One thing’s for sure: Since December 1953, when Esquire named the Margarita its cocktail of the month, the drink has hardly flagged in popularity, rising in stature alongside tequila, which got a pop-culture boost from the Eagles (“Tequila Sunrise”), Rolling Stones (the Cocaine and Tequila Sunrise Tour of ’72) and of course, Jimmy Buffet (“Margaritaville”).
A simple sour at heart (1 1/2 to 2 parts base spirit + 3/4 parts citrus + 3/4 parts sweetener), the Margarita is highly riffable. Its requisite base, tequila, can be split to include its brother-in-agave, mezcal, as in Scott Beattie’s Beachfire Margarita, a smoky play on the classic structure. The citrus factor—lime—can be swapped or pumped up to include any sort of juice including grapefruit, pomegranate or a homemade carrot blend as in Dylan + Jeni’s spicy Californian Carrot Margarita. (This one also goes through the blender to create a smoothie consistency—just add equal parts crushed ice to any margarita recipe and toss in a blender. See a blender 101 here.)
While orange liqueur is a traditional piece of the Margarita puzzle, a modern classic—the Tommy’s Margarita, hailing from Julio Bermejo in San Francisco—omits Cointreau altogether in lieu of sweet, Mexican agave nectar. And lastly, every Margarita under the sun loves accessorizing. Muddle in cucumbers, herbs or a mix of avocado and spicy peppers like in Eric Prum and Josh Williams’ Jalapeño Avocado Margarita, and you’ve got a drink that doubles as lunch.
Salt or no salt, on the rocks or up, it’s up to you.