Read The Room Before Ordering Margaritas At A Mexican Restaurant

In a cocktail popularity contest, the much-loved margarita might just steal the show. As the most-ordered mixed drink in the United States, it enjoys a reputation as an incredibly versatile, approachable beverage for lovers of sweet, citrusy, and spicy cocktails alike. Because ingredients, ratios, flavors, and pre-mixed margaritas can vary greatly in style and quality, it's important to know what to expect when ordering. To gauge a restaurant's margaritas, be prepared to ask some clarifying questions: Does the establishment use a store-bought mix, or does it make drinks to order? What kind of tequila does it use? Is it sweet, spicy, or booze-forward? Shaken or stirred?

As a general rule, if the restaurant doesn't have a bar, its margaritas are likely made with a mix. Knowing what to look for and which questions to ask will help set your expectations, and prevent you from paying for a drink you won't enjoy. A margarita made from a mix will often be sweeter and less boozy, while a shaken one will be more frothy, and a stirred one will be smooth.

Mixed up or made to order

The most telling question to ask about a restaurant's margaritas is whether they are made to order, or from a pre-made mix. And before we yuck anyone's yum, let's get one thing straight: There is nothing wrong with drinking cocktails made from a mix! The "right" way to drink anything is however you like it best, so if you prefer a sweeter, less booze-forward drink, you might be fine ordering from a place that uses a margarita mix. If you enjoy the taste of tequila and favor citrus-centric flavors, you will likely prefer a margarita that's made to order.

Some restaurants and bars also make their margarita mixes in-house, which can be less predictable than store-bought ones. In this case, it's helpful to ask about the ingredients and the drink's strength. A traditional margarita is fairly simple, needing only three things: tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur. Some people add a touch of agave nectar or simple syrup to balance the tart, acidic flavors of the lime juice and spirits. Many places adhere to the golden ratio of cocktails, balancing booze with sweet and sour flavors.

Shaken or stirred

If you tend to avoid pre-mixed margaritas and find yourself at a restaurant with a bar that makes margaritas by hand, you might have a whole new set of questions. Should you order your margarita shaken or stirred? Is the lime juice freshly squeezed, and should that matter? What kind of tequila goes into the drinks? Any bartender worth their salt will know when to use aƱejo versus reposado tequila in a cocktail, but if you have a preference, don't be afraid to make a request. It also pays to do a quick scan of the bar for limes, as they add a bright, fresh acidity to drinks that is lost with bottled lime juice.

Texture is almost as important as flavor when it comes to mixed drinks. You can easily upgrade your beverage choice with a shaken margarita, as it will be aerated and slightly effervescent. Shaking also helps integrate the margarita's bold flavors. A stirred cocktail is less agitated and therefore smoother, allowing the flavors to find a more delicate balance and providing a more elegant cocktail experience. Knowing what to look for and ask for is key to ordering a drink you are sure to enjoy!