National Margarita Day is February 22, and for some of us, it is the only redeeming holiday of the year.
The origins of this cocktail are lost to memory in the same way that many associate with the drinking of tequila. Some say it was a tequila-based variation of the popular prohibition drink, the Daisy, and created in 1936 by bartender Danny Negrete, right here in LA. Others say Mr. Negrete created the first margarita in Mexico. There are rumors it was originally concocted by Don Carlos Orozco, in Ensenada; by Carlos “Danny” Herrera, near Tijuana; or by Santos Cruz, in Galveston, Texas.
»CBS LA: Best Margaritas In LA 2012
The margarita’s muse is said to be Rita Hayworth in the ‘40s, Marjorie King in ‘38 or ‘39, or a host of wives and girlfriends named Margaret or Margarita or Daisy (the English translation of “margarita”). Some credit the cocktail’s creation to helping manly men save face while trying to swallow strong tequila. Others say the drink was simply a marketing tool to sell more of the spirit.
Arguments continue to this day about the best proportion of ingredients, type of salt to use, and whether the traditional orange flavor should come from Cointreau or triple sec. Even the amount of tequila one can taste is open to debate. It isn’t difficult to find other elements to disagree on (not the least of them being – why would anyone want to waste perfectly good booze by drowning it in a blender full of ice cubes?!…but we digress…). Whatever the beginnings, the end is the same: a margarita should be made with quality ingredients (including 100 percent agave tequila), and it should represent the perfect balance of sour and sweet.
But National Margarita Day is for loving, not for fighting! Visit every bar on our list of Best Margaritas in LA, or hit one of the spots below to celebrate this treasured holiday.
It isn’t just their $2 Margarita Monday that has Calabasas residents raving about this place. The margs, themselves – available in a variety of tasty styles and fruit flavors, including watermelon and peach – are fresh and strong and available with a side of large, vibrant outdoor patio (the place to see and be seen during heady summer months).
Casa Azul Cantina
This is the third installment in a series of Mexican restaurants by the Frida’s Tacos people. Bright and blue and casual, this central Westwood spot boasts a crowd-pleasing happy hour, and a list of 57 different tequilas that that might make you rethink your favorite “sauce.” While they serve all of the classic margaritas with all of the classic variations, it’s their El Diablo that really stood out at a recent press event. You control the jalapeno heat – mild, medium, or El Diablo. Regardless of the intensity you choose, it’s a sweet new way to “burn, baby, burn.”
You’ll start with a serving of free chips, salsa and guacamole. After that, it’s up to you to choose your own adventure. Their margs include everything from fruity mango, peach and raspberry to a vanilla Cadillac, and – perhaps befitting the upscale ambiance – the Millionaire Margarita: Don Julio 1942, Grand Marnier Hundred Year Centenaire and fresh lime.
Land here on an evening when Moshe is behind the bar, and ask this culinary school smartie to whip you up one of his scratch margaritas with fresh fruit and a splash of the kind of love a nice person like you normally wouldn’t find at a place like this.
El Coyote Mexican Cafe
This is the El Coyote that tourists flock to in droves and locals frequent for green corn tamales, ostrich tacos and “scratch” margaritas. Love it or hate it, it’s part of LA lore. And their margs are really good.
Welcome to a world of 23 different brands of mezcal and almost 200 listed tequilas. This is Las Perlas, and it isn’t kidding. To celebrate National Margarita Day, you can order Las Perlas’ classic margarita, made from El Jimador Blanco, Royal Combier, fresh lime and agave. Or you can really blow the doors off with the Spiced Daisey. This muy caliente cocktail, featuring Calle 23 Blanco, cucumber jalapeno juice, lime, agave is almost as hot as the bartenders – which is saying something. A word to the wise: Eat before you arrive. This cantina is drinks only… unless you’re keen on snacking on the sal de gusano. They do say it’s an excellent source of protein…
This Hollywood destination, with its blue velvet walls and its black velvet paintings, its candles, its club atmosphere and its beautiful people, serves up rave-worthy food and stiff drinks – whether you’re into Day of the Dead, or you’re just dead-set on drinking a rockin’ margarita.
Arianna Armstrong is a freelance food and wine writer who eats, drinks and sleeps in Los Angeles.