November cocktail of the month: the margarita

by Great British Chefs 28 October 2022

One of Mexico’s most famous exports, the margarita is a cocktail all about balance. Sour citrus meets punchy tequila and a signature salted rim to create a drink equally at home at a party or a meal. We find out more about this classic cocktail.

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Regardless of where you are in the world, you’ll be hard pushed to find a cocktail menu which doesn’t feature a version of a margarita. Sharp, refreshing and boozy in equal measure, margaritas are up there with the most popular cocktails in existence and for good reason too – they’re deceptively simple to make and even easier to drink.

There’s a lot to love about this classic concoction of tequila shaken up with lime juice, triple sec and ice and served in a glass with a salted rim, but something which makes the margarita really stand out is its versatility. Whilst a margarita or two is a fantastic way of beginning a night, it’s also a great cocktail to enjoy alongside food and is a staple of many Mexican restaurant menus in particular, as a result of its Latin American roots. Margarita drinking is by no means limited to a particular time of year but with the Mexican holiday of Day of the Dead being celebrated at the start of November, we think now is as good a time as any to have the tequila at the ready.

You might expect a cocktail as famous as the margarita to have a well-documented history but its origins are actually up for debate. Many believe the margarita to be an ancestor of the daisy family of cocktails, which is supported by the fact that the word margarita actually translates as ‘daisy’ in Spanish. Daisies were popular in the early twentieth century and involved combining orange liqueur and citrus with a spirit (usually brandy). A newspaper report from 1936 suggests that the first tequila daisy was created by accident when a barman in Tijuana picked up a bottle of tequila without meaning to, and the resulting creation soon caused a stir.

In 1937 meanwhile, the Café Royal Cocktail Book was published containing a recipe for a ‘picador’, which was almost identical to a modern-day margarita (the only difference being that either lemon or lime juice could be used) leading some to claim that it’s actually a British invention! Other stories have it that the classic cocktail was named after the person it was first created for. One such person was famous jazz singer Peggy Lee, who’s said to have asked Santos Cruz, the head bartender of the Balinese Room in Texas, to create her a tequila-based cocktail. Cruz decided to model his cocktail on a sidecar and named it margarita, the Spanish for Margaret (which Peggy is short for).

We may never know exactly where or when the first margarita was created but what we do know is that by the 1960s, margaritas were beginning to appear on cocktail menus across the US and further afield. The creation of the electric blender meanwhile, gave birth to the frozen margarita, which soon became a hugely popular cocktail in its own right. By 2008, the margarita had become the most-ordered mixed drink in the U.S, cementing itself as a cocktail for the ages.

Whilst a lot of people are happy shaking up their own margaritas at home, it can be a tricky task getting that perfect balance of flavours. What’s more if you’re hosting, making your own cocktails can sometimes be too much of an added stress. Thankfully, MOTH’s range of ready-to-drink, bar-quality canned cocktails are there to help. MOTH’s trend-leading cocktails are made using premium spirits, including one of the most celebrated tequilas in the world, the nineteen double gold award-winning Tequila Enemigo, which is used in their margarita. With Day of the Dead fast approaching, there’s no better time to stock up on MOTH margaritas, so that you can celebrate in style. You can get 20% of your first order at MOTH using the code MOTHXGBC20.

Hosting a Day of the Dead celebration and unsure of what food to serve alongside your MOTH margaritas? Why not give one of these incredible Mexican recipes a try?

Torta de pescado

If you’re looking to keep things simple and casual, look no further than this torta de pescado recipe. These irresistible Mexican sandwiches balance crispy fried fish with smoky chipotle mayo, zingy Mexican coleslaw and lime-rich guacamole and are at their best when washed down with a sour margarita.

Tacos de suadero

Nud Dudhia’s slow-cooked beef brisket tacos may require a bit of patience but the final result is well worth the wait. Crisped-up brisket, which has been cooked in its own fat, is topped with punchy salsa roja and served in warm tortillas to give you tacos you won’t forget in a hurry.

Organic Mexican roast pork shoulder with grapefruit and Scotch Bonnet chilli

All the best celebrations involve an impressive centrepiece and that’s exactly what this Mexican-inspired roast pork shoulder is. Coming smothered in a spice paste made from grapefruit zest and roasted with scotch bonnet chillies, it certainly packs a punch but that’s all the more reason to enjoy it alongside a refreshing margarita or three.

Chocolate tamales

No Day of the Dead celebration is complete without something sweet to finish proceedings and Santiago Lastra’s unusual take on traditional tamales is just the ticket. Although tamales are usually savoury, Santiago instead uses a chocolate mixture, which he steams inside corn husks to create a perfectly packaged pudding.