The margarita was invented in Mexico, but no one is sure exactly who first shook up this famous fiesta refreshment. Some say Baja bartender Carlos “Danny” Herrera created it in 1938, while others claim it was Dallas socialite Margaret Sames who first mixed tequila with Cointreau and lime juice while on vacation in Acapulco in the 1940s. 

Whatever the case, this palate-puckering, yet wonderfully pleasing cocktail is now one of the most popular drinks served at bars in the United States and at resorts across Mexico.

Savour how the sweet citrus kiss of Cointreau (an orange liqueur) and a touch of agave syrup balances with tart, refreshing lime juice and the strong roasted agave, citrus and honey notes of a tequila such as Patrón Reposado. 

Though a margarita can be made with any tequila, it’s important to choose a good brand to avoid the bitter burn you may recall from university encounters with the spirit. Patrón Reposado, made from 100 per cent Weber blue agave that’s grown in the Jalisco highlands east of Guadalajara, is a good bet. There, Mexican jimadors still hand-harvest the ripe agave by lopping off its leaves and unearthing the plant from the red soil to expose its heart. 

The “pina” hearts are transported to the Patrón distillery in Atotonilco El Alto, where the agave is roasted the traditional way, in brick ovens, for 79 hours. Then its sweet juices are extracted by a combination of roller and tahona mills before being fermented, double-distilled and, finally, aged in oak barrels to become smooth and cocktail-worthy.

Whether you’re enjoying your margarita while gazing out at the Caribbean Sea or sipping it someplace far from the beach, chances are high you’ll find this cocktail is a bit like the Lay’s potato chip of sips: you can’t drink just one. 

Recipe: Patrón Margarita

1 ½ oz. Patrón Reposado tequila

¾ oz. Patrón Citrónge orange liqueur

¾ oz. fresh lime juice

¼ oz. agave nectar

Lime wheel to garnish

Method: Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and then strain into an ice-filled rocks glass (salt the rim of the glass beforehand, if desired). Garnish with a lime wheel. —Recipe courtesy Patrón

This article appears in the August 2016 issue of WestJet Magazine.