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Margarita etiquette
June 1, 2009 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Is there a proper etiquette for drinking a salt-rimmed margarita - especially when served with a straw? Am I doin it rong?

I love margaritas; they're my favorite cocktail and a special summer pleasure. But what I love about them, specifically, is the mix of a few grains of crunchy crushed salt from the rim combined with citrusy-sweet liquid. Margaritas taste best to me when both flavors combine in each sip.

Because of this I have been known to lick salt from the rim of the glass, or rotate the glass so I can sip all the way around the rim and eventually get all the salt. But I feel self-conscious doing this. Especially when they serve the drink with a straw, which would indicate that you're expected just to draw liquid through the straw and be satisfied with whatever hints of salt fall into the drink and dissolve.

I'm worried that I'm being gauche in my ardent pursuit of the salt-citrus combo. Is there a right way to do this? There are a lot of cocktails these days with something (salt, brown sugar, flavored sugar, etc) on the rim. If you see people discarding the straw and drinking from the rim of the glass, do you point and laugh? Is there any sort of consensus on polite ways to imbibe cocktails with some sort of flavoring on the rim? T
posted by Miko to Food & Drink (48 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm with you on the salt and I drink those exactly the same way you do. Do what you like, a margarita is a party in a glass. Go crazy.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 9:39 AM on June 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I am no ettiquette expert, maybe people point and laugh at me when I am out for a margarita, but I just either lick the salt and then sip through the straw, or hold the straw to the side and sip.

I'll watch this post to see if there is a right way to do this. Come on, the salt is the best part!
posted by teragram at 9:39 AM on June 1, 2009


I skip the straw and rotate the glass - I can't imagine how else you'd do it!
posted by robinpME at 9:41 AM on June 1, 2009


I have always drunk my margaritias directly from the salt-encrusted rim of the glass and no one has said anything to me yet. That may be because I am a large and intimidating man who is drinking tequila, or it may be that I seem to know what I'm doing when I drink a margarita.
I could be wrong, but after approximately 59,047,309,827 margaritas on the rocks my research is still in its infancy.
I'll let you know when it's conclusive.
posted by Floydd at 9:41 AM on June 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


When I've finished the salt on my glass I go for the salt on my boyfriend's glass. No shame.
posted by collocation at 9:44 AM on June 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm no etiquette expert either, but if we're taking a survey, I also remove the straw first, and rotate the glass after each sip or two to get a bit of salt with each sip.

[I do believe that margaritas on the rocks are far far superior to "frozen" "margaritas," but that's not what you asked about.]
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:48 AM on June 1, 2009


To my mind, the straw is for stirring. Drinking margarita's out of a straw is for sissies. The salt is essential so usually I take a sip and rotate it slightly when I put it down so that the next time I pick it up the portion of the rim facing me has salt on it.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:49 AM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Drink them however you like. I tease fresh mint out of glasses with a stirrer or straw after I finish drinks made with them.
posted by brujita at 9:49 AM on June 1, 2009


Use the straw to stir the margarita and then put it on the napkin. If you sip out of the rim with the straw still in the glass, it pokes you in the nose. Now that it's out of the way, sip your way around the rim. When you're out of salt you're probably ready for another drink!
posted by Kangaroo at 9:49 AM on June 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Actually, I wouldn't do the licking thing. Aside from that, the salt is there to combine with the flavor of the margarita, and there's no problem with rotating the glass. The straw is there merely as an option.
posted by lore at 9:50 AM on June 1, 2009


I drink mine the same way and I've never noticed anyone pointing and laughing at me. That's not to say that I haven't just been oblivious. I'm trying to call to mind what I've seen other people do while drinking a margarita, and I'm pretty sure your method is the one most commonly employed in my (gauche?) circle.
posted by Maisie at 9:51 AM on June 1, 2009


I rotate to get the beverage + salt in every taste.
posted by mmascolino at 9:56 AM on June 1, 2009


Ditch the straw. Drink from any side of the glass you want. If you're worried about appearing sophisticated you should probably be drinking wine :)
posted by doctor_negative at 10:02 AM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I go for the salt too! God I love Margaritas. Mine have to be frozen though. I normally get the sugar free mix and the bottle with the little Mexican hat(El Torro?) on it (plus limes and triplesec.) Argh it's only Monday.... Thanks Metafilter >:>(
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:09 AM on June 1, 2009


It's already a gauche drink, so it doesn't matter.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:16 AM on June 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


That salt ain't there to be pretty.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:25 AM on June 1, 2009


Jesus, what? Then call me gauche; I don't give a shit: margaritas are a wonderful thing. The secondary point I would agree with, though--drink them however you like. There's no wrong way.
posted by Skot at 10:29 AM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Especially when they serve the drink with a straw, which would indicate that you're expected just to draw liquid through the straw

I would not reach that conclusion; I would assume that the server just doesn't feel like making a return trip in case someone does end up wanting a straw. Easier to just bring everything in one go. And, as others have said, they're good for stirring.

Another glass-rotating-salt-sipper here.
posted by rkent at 10:38 AM on June 1, 2009


You're drinking it exactly right. You are supposed to drink it in the way that makes you happiest. In fact, don't they ask, "Frozen or on the rocks" and then immediately "Salt or no salt"? So, consuming the salt is exactly right for you.

I think the straw is for stirring, or people who have sensitive teeth, or people who like brain freeze.

Margaritas are not gauche.
posted by Houstonian at 10:39 AM on June 1, 2009


I'm mostly used to margaritas being served without any straw at all, which would seem to imply that the straw is superfluous, or at least not needed for proper enjoyment of the drink.

Perhaps this is a topic best researched at a meetup? Who's with me?
posted by gingerbeer at 10:47 AM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


My friend wrote a book about cocktails, which unfortunately for my answering this question is on another continent right now. However, I remember that she talks about two types of non-liquid additions to drinks: garnish and garbage. The garnish is something that is integral to the enjoyment of the drink: the olive or lemon twist in the martini. Garbage is something that is edible, but there more for the decoration than the enhancement of flavour.

Salt with a margarita is clearly garnish, and so should be enjoyed with the drink. Toss the straw and go for it.
posted by carmen at 11:04 AM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's already a gauche drink, so it doesn't matter.

I love Margaritas but I agree with this. Not meant or said dismissively but rather that Margaritas aren't in the class of formal drinks where there is a strong opinion as to a right way or wrong way.

It's a party drink. Once you have a drink with a straw in it and salt/sugar on the rim, you're probably not in a social situation where anyone is concerned with drinking etiquette.
posted by vacapinta at 11:05 AM on June 1, 2009


Who are these cocktail imperialists forcing straws on you? Rise up, sibling, and throw off the yoke of strawpression. Shout arriba after each lickslurp and really rub their noses in it.
posted by Askr at 11:07 AM on June 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


The only time you need a straw is with a frozen margarita. Which is an abomination. Therefore, never the straw.
posted by zennie at 11:15 AM on June 1, 2009


Aw, I sometimes get served whiskey neat with a cocktail stirrer in it. Assume that the straw is either a reflex or a disposable swizzle stick.
posted by desuetude at 11:16 AM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Skip the straw, and just sip and rotate. This way you're not obviously licking the salt.

If you're with friends and don't have to impress anyone with your etiquette then by all means, lick the salt if you want to! I definitely prefer licking the salt and then taking a sip than sipping through the salt.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 12:08 PM on June 1, 2009


I have teeth that are really sensitive to cold (so much so that a non-strawwed drink isn't worth drinking for me), so I use the straw. But I love salt. So SOMETIMES I will use my finger to get some salt and lick my finger, then take a sip.

I'm all class, people. All class.
posted by AlisonM at 12:08 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Oh, and do what you like. No one's paying that much attention anyway, and if they are, screw 'em. And if I had to guess a correct way to drink it, you're drinking it right.)
posted by AlisonM at 12:09 PM on June 1, 2009


A straw is an option, not a mandate.

Your margarita-drinking style is perfectly genteel.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:10 PM on June 1, 2009


By all means, remove the straw. If you're sharing a pitcher and using the same glass multiple times, I'd even go so far as to say that you're allowed to smudge salt onto the glass with your hands. After a few rounds, the civility tends to become less important.
posted by nomad at 12:18 PM on June 1, 2009


Thanks to all. I feel much better knowing that I'm not alone in my style of enjoyment.

It really was the straw that confused me - and honestly, yes, I think desuetude has it: either a reflex or a swizzle stick. I will henceforth cast out straws and enjoy my salt-rotation method.

As far as gauche - doesn't concern me. This is a cocktail that's over 50 years old, so its appeal is not faddish, and I drink wine, bourbon neat, Manhattans, old-fashioneds, and other cocktails as well, so it's not that I fear I'm lacking sophistication. I just started to wonder, after being presented with another strawed glass last weekend, if there was something I was missing.
posted by Miko at 12:52 PM on June 1, 2009


The only etiquette involved in margaritas is that you're obligated to enjoy yourself. Lick away!
posted by Space Kitty at 1:41 PM on June 1, 2009


Lick that rim with aplomb!

TheOnlyCoolTim: It's already a gauche drink, so it doesn't matter.

vacapinta: It's a party drink. Once you have a drink with a straw in it and salt/sugar on the rim, you're probably not in a social situation where anyone is concerned with drinking etiquette.

Uh, what? A frozen margarita, or one made with mix, perhaps, but a real margarita, made from top shelf tequila and fresh lime, is certainly not gauche.
posted by mkultra at 2:24 PM on June 1, 2009


Agreed, mkultra. This isn't about top shelf margaritas. The ones at Tommy's are one of the most sublime I've ever tasted. Here's what Julio Bermejo has to say about Salt:

"Tequila Expert Julio Bermejo, of Tommy's Bar in San Francisco is of the opinion that Salt only serves to hide the inferior flavour of bad Margaritas. If people insist on Salt, then he will only coat half the glass, so that they can still taste the drink without salt."
posted by vacapinta at 3:37 PM on June 1, 2009


This isn't about top shelf margaritas.

I take exception to this and to the cited 'tequila expert,' whose authority on this issue I don't recognize. I prefer the flavor of the tequila to be in balance with the juice and the salt in a margarita; otherwise, you are getting father away from what a margarita is: a cocktail.

If you want not to interfere with the wonderful flavor of fine tequila, you sip fine tequila, with perhaps a wedge of lime. If you want a cocktail, there are going to be other flavorings involved. By definition, a cocktail is a combination of flavoring agents which complement the flavors of the liquor. The margarita's intrigue lies in the way its elements activate such a range of different taste receptors: sweet, salty, and sour, with the fragrance of lime and the mellow, woody structure of tequila underneath. To go without any one of these elements is to oversimplify the architecture of the drink.
posted by Miko at 4:44 PM on June 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


If you are drinking those big-ass margaritas that I remember from the decks down by the water in [town redacted], the straws are, I swear, so you know how many of those suckers you've drunk. Take out the straw and keep it by your elbow; you'll want to know just how many of those grandes you've had.

(This seemingly silly notion of mine was confirmed by a bartender making me those big-ass margaritas.)
posted by Elsa at 4:48 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


OK now I want a margarita...
posted by mkultra at 4:48 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


HA, Elsa. The most practical suggestion for use of the straw yet, and one I will remember and call upon.

This question was actually prompted by a reasonably sized margarita at [fairly decent fried clam establishment] located in [slow-paced beach town nearby [Town redacted]], but your suggestion will indubitably come in much handier at [outdoor waterfront dining facility].
posted by Miko at 4:55 PM on June 1, 2009


It's already a gauche drink, so it doesn't matter.

Ask for it served in a pineapple and no-one will ask any questions!
posted by Artw at 5:01 PM on June 1, 2009


My husband, the bartender, says, "Rotating the glass to get all the salt is not only allowed, it is intended. *grumble* If I go to the trouble of salting the rim for you, don't go using a straw and making me feel like I wasted my time. A properly-done margarita — with real lime juice and triple sec, and no fucking HFCS-based sweet-and-sour mix — a real margarita isn't cheap and trashy."

Actually, he's a New Yorker, so there was quite a bit more swearing in the original. But he can get his own damn account if he wants to be quoted 100% accurately.
posted by Lexica at 7:05 PM on June 1, 2009


TheOnlyCoolTim, no snark here, just genuine curiosity: why do you say it's a gauche drink?
posted by Majorita at 9:34 PM on June 1, 2009


I take exception to this and to the cited 'tequila expert,' whose authority on this issue I don't recognize. I prefer the flavor of the tequila to be in balance with the juice and the salt in a margarita; otherwise, you are getting father away from what a margarita is: a cocktail.

Its all opinion, Miko and everyone has different tastes. So we can agree to disagree. Given the Margarita's obscure origin, I am sure there is no definitive answer for this. But I do think Julio Bermejo deserves better than to be in quotes. If you're ever in San Francisco, I highly recommend his bar at Tommy's. He even has strong opinions about how the lime should be prepared. A great place where you'll find tequilas difficult to find outside of Mexico.
posted by vacapinta at 4:57 AM on June 2, 2009


Well, lest I appear too flip, I've no doubt that I'd love being schooled in the ways of tequila by a knowledgeable person. I'll still disagree about salting a margarita, though I'd drink other tequila drinks happily.
posted by Miko at 7:50 AM on June 2, 2009


TheOnlyCoolTim, no snark here, just genuine curiosity: why do you say it's a gauche drink?

Keeping in mind we are discussing the normative margarita, not a finely crafted drink made by someone like Julio Bermejo:

-It is often served with a straw.
-It is often frozen.
-It is prepared by mixing Tequila with what is basically Kool-aid, sickeningly sweet, artificially flavored, and garishly dyed
-It is often served in oversized glassware - or, even more gauche, plastic
-It is often dispensed from a bucket, especially at house parties
-It is prepared with lowest common denominator inoffensiveness in mind, what with the sweetness and salt to mask the bite of alcohol
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:21 AM on June 2, 2009


I mean, I'm not judging, the parties my friends and I threw in college usually had a punch of Everclear, Sprite, and Orangina or Kool-Aid, we just didn't worry about the etiquette of drinking that.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:26 AM on June 2, 2009


Good god, that doesn't describe every margarita - that describes trashy drinking. It's not like I'm going out to TGI McGooferton's for my beverage intake.

It's the straws that throw me and what prompted the question, since I usually associate straws with soft drinks and wasn't sure why bartenders seemed to expect that I'd use it for a margarita.

I don't drink 'em frozen, don't like the sugary prefab mixers,and would definitely never drink anything from a bucket. ...and salt doesn't mask flavor, it enhances it. That's why people put it on food.

You can make crappy-ass gin, vodka, and rum drinks too, but you can also make good ones. In the case of a margarita, the drink itself isn't gauche - its origins aren't in plastic cups at beach bars, unlike say Sex on the Beach or Long Island Iced Tea. It can be made and served in a disgusting manner, or made and served well with good care and good ingredients.
posted by Miko at 9:57 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remove the straw and drink around the rim. I also love the salt flavour with the lime. In fact, I think that's kind of the whole point of the drink.

And I prefer my margaritas on ice, not blended like a slurpee. I have no idea why this would be considered a gauche drink.
posted by peggynature at 5:11 PM on June 3, 2009


Oh, and the straw are probably used either just for decoration, or for people who dislike the salt or just prefer straws. Who's to say? I certainly wouldn't feel obligated to use it just because they give you one.
posted by peggynature at 5:13 PM on June 3, 2009


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