Much dispute has arisen over who exactly created one of the most famous and endearing cocktails in the world, the classic margarita. Many say it first popped up around 1938 when bartender Carlos “Danny” Herrera dreamed up the cocktail for a dancer named Marjorie King, who claimed she was allergic to all spirits except Tequila, prompting Herrera to build on the elements of a traditional tequila shot with salt and lime to create a refreshing, palatable drink. Other origin stories say the drink wasn’t created until 10 years later, when a wealthy socialite named Margarita Sames just randomly whipped up her namesake for some guests, one of whom was Tommy Hilton who would go on to add the drink to the bar menu across his well-known hotel chain. However, the Sames story clashes with the claim in The Complete Book of Spirits that Anthony Dias Blue, the first importer of Jose Cuervo in the U.S, advertised with the tagline “Margarita: it’s more than a girl’s name” in 1945, which is three years before Sames apparently created this drink. We may never know the true origin of the drink, but one thing is for sure; Margaritas have remained a reference point for cocktail recipes which go on to stand the test of time, so much so that a day exists to celebrate the mix; that day is today, Monday 22nd February.
Technically, National Margarita Day is for the U.S to celebrate, but when has that ever stopped Aussies from joining in on the fun? While the cocktail has mainly been associated with Mexican bars and restaurants, there are plenty of different venues around Sydney that offer excellent traditional margaritas or twists on the original, so there’s no excuse not to go out are toast to this drinks of drinks. Here are some of our favourite places to grab a margarita in Sydney, both new and established.
This Must Be The Place (Darlinghurst)
239 Oxford St, Darlinghurst
Surely you’ve heard of This Must Be The Place by now; it’s that inner city small bar which is run by two of the city’s most celebrated bartenders, Luke Ashton (ex Vasco) and Charlie Ainsbury (ex Eau de Vie), both whom have been crowned Diageo Reserve World Class Australia bartender of the year. It was named Best New Bar at the Time Out Sydney Bar Awards last year. The focus here is on spritzes strangely enough, but if you ask nicely they’ll make you up a Ginger Margarita for $19 with the super smooth Sesión Blanco, fresh lime juice, agave syrup, and ginger.
Sesión Tequila Ginger Margarita:
45ml – Sesión Blanco
25ml – Fresh lime juice
10ml – Agave Syrup
1 knob Ginger
Add all ingredients to a shaker, add lots of ice and shake hard. Strain into an ice filled tumblr and garnish with a knob of candied ginger or slice of lime.
Have it with: Jamón (with grissini and olive oil)
Barrio Chino (Potts Point)
28-30 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross
To celebrate National Margarita Day, late-night Mexican bar and diner Barrio Chino have created a special take on the classic, the Mandarin & Peach Margarita, which they described as a summery twist on the traditional drink with subtle peach notes, balanced with the citrus of mandarin and Tequila with hints of agave.
Muddle one mandarin in the shaker
Pour 45ml Herradura Blanco, 15ml peach liqueur (they use Massenez), 20ml freshly squeezed juice, and 20ml agave syrup
Shake and pour in tumbler with citrus salt rim
Garnish with an inside out half mandarin
Have it with: Traditional Baja Fish & Prawn 6″ Inch Taco ( with Lightly battered market fish & king prawns + chipotle crema + Chinese cabbage)
Harpoon Harry (Surry Hills)
Photo credit: Nikki To.
40-44 Wentworth Ave, Surry Hills
This rejigged contemporary Latino diner has got the good when it comes to both food and drink, and while they are soon changing the menu to something more in line with Belle’s Hot Chicken mastermind Morgan McGlone, hopefully they’ll still be serving these sweet margaritas up on the daily. They’ve got a coconut margarita (our pick), a passionfruit margarita, and a margarita jug available. Better yet, there’s a bunch of specials on all three for today (22nd Feb 2016) only. Both the coconut and passionfruit margaritas will be 8 bucks each, and the jug will be available for $25 each.
Have it with: Smoked Pork Roll (roasted pork belly with cucumber, carrot, coriander, chilli, chicharron, on a toasted baguette)
Neighbourhood Bar (Bondi)
143 Curlewis St, Bondi Beach
This beach-side institution does a mean chargrilled pineapple take named Eddie’s BBQ Margarita, set at $19 with Don Julio Blanco Tequila, chargrilled pineapple, line, agave, and habanero salt. If you don’t get a kick out of this one then you just ain’t livin’ right.
Have it with: Chargrilled Jerk Chicken (with Southern fried creamed-corn & smoky speck lardons)
SoCal (Neutral Bay)
1 Young Street, Neutral Bay
Of course this Southern Californian bar is going to have a strong focus on margaritas. AppleJack’s hugely popular over-the-bridge small bar have five different takes on the cocktail, starting with the SoCal Classic which is El Jimador Reposado Tequila, Cointreau, lime and sugar. Then you’ve got the Tommy’s with El Jimador, lime, and agave; the Peach & Apricot with El Jimador, Cointreau, lime, and peach & apricot syrup; the Strawberry & Vanilla, and our favourite, the Pineapple and Honey. All are set at $17 and available classic, frozen, or on the rocks.
Have it with: Scallop ceviche (with zucchini & charred corn salsa)
The Argyle (The Rocks)
18 Argyle St, The Rocks
You may not think one of the biggest and most renowned night spots in Sydney would do the margarita justice, but the bar here does a pretty worthy take, sticking with the classic recipe with extra sugar to sweeten things up a bit. The Argyle’s Margarita will set you back $19 and features Jose Cuervo Traditional, Cointreau, freshly squeezed lime, and sugar syrup, double strained into a chilled salt rimmed coupe.
45ml Jose Cuervo Traditional
30ml fresh squeezed lime
15ml sugar syrup
Double strain into a chilled salt rimmed coupe
Have it with: Prawn cocktail bucket (with cocktail sauce, lemon, and horseradish).
Bondi Hardware (Bondi)
39 Hall Street Bondi Beach
One of Bondi’s most lively local favourites offers up a refreshing Chilli Margarita for $17, with Chilli infused El Jimador, Cointreau, lime, agave, and pineapple. On any day of the week this bar can get petty busy so best head along in the afternoon if you can!
Have it with: Pan fried barramundi fillet (with sweet corn, kale, bacon crumble).
Mrs Sippy (Double Bay)
37 Bay St. Double Bay
This Eastern Suburbs staple has an interesting, sweet take on the classic, packing it full of flavour and naming it Woodpecker, set at $19 with coconut Tequila, wild mescal, pineapple syrup, lime, and a cinnamon sugar rim.
Have it with: Squid Ink Linguine (with tiger prawns, chorizo, confit tomato, chilli, and garlic)
El Loco (CBD, Surry Hills)
64 Foveaux St, Surry Hills + 111 Sussex St, Sydney
Merivale’s treasured Mexican brand has been keeping up to a high standard for years now, and there drink menu is a big reason for they has lasted this long. They have two margaritas on the menu, both made with 100% Blue agave Tequila. The first, Tommy’s Margarita is made with Olmeca Altos Reposado, fresh lime, and agave syrup, and the second, Jalapeno Margarita is a refreshing, spicy mix of Olmeca Altos Reposado, Cointreau, homemade jalapeno syrup, fresh lime juice, and a wash a Ilegal Mezcal. The latter is the finer of the two, but both are constant orders at the two venues.
Have it with: Fish Torta (Grilled whitefish, cabbage salad, pico de gallo, mayo on a soft bun)
El Topo (Bondi Junction)
3/500 Oxford St, Bondi Junction
On the top floor of The Eastern dining precinct sits El Topo, steady pumping out five different margaritas, all priced $16.50-$17.50. The classic is a no brainer but there’s also the japlapeno, tommy’s (classic with agave syrup), a chilli margarita, and – our favourite – the coconut margarita, made with 1800 coconut infused Tequila.
Have it with: Ceviche de pez real (kingfish ceviche with red onion, coriander, cherry tomato, radish, palm heart, and coconut foam.
Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel (Watsons Bay)
1 Military Road (corner of Marine Parade), Watsons Bay
This imposing bay-side mainstay go for the sweet and summer with their take on the classic, offering up a Grapefruit Margarita for $17 with Don Julio Tequila, Cointreau, and pink grapefruit. The added bonus to sipping away at this beautiful venue is that million-dollar view.
Have it with: Salmon Ceviche (with avocado, salsa, herb crostini)
Mejico (CBD, Miranda)
105 Pitt St, Sydney + Westfield Miranda, 2202, 3202/600 Kingsway, Miranda
They take their margaritas very seriously at Mejico, and serve up some of the best in town, with five different serves plus a DIY margarita options with your choice of their many Tequilas and Mezcals. We’ve got to go with the Mejico Signature here, set at $17 and using Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver with Triple Sec, fresh lemon, egg white, and agave, served in a salt-rimmed margarita glass.
Have it with: Lamb Abodo (Chargrilled Hunter Valley lamb, house-made chimmichurri, snow pea tendrils, and pickled onion.
Calaveras Mexican Cantina & Tequila Bar (Newtown)
1, 324A King St, Newtown
This relatively new Newtown restaurant is easy to get to, it’s right near the station, and it’s one of the most sightly new venues on the street. Dead of the Dead art illustrates this space, and the atmosphere is brimming with a lively sense of excitement. You’ll want to make a bee-line for the bar here because they have three different types of margaritas, an original, signature, and one which makes use of blood orange – our pick – named the Margarita Blood Orange, set at $16 with Tequila, Triple Sec, limes, and blood orange. Simple, refreshing, and very drinkable.
Have it with: Pork Quesadilla (Abodo marinated pulled pork with zingy pineapple chunks, fresh coriander, mozzarella, and salad).
Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining (CBD)
82 Elizabeth St, Sydney
Rabbit Hole Bar & Dining, off Elizabeth Street near Martin Place, is home to some of the most surprising and experimental cocktails in the city. Their endless creativity has resulted in a La Pinta’s Margarita which uses La Pinta, Sauza Gold, Pama, rose, lime, and geranium for $20. There’s also the Spherified Margarita Shot with Sauza Gold Tequila peals, Cointreau pearls, finger lime, and salt for $15.
Have it with: Crispy, twice cooked Pork Belly bites.
109 Regent St, Chippendale
Fredas is one of the inner cities most valuable party bars, with their commitment to the local community and constant flow of special events. On their drink menu you’ll find a punchy little number named the Machete for $18, with Jalapeno infused Traditional Tequila, guava, citrus, agave syrup, and a salted chilli rim.
Have it with: Za’atar Wings (with yoghurt, pomegranate, black sesame, and coriander)
All images supplied. Headline image credit: www.shake-that.com