Friday 19 February 2021 8:16 am

City Spirits: The margarita is a perfect February pick-me-up

For all too many people, February 22 is just another date. A wintry day, touch of drizzle, and this year in particular, nothing overly exciting to celebrate. Those in the know, however, will be getting their fiesta on for National Margarita Day. And honestly, on day 4,374 of lockdown, do you need an excuse to celebrate? 

The classic margarita – tequila, lime, triple sec with a salt rim – first graced the pages of Esquire in 1953. But it originated much earlier, perhaps around 1939, in an LA bar named Tail o’the Cock. After a canny importer named Vern Underwood noticed its popularity, and discovered a neat line of business importing tequila, it was everywhere by the 60s. 

While you can’t get to the Tail o’the Cock this year – or indeed, anywhere – the bar can come to you. Various London establishments and drinks delivery services are offering mixologist-approved margarita mixes to your door, and chief among them are the two wizards behind the bar at the Connaught, this year voted the world’s best bar. 

Ago Perrone and Giorgio Bargiani have been working with Patron on three new serves, all of which are available for home delivery in the run-up to National Margarita Day through The Drinks Drop. 

“A margarita is as simple as it is complex,” Ago tells us over a Zoom call – with the Connaught’s bar as a particularly enticing backdrop. “If you don’t use a very good tequila, the freshest lime juice…. It’s very easy to mess up.”

Ago and Giorgio have developed three takes on the classic margarita – with the Omega margarita not just available for delivery but taking its place on the menu when drinkers can return to the bar’s plush seats (hopefully, for all our sakes, sooner rather than later). Using Patron Reposado, a homemade orange liqueur aperitivo and bartender’s favourite Supasawa, it’s refreshing and soft. 

Even better, each sip does its bit for charity. All the profits will be donated to the Covid fund of The Drinks Trust in aid of industry professionals hit hard by the pandemic. 

“The sense of community and tightness became even stronger this year,” says Giorgio of the bartending and spirits industry. “It made us even more understanding of how important the community is, how important bars and restaurants are for society, so this isn’t just supporting our colleagues around the world, but how we support our guests.”

Liming up London

Ago & Giorgio aren’t the only ones doing things a little differently this year – but the good news is that Londoners have plenty of options for bringing the party home. 

Alongside Patron, Difford’s Guide, the cocktail bible, have created bespoke bundled kits for those amateur mixologists at home, with ingredients for making fifteen (!) margaritas. Each package comprises a bottle of Patron silver, a bottle of triple sec, agave syrup, Difford’s margarita bitters, limes, a bottle of saline solution and (crucially) two absolutely gorgeous Patron margarita glasses. 

Meanwhile, mixer brand Two Keys are running a ‘Margarita Hotline’ on the day itself, with callers given the chance to win an Emergency Margarita Kit consisting of two Patron minis, a Two Keys lemon mixer and a couple of limes. The lines are open for 12 hours from midday on Monday – via 0800 702 2127. Answer one question correctly and a much-needed kit could be on its way. 

And for a tequila that offers something a little different, you could do worse than trying Maestro Dobel’s Humito expression. The distillers have packed it full of smoky flavours by using mesquite wood in the production process, giving it a whiff on the nose that sings a few mezcal notes. Delicious. 

For an even greater smoky note, join the hipster community in choosing a Mezcal. A what?

In general Mezcal is the wider name for spirits made from the agave plant. Tequila is a particular type of mezcal, that is often considered to be cleaner in flavour than Mezcal, where the agave is cooked and smoked, resulting in a big flavour for the spirit. 

To make a great mezcal margarita, try using a measure of Illegal Joven Mezcal alongside a measure of tequila to give you a true Meixcan wave of flavour. Smoky, punchy, lovely.

Read more: City Spirits: Champagne and Cognac the perfect recipe for Valentine’s Day