People like to play with their food. So the classic ’rita has been subject to experiment, especially to Celebrate Cinco De Mayo. Although purists wouldn’t call these margaritas, the basic drink invites both skilled and misguided bartenders to mess with the basics. Sometimes to good effect, sometimes to disaster. You decide. Celebrate Cinco De Mayo with 24 variations on the classic margarita.

celebrate cinco de mayoThe Good. The Bad. And Ugly. 

Bad: Swap out the lime juice for Godiva liqueur, use Hershey’s syrup and a crushed Oreo cookie rim on the glass.

Jorge Fierro’s Rico makes the “R&R” adding a raspberry-rosemary puree and a sugar rim.

Good: Muddled grilled pineapple and jalapeno with cilantro

Good: Rim glass with Tajin—hot pepper powder

Good: Substitute half of the lime juice with pink grapefruit juice

Lake Effect’s “El Salvador” mixes dry vermouth, cointreau, cucumber, lime and honey with blanco tequila.

Bad: A beer version: Use frozen limeade, 12 oz tequila, 12 oz water, 1 can of beer.

Good: Sub in blue Curacao for the
triple sec

Chimayo in Park City’s pomegranate version is a fave: Use pomegranate juice and garnish with seeds.

Good: Mix crushed and strained watermelon with the usual ingredients

Ugly: “The Guinness” calls for 1 cup lemon gelato, 1 can Nitro IPA Guinness, with a salted rim; garnish with lemon slice

Taqueria 27 makes a “Mexican Mule”: 1.5 oz tequila, ginger beer and lime juice over ice.

El Chihuahua’s famous “Death Star” ups the impact with a dose of Everclear added to the mix.

Ugly: Add an ounce of kale juice and some orange juice to sweeten.


Bad: White wine margarita—really??—uses orange juice concentrate, fresh lemon and lime juices, sugar, triple sec and white wine.

Mandarin in Bountiful makes a “Gingerita” to complement their Chinese food.

Good: Substitute mezcal for the tequila and add a drip or two of agave syrup. Rim the glass in a mixture of salt and smoked paprika.

White Horse’s “Spicy Margarita” adds Creme de Cacao, lime, dry Curacao and habanero bitters.

Good: Add 2 ounces blood orange juice to basic recipe.

Alamexo serves a traditional Mexican damiana margarita—damiano is a plant used to make a sweet, herbal liquor.

Bad: Replace Cointreau with mango liqueur and a dash of hot sauce.

Good: Muddle jalapeno slices in the bottom of the shaker, add rest of ingredients and strain.

Ugly: Add 2 oz. green tea liqueur and a teaspoon of Rose’s lime juice.

At Water Witch, the bartenders can make a classic margarita or you can trust them to make their own idiosyncratic mix.

Hard and Fast Rules

1. Never use sweet and sour mix.

2. Always use decent tequila—good tequila means you don’t need agave or simple syrup.

3. Always use fresh-squeezed lime juice.

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