National Margarita Day: A Story of Trial and Error

I pinch. I squeeze. I do these things to fruit. Then I add sugar and booze and it is good most of the time. That is the way I always treated tequila, until recently.

Other than occasionally catching a hipster trying to order a tequila & tonic (from the gun, I might add), tequila cocktails are pretty much a rarity outside of “a shot” (not a cocktail), tequila sunrise (questionable), or, of course, the margarita. Tequila is a pretty versatile spirit, so I decided to mess with it some. Not like a remake of Red Dawn type-of-fucking-with; file that under things that should not be, er..  fucked with, along with Pappy 15, 20, or 23- but maybe adding a little oak to my blanco friend amongst other “company” would make for an interesting drink. So I did a bit of research. And I drank some tequila in the process.

This story actually begins with these awesome little barrel-aged cocktail bottles, because I had no idea what the fuck I was going to put in them at first. For the margarita project, I was going to need a recipe that was spirit-based, so I could just add in the citrus component when it was ready to go over ice. You’d be amazed how many cocktails involve some type of juice added to a single base liquor. Well, probably not. But it’s true for tequila, there isn’t a ton of stuff on the books. Maraschino seemed interesting, but boring at the same time. Palabra última anyone?

I needed something different, something that played off the flavors that the American oak was going to lend, but also had to have a little bit of sweetness so I could avoid sugar altogether. Then I found it: La Perla. Thanks to The PDT Cocktail Book, which I recommend you go and buy immediately, this was just the approach I was looking for to put the honeycomb stave to work for me. The mixture consists of tequila, sherry, and pear liqueur. Originally it called for a reposado, but I used blanco as I knew it would be sitting around for a while. One month in (and about halfway there), I decided to give it a spin.

Guess what? It was yummy. Still, I felt something was missing, as the strength was likely sacrificed by the lower proof of the sherry and pear components. So I am going to go buy some strong añejo to float on the top the next go-around. Certainly a work in progress, but I should have all the kinks worked out just in time for the arrival of better weather.

I encourage you to do the same with your homemade drinks; go try and make your own twist on something, maybe not with all the effort I put forth, but try something new. You know what you like. Make it taste good. Happy margarita day.

About Jim Halligan


Jim is a modern day conquistador. When not teaching his three parrots to speak Italian, he spends time poking flags in things and calling them his own.