If I want a drink made in the "classic" way rather than with a mix, how do I ask for that?
May 29, 2012 6:34 PM   Subscribe

At a restaurant I ordered a margarita, but when it came it had clearly been made with a mix. It occurred to me that surely there is a word or a way of ordering that indicates you want it mixed classic style - with lime juice, triple sec and tequila, no mix - without having to order in the negative, e.g. "not with a mix." How do I order the drink I want - or can I?
posted by tomboko to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
"Do you make it fresh, or do you use a mix"? I'm not sure why you wouldn't ask them about the mix (like do you think it sounds rude?) If you could clarify that maybe I could be more helpful about alternatives.

I've never been able to get bartenders at mix-using places to do fresh (when I was pregnant, I tried desperately to get lime juice with a salt rim!).
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:40 PM on May 29, 2012

I'm not sure there's a polite way to do this. When I get a cocktail made from a mix, the message I receive is that the restaurant or bar expects patrons who won't care. I oblige them, by making an effort not to care and/or going elsewhere next time.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 6:40 PM on May 29, 2012 [13 favorites]

For some reason, they are called Skinny Margarita. No triple sec though, Cointreau.
posted by LeanGreen at 6:46 PM on May 29, 2012

I would be concerned that at some establishments ordering a "Skinny Margarita" will result in a margarita made with a diet mix like this.
posted by telegraph at 7:21 PM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

In Texas, it wasn't unusual to ask something like "is your margarita a mix?" (sometimes, the servers would stumble over trying to explain that the frozen margs were; it was better to speak directly to the bartender). Usually, if you asked for the Top Shelf margarita, or if you specified your tequila, you got a real drink. Even, in my experience, in chain shit-on-the-walls places. I used to live near a Chili's that made a fine real margarita.

I would also hesitate to order "skinny" anything anymore, lest you get a Real Housewives Brand Margarita.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:25 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

On the Rocks = with ice
Blended = frozen slurry
Straight = no ice

(As far as I know, and I usually order mine "On the Rocks" and get what you're hoping for.)
posted by peagood at 8:00 PM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ask for it "made from scratch". Works at Trader Vic's for Mai Tais.
posted by hwyengr at 8:11 PM on May 29, 2012

Scratch margarita.
posted by purenitrous at 8:54 PM on May 29, 2012

Its not a mix so much as the use of Sweet and Sour (usually - sweet and sour). My restaurant bartending marg was tequila, lime juice, triple sec and sweet and sour and this seemed fairly standard.

(This may be why the confused answer w/r/t "is it a mix" Its not a "margarita mix" its a shitty sweet and sour, but the sweet and sour is the same stuff you'd put in a whisky sour or a John/Jack/Brandy Collins)

Even at a good tequila bar/restaurant I sometimes filled in at we used a homemade sour which is simple syrup (sugar and water) and lemon juice until you get something slightly tangy.

Ask for a traditional margarita w/o sweet and sour or to be clear its not out of hand to say "Margarita rocks, no sweet and sour, just tequila, triple sec (or Cointreau if you're going top shelf) and lime juice".
posted by bitdamaged at 11:01 PM on May 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

The short answer is "no." The margarita is a classic drink most bars are quite happy to ruin. I have no idea why this is. Your going to have to be "that person" and order it in a very specific manner.

As an aside, I recently made margaritas while tending bar at a friend's party. Everybody went nuts for them. It was then I had the sad realization that very few people have ever had a properly mixed margarita.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:14 AM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Margarita, fresh.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:55 AM on May 30, 2012

You: "do you make your margaritas with fresh lime?"

Staff: abc

Then you decide whether to order it or not, based on what abc is.
posted by segatakai at 2:15 AM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Technically, if you order a "scratch" margarita, you should get a proper, hand-assembled margarita. However, that still doesn't preclude the use of a bar mix as the flavorant. It sucks, I know. Bars use mixes for damned near every mixed drink that isn't a martini. Order a Collins sometime, for instance. It'll be made with a bar mix and not taste like a Collins (which most people have probably never tasted, anyway).

They do this as a time and money-saver, especially with ├╝ber-popular, high-demand drinks like margaritas. About the only way I know to get a real margarita is to talk directly to the bartender (preferably when he isn't running to fill orders) and ask him to make a scratch margarita without using bar mix. Sadly, your average barman will probably have to look up a recipe.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:13 AM on May 30, 2012

I don't know about bartenders, but a lot of waitstaff (particularly the younger, college-age ones) seem not even to know that a proper Margarita doesn't involve a mix. We've given up asking for them in chain restaurants because we get confused looks whenever we ask if they're made with one. And sometimes we get them with waaaaaay too much unsweetened lime juice, because in these places (which claim to have the "best Margaritas in town," natch) the drinks are almost entirely mix, with the tequila and triple sec bottles merely waved over the glass.

I once ordered a $2.00 special in an airport bar. The waitress (who was mixing the drinks as well) told me they were out of mix. I said, "Do you have lime juice?" and wrote down my recipe for her. She looked puzzled and said, "I never knew you could make them without mix." It was a pretty good Margarita, if I do say so myself. We usually don't order them except at one or two places in town (we're in the Midwest) where they do them correctly, or when we're traveling in New Mexico or south Texas, because I can make them myself much better and cheaper at home.
posted by tully_monster at 5:24 AM on May 30, 2012

Could you order a tequila on the rocks with a splash of lime juice and triple sec? I've never tried this (and it might come out stronger than you'd prefer) but ordering mixed drinks in this manner is typically done with other liquids.
posted by emd3737 at 5:27 AM on May 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hi, I'm a bartender. Our usual (five dollarish) margarita is 1.25 oz tequila, we use governors. Healthy splash triple sec, healthy splash sour, smaller splash Rose's lime, 1 smooshed lime slice, 1 smooshed orange slice. Shake w/ ice, strain onto ice in salt rimmed glass.

Now because crappy sour more often than not seems to dominate the taste profile, some people don't like the above. So they tell me what they want. It doesn't hurt my feelings. Some say it's too sour, what they want is something more akin to a frozen confection. Some say I want 1 part tequila, 1 part triple sec, and 1 part lime juice. No problem, either way. I'll just adjust. I, in fact, kinda like when people have a good handle on what they want in a drink.
posted by stormygrey at 5:41 AM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're sitting at the bar ordering a drink, I think it's perfectly fine to request a margarita made with tequila, lime juice, and triple sec only - no sour mix. If you're seated at a table in the restaurant and will have to give this order to your server, who will then have to relay it to the bartender...well, I wouldn't bother. You're probably going to end up disappointed.

I'm not sure why it's impolite to order a drink the way you like it, though, especially if you're paying for it. If that's impolite, consider me terribly crass.
posted by pecanpies at 6:31 AM on May 30, 2012

You could print up some little cards that say:

1.5 oz tequila
1.0 oz freshly squeezed lime
0.5 oz Cointreau

Then hand it to the person taking your order and say, "I'd like this please." Sure, you'd be an eccentric weird chick, but you'd be an eccentric weird chick with a god damned delicious drink.
posted by SampleSize at 7:37 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Where I live we call this a Jamaican Margarita - but Google is suggesting that's regional and that in some places that has some kind of Hibiscus flower in it.

But yeah, as a bartender, if you asked for a Margarita with lime juice with no sour, I wouldn't be offended. Just clarify you want actual lime juice, not Rose's.
posted by mazienh at 7:17 PM on May 31, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. I so hoped there was a bartending term for such a thing, a drink made from scratch that is commonly made with mix - not just margaritas, but Tom Collinses, for example. Ah well! I never even knew the difference until I got spoiled by my husband's excellent drinks-mixing skills. I made my own this evening in the blender with some ice.

Oh, and I just don't like to be 'that person' ordering special things in restaurants if I can possibly help it. I believe that, unless I'm sitting at a bar and can talk to the bartender, I'll just have a beer, and enjoy margaritas at home, where it is de rigeur to drink them naked.
posted by tomboko at 5:32 PM on June 1, 2012

But but but...you're paying them! With money!
posted by SampleSize at 7:49 PM on June 1, 2012

I have the same issue; The Brooklyn Inn (where we often have mefi meetups) makes my Tom Collins with real lemons and it's divine. I'm totally ruined for other bars. In any kind of chain restaurant you're probably right that it's not worth the time and effort to get them to understand what you mean, but it's not rude to ask for what you want.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:00 PM on June 1, 2012

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