Excited for Cinco de Mayo? Us, too. Want to upgrade your margarita and make it more quickly, without buying boring Triple Sec? Right this way.
Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States.
Getty Images/Julien McRoberts
| Credit: Getty Images/Julien McRoberts

Repeat after me: One, two, four. 1-2-4: Memorize that ratio, and you’ve got the very best margarita recipe—agave nectar, lime juice, and tequila—at your disposal at all times. It’s called a Tommy’s Margarita, it involves only three ingredients, and it is divine.

Though it’s a beloved recipe in the cocktail community, purists will quibble about even calling Tommy’s a margarita. “There’s no Triple Sec or Cointreau in there!” Psshht. What it is is delicious, insanely simple, and a delight. The brainchild of San Francisco bartender Julio Bermejo, who concocted it more than two decades ago in an attempt to avoid triple sec’s overwhelming flavor, it has silky texture and a flavor that is a hymn to the blue agave plant at the heart of the drink. (Both agave nectar and pure tequila are made from the plant.) Think: lightly sweet balanced with pure sour, plus a seductive hit of tequila.

Fresh lime juice, agave nectar, and a solid, 100-percent agave tequila are the keys to this recipe. I’ve shaken bunches of these up at parties, squeezing all the juice in advance, and everyone marveled that it was among the best margaritas they’d had. There’s something about removing that orange flavor of Cointreau or Triple Sec from the equation that just works, and cutting sugar out of the equation makes your bar cleaner, to boot.

So if you don’t have one, buy a hand juicer on the cheap, and look for pure, 100-percent agave tequila as opposed to mixto (which is not made from pure agave) tequila. Espolòn makes excellent blanco and reposado tequilas that retail for about $23 in pricey Brooklyn, New York. Blanco is the typical go-to for upscale margs, but I am also a fan of reposado, which has been aged in oak for two months to a year and thus lends an almost smoky, buttery undertone to the cocktail. As for agave nectar, I am less fussy than I once was, and currently use Domino’s $3 organic blue agave “amber” nectar in iced coffee and margs alike.

You can salt your glass, if you like, but I suggest you follow this smart GQ writer’s advice and try it at least once neat—without ice. The only challenge will be sipping slowly.

Tommy’s Margarita

  • 2 ounces 100% agave tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • Salt (optional)

Rim cold glass with wet lip with salt, if desired. Shake ingredients with ice until very cold and strain into a chilled cocktail or Old Fashioned glass.

Alex Van Buren is a food and travel writer living in Brooklyn, New York whose work has appeared in Gourmet.com, Bon Appétit, Travel & Leisure, New York Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and Epicurious. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @alexvanburen.