LA, in Margarita Mode

By Sean Kenniff


Sean Kenniff
Yael Vengroff's Sex Wax
Yael Vengroff's Sex Wax

Los Angeles has always been a fun place to quaff cocktails. The sunshine seems to permeate the darkest corners of the most dubious dives. But when we first embarked on our months long bar hop, we never expected to be swept up in a tidal wave of Margaritas—and gleefully so. Rising Star Bartender Yael Vengroff of The Spare Room even slides a decoy surfboard into her Margarita variation, The Sex Wax. These days, L.A. practically has a salt rim, and what better way to explore the pockets of personality and idiosyncrasy that is the L.A. bar scene than atop a wave of agave spirits. 

Name: The Other Margarita
Mode: Amaro Lovers 
Bartender: Brynn Smith | Sotto 
Notes from behind the stick: “The margarita is such a quintessential L.A. cocktail—for one, because our perfect weather and abundant citrus supply. Second, Mexican culture is so inspiring and all around us! At Sotto, I often wondered why so many people wanted to order a traditional Margarita at an Italian joint. It inspired me to make an Italian Margarita to pair with our cuisine. I think of it as the drink you would get if you ordered a Margarita in Italy.”  
Recipe: Slap 2 basil leaves. Add to shaker with ice along with ¾ ounce each Espolón tequila blanco, Nonino, Luxardo Amaro Abano, lime juice, and ½ ounce orange juice. Shake and strain into coupe; garnish with orange peel

Name: Coco-Nut Case
Mode: Island in the Sun
Establishment: Broken Shaker
Bartender: Christine Wiseman 
Notes from behind the stick: “Agave spirits have been trending for a while now in L.A. There are so many bars and restaurants with tequila lists that read like really amazing wine lists. The Margarita is a great platform to showcase the abundance of amazing produce here, as well as the bartender’s ability to create a balanced and delicious cocktail highlighting the beautiful agave spirit.”
Recipe: Salt the rim of a rocks glass with coconut-lime sea salt and fill with ice. To a shaker, add 1½ ounces Cabeza tequila blanco, ½ ounce Clément Mahina Coco liqueur, ¾ ounce lime juice, and ½ ounce makrut lime-infused agave. Shake and strain into glass. Garnish with makrut lime leaf and 2 lime wheels.​

Name: Saffron Lemonade
Mode: Hot Bod Elegance 
Establishment: Otium
Bartender: Chris Amirault 
Notes from behind the stick: “Well made margaritas are the perfect summer crusher. Blanco tequila paired with fresh lime and earthy, raw agave, and a touch of salt—what’s not to love? We go a step further with ours and add a floral note with the saffron and yellow chartreuse; grapefruit for more acid; and a hint of heat from the bird’s eye chile. My girlfriend is Indian, and her mom used to make saffron lemonade—the regular kind. This is our take on it, filling the tart, refreshing Margarita void.”
Recipe: To a shaker with ice, add 1½ ounces saffron-infused Espolón tequila blanco, ½ ounce yellow Chartreuse, ½ ounce lemon juice, ¾ ounce grapefruit juice, ½ ounce honey syrup, 2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters no. 6, and 1 dash bird’s eye chile tincture. Shake and strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with chamomile tea buds.  

Name: Mauresque-a-rita 
Mode: Poolside Crusher
Establishment: Petit Trois
Bartender: Courtney Rose
Notes from behind the stick: “The Maresque is a style of cocktail in France, traditionally made with pastis and orgeat. We’ve done a few variations here, like the Maresque-colada. Now we have the Margarita variations because … it’s L.A.”   
Recipe: Cover half the rim of a double Old Fashioned glass with citrus salt. Fill glass with ice. To a shaker with ice, add 1½ ounces Ocho tequila “Plata Puerta del Aire,” 1 ounce lime juice, ½ ounce Liquid Alchemist orgeat, ¼ ounce agave nectar, and ½ ounce Ricard pastis. Shake and strain into glass. Float 1 ounce Fever Tree club soda on top.

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