Pucker up and squeeze some limes. February 22 is National Margarita Day in the USA and a Margarita is the number one top-selling cocktail in America.
It's official. It's got its own National Margarita Day website, Facebook page, plenty of media attention and sponsorships. Tequila distributors, brand ambassadors and bartenders are totally into it across all 50 states. And you can be, too. (P.S. Spoiler alert: there is no worm in the tequila bottle. If you see one, you're drinking the wrong brand.)
We are a nation of Margarita drinkers. Although tequila is crafted south of the border in Mexico, the United States is the number one tequila market, responsible for 76 percent of the stuff exported worldwide in 2011. That's a sharp rise from 46 percent in 2005. By 2012, our share had climbed again, to 80 percent, according to award-winning CRUZ Tequila. The Food Channel, quoting an industry survey, says that thirsty Americans are consuming 185,000 Margaritas per hour.
In the middle of winter? Isn't Margarita a summer drink? As the "Proudly Powered by Tequila" website points out, "In the darkness of winter, we need the citrus vitality and joyful fellowship of National Margarita Day all the more!" Why not?
Celebrities and Soaring Sales
Sales are soaring. Actor George Clooney and restauranteur Rande Gerber, husband of model Cindy Crawford, launched their own brand called Casamigos Tequila Blanco in 2013. But, it's small production and chances are unlikely you'll get near a bottle unless you go to the source in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico.
Food, glorious food
According to Jacques Bezuidenhout, a Partida tequila brand ambassador and master mixologist looking after 56 bars in trendy Kimpton Hotels nationwide, "No spirit pairs better with food than tequila. It stands up to the flavors of pork, steak and spicy chicken extremely well. You can go for a softer blanco with fish and vegetable dishes."
Margarita Day Needs Your Help
Here's a brief roundup of what's happening in a few bars and restaurants north, east, south and west in my own Margaritaville. What about yours? Perhaps $1 Margaritas, tequila tasting flights, a ladies' night, or free nachos for all?
Copita Tequileria y Comida is co-owned by TV presenter Joanne Weir who wrote the bible on tequila. Juan Carlos does his magic behind the bar with 100 selected tequila brands. We get to Sausalito across the Golden Gate Bridge or hope on a ferry to check out the view before grabbing a seat.
Tres Agaves in San Francisco's SoMA neighborhood is holding a Margarita Mix-Off for 10 bartenders on National Margarita Day. It's a secret ingredient challenge to complement their 100% agave creativity. Since it's people's choice, those attending will get the difficult judges' job.
Rogues Ales Public House in North Beach and 21st Amendment Brewery in South Beach are expecting lots of orders for Tres Agaves Margaritas on National Margarita Day.
Puerto Alegre and Velvet Cantina are on our Mission District list of favorites. We're spoiled for choice in this part of town, and usually feeling thirsty and happy, since it's always sunnier in the Mission.
Tia Margarita is 50 years young and still family-owned. They're obviously serious about the important job of making a very good meal and drink. We head due west and stop in San Francisco's Outer Richmond about a mile before the Pacific Ocean comes into view. Or, check out the surf and backtrack.
Mamacita in the Marina District is a long-time favorite for hand-crafted Margaritas. We select from 60 top-shelf bottles and engage in a bit of people-watching while sipping away and looking relaxed, but Northern California cool.
Simple Time-Saving Recipe:
Fresh Tres Agaves Margarita
2 ozs. Tres Agaves Tequila (Blanco, Reposado)
1 oz. Tres Agaves Organic Cocktail-Ready Nectar
1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
Mix ingredients, shake, pour over ice and uno-dos-tres-perfecto!
Salt the rim or add a fresh line wedge
CRUZ Apple Spice Margarita Recipe:
2 ozs. CRUZ SIlver Tequila
Splash of Peach Schnapps
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
4 ozs. apple cider
Shake with ice and serve over ice.
Garnish with apple slice and sugar/cinnamon rim