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Posted by on Nov 15, 2012 in Blog, Rants and Raves, Restaurant Reviews | 6 comments

Why the Fuck Can’t I Get a Decent Margarita (A Rant Redux)

A Rant About Margaritas


Why’s it so goddamned difficult to get a decent margarita?  I mean, what the fuck!

Its madness!

The recipe is simple.  Simple!   The act of mixing the cocktail isn’t difficult.  But for some reason, which I fail to contemplate, most bars and restaurants — even highly-rated Mexican restaurants — serve shitty-ass margaritas made with no love nor care.  It’s time to start sending these abominations back.  A major education campaign must be launched, and I’m here to do it.

I’ve had it.  I’m livid!

Where’s the pride?  How can an owner, a manager, or a server put out such lackluster product, when a margarita should be the centerpiece attraction?  How does a restaurant keep its doors open using cheap tequila and rock-gut triple sec poured out of pathetic plastic bottles combined with disgusting powder-based mixers and have the audacity to call that a “margarita?”  It’s like putting lipstick on a pig and calling that Anne Hathaway.

Case in point:  Whoever created the margarita pictured in the photo below should never be able to set foot behind a bar again.  Ever!  The criminal should be digging a ditch or serving on a chain gag.  Bitch slap his ass!  I mean, look at this travesty!  And study carefully.  Drop what you are doing and pay attention!

This is important!



Would you want to drink this?  It’s a disgrace!  It’s one step up from moonshine.

I seriously want to take a hammer to the person’s skull who poured this.

The only thing the criminal got right was the glass.  That’s right — the GLASS.  At least the idiot didn’t serve the precious cocktail in one of those tall stemmed wide-mouth glasses made for dip-shit tourists.  Put the goddamned drink into a REAL GLASS for starters!

Okay — so the glass is fine.  Let’s move on.  It’s all downhill from here.

Notice the mixer is concentrated like a glob of sludge towards the bottom of the glass (mistake #1), while the top portion of the beverage is completely clear (mistake #2).  Then, the clueless moron who created this abomination didn’t shake the cocktail first, to intentionally create the frothy top that is the essence of a great margarita.  SHAKE THE DRINK, YOU JACKSASS!

Pay attention people.  You might learn something.   Bartenders, get a notepad.  I don’t want to have to say this twice.

Lesson One:  The white milky foam is to the margarita what the milk froth is to a great cappuccino.  Where’s the fucking froth?  If there’s no fucking froth, you should be escorted out of the bar in handcuffs!

Next, I have serious concerns about the salt, or I should say TEXTURE of the salt.  If the bartender is not using pure Kosher salt, the establishment should be closed and burned to the ground.  I have actually seen some dives opt for table salt.  TABLE SALT!  ON A FUCKING MARGARITA!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

I’m having serious difficulty continuing with this.  It’s far too emotional for me to continue.

Temporary hyperventilation has overcome me.

Deep breaths.

Deep breaths.

Okay — let’s move on.

Next,, the ass clown sticks a slice of lime on the side of the glass.  Look at that!  How fucking pedestrian can you get?  A lime slice on the SIDE OF THE GLASS!  ARGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  This requires that the consumer must now get his hands all messy and squeeze the lime as an option.  Then, I have to napkin off lime juice all over my hands, not to mention my guests getting pounded in the eyes with stray lime squeeze.  Serious question — Why am *I* supposed to pick up the lime and squeeze it?  It’s like serving a cake and then asking the customer to make the frosting.  Why do *I* have to finish the job and get lime all over my hands for a task that should have been completed by the bartender?  You know, the guy that’s PAID to make fucking drinks.  Should I go into a kitchen and cook the last two minutes of my steak?  I want to DRINK the motherfucker!  Not have to work making the finishing touches!  It’s almost like buying a piece of furniture and having to assemble it myself — the last thing I want to be doing!



Look again.  This is so fucking ugly, it’s painful to look at.


The Wrong Way to Make a Margarita


I’m still wallowing in absolute disgust here.

After staring at this ridiculous excuse for a libation for a moment, scroll up top of the page to the two margaritas.  Those are beauties.  They are pristine works of art.  Mona-fucking-Lisas.  Those two margaritas were made by none other than bartender extraordinaire Marieta Dalla (who is pictured at the conclusion of this article).  I know I’m partial.  But let’s do a comparison.  Which one of these cocktails would you rather be served?  Notice several key differences:

DIFFERENCE #1:  COLOR — In the top photo, even after sitting on the table for several minutes, the alcohol and mixer are not separated.  They blend together,  complementing each other as a single taste.  Notice the color of the margaritas made by Marieta which is a rich milky gold.  RICH MILKY GOLD.  Thin about that.  Absorb it.  Study it.  Contrast that with the low-grade shit that might as well have come out of a petrol hose in the photograph of the garbage margarita.

DIFFERENCE #2:  FRUIT — In Marieta’s two margaritas, the lime is squeezed IN ADVANCE and then shaken together with the entire cocktail.  It becomes PART OF the rich delicacy.  A good lime is NOT merely a garnish, like the fool who made the shitty margarita above seems to believe.  The lime should not only compliment the cocktail, but be a part of the taste and texture.  One should actually taste and feel a little pulp when drinking.  Do you think you will taste any pulp in the idiot’s margarita in that lame photo?  HELL NO!  FUCK HIM!  BURN HIM ALIVE!

DIFFERENCE #3:  MIXING — Check out the good margaritas.  Admittedly, you can’t see the froth any longer because the margaritas in the top photo has been sitting on the table perhaps for 15 minutes.  But the effects of pre-mixing the cocktail into a stainless steel shaker glass are OBVIOUS.  Notice that even after sitting out on the table on a warm day — the lime, juice, and alcohol all blend to absolute perfection.  Even the ice has the right crunchy texture.  This is art.  An orgasm for the mouth.

DIFFERENCE #4:  TEXTURE — Let’s talk more about ice.  In most restaurants, the cubes are either too big or too small.  The right size ice actually creates what I call a “broken glass effect.”  Imagine breaking a glass into small pieces and then stomping on them.  Then, you pour the mixed cocktail over the broken glass.  That’s how it’s done.  THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT RIGHT.   Never mix the ice into the shaker in advance as it breaks up the ice badly and creates a slushy mix.  And since everyone knows that frozen margaritas should be OUTLAWED, we don’t want anything that resembles that embarrassing stepchild or the margarita family.  Side note:  I do not advocate acts of terrorism, but if you see a margarita machine at the bar, the only thing I can think of that’s suitable is a baseball bat.  I HATE FUCKING MARGARITA MACHINES!

So, let’s review the basics of making a killer margarita:

(1)  A great margarita starts with good tequila.  There are dozens of excellent varieties.  I prefer any of the silver tequilas, which drink smoother than their oak-barreled cousins.  Just a preference.

(2)  I’ll choke down triple sec (abut $9 a bottle) if it’s something decent like De Kuypers.  But the best margarita is made either with Cointreau or Grand Marnier.  I prefer Cointreau because it’s much smoother.  Also, Grand Marnier tends to be very syrupy and can overpower the other contents, if overused.  The bottom line is — if you use a cheap orange-flavored accompaniment, you’re going to get a shitty margarita.  This is something that can’t be faked.  Cointreau may very well be the finest liquor made in the world.  Note to the Trustees of My Estate:  When I die, I want to be embalmed in Cointreau.

(3)  The mixer is also critical.  There are three options:  Fresh-squeezed key limes work best, generously thrown into the mix.  Make the mix robustfully powerful.  Don’t pussy this.  Drinkers know when you are faking it.  REAL LIMES!  Admittedly, this isn’t always economically feasible, so a good lime-based syrup (commercially sold in bottles) is an acceptable substitute.  But make sure there are no ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS included in the mix.  You might as well be throwing dung into the glass.  When looking at the bottle on the shelf, a good mixer will have a separation inside the bottle where the heavier liquid mass separates from the lighter clearer solution on top.  Then, you should also see pulp inside the bottle.  If you don’t see pulp, you’re getting screwed and you’re going to end up with some shitty margaritas.

(4)  Once you have the recipe’s big three — tequila, triple sec, and the lime mixer, you have the basics.  But this is just half the game.  The art is about color and texture.  Place all the liquids, plus a key lime slice or two into a stainless steel shaker.  Cover with glass and shake vigorously.  This will create a blend of the liquids which will sustain for the shelf life of the cocktail, while also creating the froth effect.  Pour zesty libation over ice cubes, into glass rimmed with heavy-grain kosher salt.

(5)  Enjoy!


Note:  Here’s the goddess of margaritas — Marieta Dalla.  She is enjoying a cocktail made the right way at El Segundo Sol (at Fashion Center), which is one of the best margaritas and best Mexican restaurants in Las Vegas..  It’s right across the Strip from the Wynn.




  1. Though my tastes in margaritas (and apparently tequilas) run a bit more toward the kerosene end of the cocktail family, I appreciate the advice. You don’t mention the ratios of tequila/Cointreau/mixer. Roughly equal parts of each?

    • Damn good question. I would never be so insistent that certain ratios be used, as all tastes are different — sort of like the silver versus gold preference. Moreover, I see that some places use a splash of orange juice, which can be a nice touch. I essentially outline the basics here, and then the creativity comes with ratios, additions, etc. Had some excellent varietals with different mixtures. Also will drink an occasional margarita straight up, but that must be done to perfect and all the flaws will be apparent. Thanks for writing.

  2. I call bullshit. No way could Nolan sit there for 15 minutes with a margarita in front of him and still have half of it left.

  3. Jesus fucking christ! There is no ice in a real margarita! A stemmed coctail glass is EXACTLY what it is pored in–STRAINED–after the bartentender’s arms are almost falling off from shaking the damn thing.

    Grand Mariner
    Key Limes
    1/4 orange
    Kosher Salt
    Shake Shake Shake
    Garnish w lime wheel

    • I have no idea why you must resort to the use of such profanity. Some people have serious trouble controlling their emotions. IT’S JUST A MARGARITA, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT!

      Oh wait.


    • I’m sorry for the bad language.


      2 units tequila,
      1 unit Grand Mariner
      1.5 units lime juice
      .5 units squeeze of orange.


      Bartender Emeritus, Gordo’s Parlor Saloon and Billiards

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