In case you are in Mexico Metropolis, ultimately you’ll have a Margarita. That is the town of Tequila Tuesdays and Jueves de Mezcales. That is the town of the all-day bender, of the perennial completely satisfied hour. This, too, is Hangover Metropolis, and hangovers, it’s identified, require early-morning Margaritas. You might have your Margarita at some impossible-to-get desk at Pujol, or within the bar upstairs in ultraposh Rosetta; you could have it by the gallon at abject road bars for lower than 100 pesos; or you could have it in a can labeled El Jimador New Combine, out of the fridge at iconic Mexican grocery retailer Oxxo. (It’s $1 and a assured headache.)
However wait, what’s a Margarita? That is what we expect we all know: A Margarita is an alcoholic drink that comprises tequila, lime juice, triple sec or one other orange liqueur or sweetener and ice. However in right now’s Mexico Metropolis, as quickly as you increase your rocks glass, or pink plastic cup or treasured coupe, certainties fade away. “What then is time?” Augustine is reported to have written. “If nobody asks me, I do know what it’s. If I want to clarify it to him who asks, I have no idea.”
Chilango actuality is fluent, unstable. So, too, is the Margarita. It’s a recreation of shifting mirrors, a Lego set of movable components. ¿De qué tiene Margaritas? (“What sort of Margaritas do you will have?”) is a standard query at any bar. Bartenders could reply with a tamarind Margarita, chamoy Margarita or a hibiscus Margarita. Think about the Margarita on the upscale Quintonil in Polanco: It comes frozen in a Martini glass, fragrant with clove and mint, sweetened with sugar and just a bit Controy (successfully Mexican Cointreau), infused with purple basil. Is it a Margarita? In Mexico Metropolis, as in america, the boundaries of the drink are flexed to the purpose of rupture. However it’s not these Margaritas that make the drink’s essence a matter of philosophical questioning. It’s the delicate methods during which the drink shape-shifts within the metropolis’s bars and cantinas that make it an enigma.
In Mexico Metropolis the boundaries of the Margarita are flexed to the purpose of rupture.
Simply behind the Nationwide Cathedral, within the historic middle of this immense metropolis, there’s a small marisquería: Itacate del Mar. It’s a blue terrazzo cubicle with a few tall tables inside, and a few seats on the sidewalk, trying indiscreetly on the decrease again of the cathedral. There are at the least three Margaritas on the menu there: the Margarita, the Margarita Dragones (a Margarita scaled up with tequila Dragones) and the Margarita mezcal, which incorporates a mixture of citrus juices—orange, lime, pink grapefruit—sweetened with agave honey and served on the rocks in an Outdated-Usual glass rimmed with powdered chile. It’s delicate, balanced between sweetness, acidity, bitterness. Let’s not overlook that tequila and mezcal are radically completely different drinks. One could also be sharp, the opposite spherical; one could remind you of baked agave, the opposite of fermented pineapple. One could add a punch within the intestine, the opposite a gloved slap to the face. The Margarita mezcal is the latter.
A bartender pours a Margarita at Itacate del Mar, the place there are at the least three variations of the drink on the menu.
Town can be filled with Margaritas for the classically skilled, hewing solely to the Margarita’s core components, and but every is idiosyncratic within the subtlest of how—from the titanic por litro Margaritas on the chelerías on Calle Regina, to the illicit Margaritas served in plastic cups out of grocery store carts on the road within the Tepito neighborhood.
Ask round and Chilangxs will in all probability let you know that the very best basic Margaritas (and, by the best way, the very best dry Martinis) are served at San Ángel Inn, within the western a part of the San Ángel neighborhood. The restaurant was once the Hacienda de los Goicoechea. It was constructed within the yr of the Indigenous riot of 1692. Since then, it has housed the Spanish embassy; was headquarters for the battle of Chapultepec in 1847; was, because the identify suggests, an inn; and, because the Nineteen Sixties, has operated as a restaurant.
We’ll get to the Margaritas in a minute, however first: San Ángel Inn’s patio is certainly one of Mexico Metropolis’s most lovely areas. This can be a backyard of synesthetic qualities: Flowers appear to be butterflies, birds appear to develop from the bushes, bushes appear to have been born out of a small hen’s nest. It’s crowded with low tables the place one is anticipated to order Margaritas whereas ready for a desk inside. These are extraordinarily chilly Margaritas, made solely with reposado tequila, lime juice and triple sec. They arrive on the desk in small metallic flasks saved in copper buckets of ice. The waiter will pour them slightly at a time into Martini glasses rimmed with salt, with a small twist of lime on the backside. This Margarita is leisurely, elegant.
Bar Isabel is a cantina as old-school as they arrive.
“We will make a banana Margarita, if you would like it,” a bartender on the minuscule Bar Isabel advised me the opposite day. “However I’d fairly serve you an actual Margarita.” Tequila, lime, Controy, salt, slightly ice and nothing else. Bar Isabel is a cantina as old-school as they arrive in Mexico Metropolis. Even the big, curved hurricane glasses look as in the event that they’ve been right here because the ’70s. They in all probability have. (Alternatively, you may ask for a champagne coupe, or copa champañera, to your Margarita. Simply don’t ask for mezcal; they don’t serve that right here.) Bar Isabel is a ravishing, terrifying mixture of pale yellow partitions, darkish inexperienced tabletops, black stools and sizzling canine–pink flooring, and its patrons have been coming right here for many years for the no-nonsense drinks. Its Margarita is the type that may remind you of the times earlier than the cocktail renaissance.
Cantina Covadonga makes conventional margaritas for a boho crowd.
Cantina Covadonga, only a 12-minute trip on the pink prepare (Línea 1) from Bar Isabel, is equally caught in time, even when they cater to a far youthful, far noisier crowd. (Generally there’s even a DJ on the again.) Covadonga’s Margarita can be classically constructed, nevertheless it arrives in a big Martini glass full of crushed ice, alongside a small plate of lime quarters. It’s a standard Margarita however for a boho crowd, a gateway to basic mixology. Ask for a set of dominoes at Covadonga and kill off a day.
In spite of everything, a Margarita is a drink by which to get drunk. In contrast to a single glass of wine, or a Scotch on the rocks, in a Margarita it’s the thrill we’re after. We settle for and develop keen on its style as a result of of the emotional stirring of its results. (Ask anybody in Cabo San Lucas or Cancún.) However there’s additionally the kind of the Margarita. Agave spirit, acid, sweetener. A Margarita is compact, like a sonnet. It accepts change however no rebuttals. It fosters variation however inside a really particular vary. Additionally it is a disposition, a temper. If you concentrate on it, a Margarita is extra an concept than a cocktail. I take that again: It’s much less an concept than an excellent, Platonic at its core. And we, mere people on this world of shifting mirrors, are ever in pursuit of it.