ORIGINAL SPIRITS: THE ‘RITA

ORIGINAL SPIRITS: THE ‘RITA Tuesday, August 23, 2011

As we’ve written before, no one can claim with certainty just when or where the the first Margarita was first made, nor, for that matter, who first made it.

However, all signs indicate that it likely crafted prior to or just after the the congressional enactment of Prohibition and was probably first dreamt up near, or in, Tijuana, invariably by a barman inspired by a women so beautiful that she could make the most gormless of fellas freely rolls his Rrrrrrs.

One legend incorporating all of these details—and the one that we’re sticking with—points to a young dancer who often traveled during that time from Southern California to Tijuana to perform at a nightclub. Her name was Margarita Cansino, but she would soon be known to the world as the fiery-haired actor and Hollywood pin-up, Rita Hayworth.

And in the decades that followed, whether Hayworth was or was not the original muse, the simple Margarita has now become a beloved favorite of cocktail aficionados on either side of the Rio Grande.

But like any good thing worth drinking (or eating), it’s not necessarily how closely you hew to that drink’s parameters that matters, but how far you can faithfully travel beyond the original recipe.

We make our Rita-inspired ‘Rita with Leyenda del Milagro Blanco, a 100 percent blue agave Tequila known for its citrusy notes and it’s slight peppery bite.

To that, of course, we add the requisite juice from freshly squeezed limes, but from there, we work to make sure that our Margarita is not just a good one, but a better, more memorable one.

For instance, we craft and add to it our own housemade Triple Sec (made from grain alcohol, sugar and orange zest), as well as a dash of Saint Germain elderflower liqueur.

Of course, we often drink with our eyes first, so presentation, too, plays an important part. That’s why we’ve dipped the glass’s rim in agave nectar, and why we’ve chose to dip just a crescent of the rim’s circumference in Maldon salt.

Mix it all together, pour over the rocks, spray in a spritz or two of Orange Flower Water and garnish it with an origami-like, flower-shaped candied orange rind and, serve.

If you haven’t yet tried one—it’s still a new presence on our freshly updated drinks menu—we’re pretty certain you’ll enjoy the subtleties of this artfully prepared and reimagined Margarita.

And as a reminder: our ‘Rita is just one of the 20 original and modern cocktails and housemade sodas that comprise our passport program. Remember, if you try all 20, then an “Ice Cream Social” for you and nine of your friends could be on us.