some of the other classic drinks, such as The Martini, The Manhattan, and The Old Fashioned, which all harken from the 1800’s. There are many stories circulating which claim ownership over the invention of the Margarita. One such story credits a Mexican restaurant owner Carlos “Danny” Herrera with creating the cocktail when one of his customers ordered a drink. The catch? She was allergic to all kinds of alcohol except tequila. He whipped together all of the ingredients to a margarita and the rest is history...unless you believe any of the other stories, such as the one crediting Dallas socialite Margarita Sames for creating the drink for friends while on vacation in Acapulco. Whichever is the true account, it’s widely accepted that the drink did not become super popular until the 1970’s with the invention of the first frozen margarita machine...now, the rest is history.
 
The Bars
Not only does Lauriol Plaza have one of the best frozen margarita swirls, it just so happens that it has one of the best happy hour deals as well: Sunday–Friday from 3–7 PM, get half-pitchers of margaritas for $3.99 in the bar area. (1835 18th St. NW; 202-387-0035)
 
Jose Andres’ Mexican cocina boasts one of the more unique margaritas in the city. The eponymous Oyamel margarita packs a punch with Milagro blanco, Combier L’Original, fresh lime juice and ‘salt air’...aka salty foamy goodness. (401 7th St. NW; 202-628-1005)
 
One of the highly anticipated openings of 2016, when Espita opens its doors in Shaw later this month, the house margarita, made with mezcal, will be a must-try. The Mayahuel (pictured above) combines Fidencio Clasico, triple sec, lime juice, and agave nectar. (1250 9th St. NW)
 
Photo via Espita Mezcaleria

Tags: Cocktails, Tequila
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