One tequila, two tequila 

Margarita at Casa Perico
Credit: Mark Hancock

Stories of how the tequila-based cocktail was created are remarkably numerous. The venerable Smithsonian magazine attempted to sift through the urban myths, but the best it could do was narrow it down to a couple of possibilities and the certainty that the drink was invented in the Western Hemisphere in the 20th century.

So much for historical certainty.

The traditional

Kyle Fleischfresser, beverage director for Western Concepts, which owns Coach House, The Lobby Bar, Musashi’s and Sushi Neko, said that the original margarita is popular once again.

“The drink everyone is now calling a ‘skinny margarita’ is a margarita,” he said. “It’s a 5-ounce cocktail made of tequila, lime juice and Triple Sec at a proportion of 3-to-2-to-1.”

Fleischfresser said he typically prefers Espolon or Herradura tequila, but The Lobby Bar, 4322 N. Western, will make margaritas to order.

“If people ask for a margarita, we make it the traditional way,” Fleischfresser said. “But we will substitute Cointreau or Grand Marnier for Triple Sec. I just prefer Triple Sec because it adds a touch of bitterness.”

Triple Sec is different than other orange liqueurs inasmuch as it’s made from the peels of sweet and bitter oranges found on the Caribbean island of Curacao. The taste is
distinctive, which you would expect when the recipe is so specific.

Iguana Mexican Grill, 9 N.W.

Ninth, also makes a classic margarita. Iguana’s bar manager, Rebecca Daley, said the restaurant’s basic recipe is a house-made sweet-and-sour, Triple Sec and Manik silver tequila.

“We use reposados (rested) and anejos (aged) to do our handmade margaritas, too,” Daley said. “We can sub Grand Marnier or Cointreau on request, and those liqueurs do give the margarita a richer taste.”


Margarita recipes have diversified as the cocktail has grown in popularity. The drink was traditionally served over ice or straight up. Frozen margaritas exploded after 1971.

When Mariano Martinez invented the frozen margarita machine in Dallas in 1971, he probably didn’t foresee how ubiquitous his creation would become.

Rather than bartenders laboriously grinding ice and ingredients in a blender one drink at a time, the frozen margarita dispenser allowed restaurants to increase sales while decreasing labor and time.

One variation the machines made easier is the swirl. The Mont, 1300 Classen Blvd. in Norman, has long been known for its combination of frozen margarita and frozen sangria. It’s a refreshing combination of sweet, tart and bitter, and for summer days on The Mont’s excellent patio, the swirl is the perfect choice.

Other variations on the base recipe adhere closer to the original. Mark’s margarita at Charleston’s, 5907 Northwest Expressway, is allegedly named for a bartender who invented the drink and includes Tuaca, the Italian liqueur, which adds a little vanilla and caramel to the mix.

Other variations can include flavored tequilas, orange juice, a splash of Sprite or 7UP and even fresh fruit, in addition to the lime wedge.

Mama Roja, 9219 E. Lake Hefner Parkway, uses habanero- or strawberryinfused Patron to make interesting variations, or stay classic at Casa Perico, 4521 N.W. 63rd, with a no-frills, fullflavor margarita.

The possibilities are endless.

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Greg Horton

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