Fiesta! Celebrating National Margarita Day With Mexican Food In Olympia

olympia mexican restaurants


By Mary Ellen Psaltis

olympia mexican restaurantsJuan Carlos Martinez pours drinks for a living. As a bartender at Pancho’s Restaurant and Tequila Bar, he accesses more than 600 labels of tequila when you are in the mood for a margarita. Martinez believes you can match your feelings of the moment to a tequila. Happy? A little down? Nostalgic? No problem. There is a tequila for you. This sounds like a concept worth exploring and what better place to celebrate National Margarita Day (Friday, February 22) than in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico!?

I am escaping a few winter days in Thurston County for the dry sunshine of the southern Baja. The whales swimming by our condo will be in Westport in a few months, then back to Alaska. In the meantime, I am researching the truth that Mexico and margaritas go naturally hand in hand. The blue agave plant, a hearty succulent, grows in Jalisco.  Tequila is fermented and distilled from the 12 year-old (or so) heart of the plant. Does this mean it counts as a vegetable?

If the thought of tequila brings back horrid morning-after memories of shooting shots in your college dorm – despair no more. You might want to try a slightly more mature approach for National Margarita Day.

There are as many variations as there are tequilas. The traditional version is lime flavored, but you might prefer one with strawberries, prickly pear cactus or mango.

olympia mexican restaurantsYou can also experiment with the equation depending on the other liquor you use. Cointreau (orange liquor) is nice, and there’s Grand Marnier, Triple Sec and some less expensive knock off brands. I once had an Italian margarita that used amaretto. Variety is good; a designated driver is great.

Here’s a straightforward recipe from Martinez:

1 part Jimador tequila (it’s white tequila)

1 part Cointreau

juice of fresh lime

poured over ice cubes

He likes his on the rocks, not blended (sometimes called frozen) as the liquor is not diluted so quickly and you can savor the flavors longer.

Here’s the ultimate margarita that my husband has perfected to our tastes:

olympia mexican restaurants2 parts Jose Cuervo 1800 anejo tequila reserve

1 part Grand Marnier

2 parts Jose Cuervo mixer

juice from Mexican limes (key lime or Citrus aurantifolia)

Mix and add a few cubes of ice. This one is so tasty you don’t need to hide behind a salted rim. But if you like the salt, use the squeezed fruit to rub around the rim of the glass then spin it in some coarsely ground salt.

A few common margarita terms:

  • Blanco: white, not aged or aged less than two months
  • Reposada: rested, aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels of any size
  • Añejo: aged, aged a minimum of one year, but less than three years in small oak barrels
  • Extra Añejo: aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels.
  • If you are drinking higher quality tequila (aged 100% agave), you might just sip it neat – that means straight up. It’s smooth with complex flavors.

olympia mexican restaurantsAre you under Olympia skies now? Fear not! There are plenty of places to find a margarita in Thurston County. Near to my house is the Puerto Vallarta restaurant.  If you don’t fancy a tequila-based cocktail, they have a menu of other tropical possibilities. The Olympia area has a number of family owned Mexican restaurants such as El Sarape and The Mayan, both with multiple locations.

I’ll bring back as much sunshine as I can fit into my suitcase. Right now there is chunky guacamole and a big bowl of pico de gallo calling my name. Might as well have a margarita, too.

Drink Responsibly. Eat Well – Be Well.

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