Tommy's Margarita

A few years ago I decided to learn how to make some classic cocktails. It is a very rewarding hobby.

Of all of the drinks that I have learned to make, by far the biggest crowd pleaser is the Tommy's margarita. It is surprisingly easy, and is guaranteed to delight guests. It's also a great introduction to cocktail making in general.

A tasty looking margarita in a moderately fancy cocktail glass

The Tommy's margarita is a San Francisco drink. It was created by Tommy's Mexican Restaurant, a charming family Mexican restaurant over in the Richmond district which opened in 1965. They have one of the largest tequila collections in the USA, and they will make you a margarita from any of them.

That's the first lesson of the Tommy's margarita: no tequila is too good for it, and the better the tequila the better the drink.


The ingredients are simple: freshly squeezed lime juice, agave syrup and a good reposado (rested) or añejo (aged) tequila. I've been using Partida Añejo and it's fantastic. I've also had great results from Patron Añejo (which is more widely available) and 1800 Reposado.

For equipment: a cocktail shaker (I like two tins, not a tin-and-a-glass), a lime squeezer, a strainer and a glass. And plenty of ice.

Also required: jiggers for measuring. Good craft cocktails require accurate measurement. Don't be tempted to eyeball.

The drink is constructed in the shaker. Always start with the cheapest ingredients - that way mistakes are less expensive.

Fill a shaker tin about a third of the way with ice. Any ice will do - save the fancy stuff for drinks that are presented with it (I serve my margaritas without ice). I use about five ice cubes per drink.

Or for a more detailed, expert guide to shaking, consult this guide on Serious Eats.

But... a chilled glass makes for a better drink. Glasses will chill in the freezer surprisingly quickly - dropping some in the ice tray when you start making the drink (or a few minutes beforehand) is enough to effectively chill them.

Now add the following for each drink. I usually make two at a time.

Shake vigorously, for about 15 seconds. The trick with shaking is to let the ice do the work, by ensuring the ice is traveling the entire volume of the shaker. Then strain into a chilled glass.

You could add a salt rim to the glass before serving, but I don't do that: this margarita stands on its own. I think the salt spoils the flavor.

And that's it! Once you have the equipment together you can knock out a great drinks in just a couple of minutes.

(This TIL adapted from a team-building workshop I gave at work a few years ago.)

Created 2022-10-02T12:03:37-07:00, updated 2022-10-02T13:29:00-07:00 · History · Edit