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Call it something else, but please don't call it a margarita.

I just read on the same Manhattan board a cucumber margarita and a peach with Thai basil. I drove by a popular Houston Mexican place today that had a watermelon version on the billboard. That's three in one day and my mind has snapped. A margarita is fresh lime juice, tequila, and triple sec or Cointreau. I had a perfect version this weekend ordered skinny, no sweetener with silver tequila and salt on the rim. Delicious, El Tiempo Houston. Now that's a margarita.

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  1. I totally sympathize. I feel the same way about the Mojito. I see "variations" for Watermelon Mojito, Strawberry-Lemon Mojito, Mango Mojito, and the horrifying Kumquat Mojito. It's revolting.

    Mojito: Silver rum, mint leaves, sugar (or simple syrup), lime, club soda. Liberal amounts of ice. End of story. The perfect summer thirst quencher for rum drinkers.

    In both cases, it's just lazy, language-limited bartenders who can't be bothered to make up a new name for a new drink. Instead, they piggyback on the popularity of an existing one.

    Expect the Martini purists to chime in anytime now. They are likewise outraged at the misuse of that word.

    6 Replies
    1. re: mcsheridan

      Not sure why a kumquat Mojito would be horrifying. A kumquat is a bitter and sour citrus fruit and would do a good job of standing in for the lime, whereas watermelon, strawberry, or mango would be impotent.

      But I agree. When substitutions stay true to the template of the drink, I don't object until the volume of variations gets out of control. But usually the substitutions are outside the template. There is no liqueur in a Martini or Manhattan, for example.

      1. re: mcsheridan

        I do believe there can be a bit of debate in regards to dark or silver rum in a mojito as well as white or muscavado sugar, I believe I recall reading something about it in Potions of the Caribbean (Jeff Berry)

        I do prefer Barbancourt 5 star in my mojito's

        1. re: Dapuma

          I really like Barbancourt chilled as a sipping rum; I haven't tried it in mixed drinks at all.

          As to which rum in a Mojito, I'm more than prepared to be flexible on that point. :)

          1. re: mcsheridan

            Barbanbourt 8* - neat (no ice) - in a snifter after dinner . . .

              1. re: ncyankee101

                Well, yes and no . . .

                The ***** (5 Star) is indeed 8-years old. My very first bottle of Barbarcourt's 15-Year Old Rhum (early 1970s) did have eight stars on its neck label -- I am 95 percent sure of that; as I've long referred to the 15-Year old as "Eight Star." That said, I checked my current bottle last night and it is labeled "Réserve du Domaine" on the neck label where (IIRC) the eight stars used to appear.

      2. It's no different from people making a chocolate/alcohol cocktail and calling it a chocolate martini. Not a martini in my book!

        1. All us old poops, gather 'round … I've never wanted to stand in the way of progress, social change, political change (if it's FORWARDS!), but tell me you have a dog of each gender, or use "indifferent" to mean "apathetic," or call even a glass of vodka with a brief spray of vermouth a Martini and you will instantly arouse my Inner Curmudgeon. I've been like that most of my life, but now that I'm old enough to be a real curmudgeon it's become a lot easier.

          Unfortunately, even some authentic Mexican places we've been in recently, including some whose actual margaritas are superb, have added such atrocities as banana or pineapple "margaritas" to their menu. Time to get going with the torches and pitchforks …

          11 Replies
                1. re: Will Owen

                  armed villagers are gathering around the gates to address these abominations against nature.

                  1. re: hill food

                    Yes, but not that it will do any good . . .

                    1. re: zin1953

                      we can try. and then to my house for some wine und sponge cake!

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      How old does one have to be before you can be an official curmudgeon? I've been unofficial for a while with my fake ID.

                      1. re: Bkeats

                        Actually, it has nothing to do with age. However, I've gotten much better at it in the last 20 years.

                        1. re: Bkeats

                          You can jump into it at any time. True curmudgeons are made, not born, though. Like learning chess vs. playing it well, or appreciating life, it gets better with age.

                          Some essential texts for the student: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/...

                      2. Why not just give it a Name of its own? I think it may just be an attempt to keep things familiar or just mental laziness. It seems that in the past even a small change in a Recipe spawned a new Cocktail.

                        1. I gave up on this type of protest when dessert pizzas first came on the scene.

                          1. (misplaced post - moderator please delete.)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ncyankee101

                              Yes, but the 8* (eight star) is FIFTEEN years old! ;^)

                              1. re: zin1953

                                Not sure if you are joking (I think you are) because I am not at home and don't have my bottle of 15 yr with me, but I only see it referred to online as "Estate reserve".

                                I have a bottle of the 3* / 5 yr at home but have yet to open it.

                            2. This same sort of things drives me crazy when I go to a restaurant and see 75 options on the "Martini Menu".

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: jpc8015

                                "Martini Menu" just ridiculous

                                1. re: chefj

                                  Right, there are only two real martinis. Up and on the rocks.

                                    1. re: JMF

                                      I knew that would get another discussion started.

                                      1. re: JMF

                                        My Dad drank Beefeater's martinis on the rocks with a twist for years. He ordered it exactly like that, and they knew what to bring him.

                                        1. re: JMF

                                          yes the proper term for a martini of the non-strained variety is "over"

                                        2. re: jpc8015

                                          I'd be willing to concede the vodka version, too. Especially if you're going to count "on the rocks".

                                              1. re: grampart

                                                It wouldn't be normal not to have just about every cocktail thread degenerate into a martini bashing and brawling... ;-)> Enjoy it while you can before CH implodes and burns to the ground in a pyre of mediocrity.

                                      2. Good post, James. I suspect part of the problem is bartenders, ooops sorry they now want to be called mixologists, are trying to fix what is not even broken.

                                        I was on a business trip recently and while at the hotel bar I ordered a Manhattan. The bartender/mixologist made it with Bacardi Black Label Rum! When I saw him making this concoction I thought it was someone else's drink until he served it to me. When I asked about the rum, he told me that was his version of a Manhattan and I should try it because it is better than the original recipe. He then said if I did not like it he would make me something else. Fair enough, I thought and took a sip. Then I said, yep, please just give me a real Manhattan.

                                        11 Replies
                                        1. re: Fowler

                                          I have to wonder how much of the owner's Black Label Rum is getting poured down the slop sink because this ding-dong wants to show off. It would be better if he asked patrons before he started, if they wanted to try something new and adventurous.

                                          1. re: Fowler

                                            That guy was just a jerk. Not a bartender or mixologist.

                                            1. re: Fowler

                                              Wow that's shitty, that clown should be fired.

                                              1. re: Fowler

                                                As a lover of drinks my daddy would've drunk when young – 3:1 martinis and the like – I'm finding more flexibility among bartenders now than thirty years ago. I remember one very good but very young one who almost broke into tears when I insisted on enough vermouth in my martini to be an actual ingredient, rather than a quick rinse. We were in a very hip club the other night and I asked the server to bring a very simple whiskey sour, 1 pt simple + 2 pts lemon + 3 pts rye, on the rocks. "No egg white?" she asked, eyes wide. "NO egg white," I said. It was so good I had two.

                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                  The Egg White is an option, Option being the pivotal word here.

                                                  1. re: chefj

                                                    It's one that snuck up on me; I ordered a whiskey sour at the usually reliable 1886 Bar in South Pasadena and got this frothy sissy drink. Drank the damned thing out of curiosity, but one is enough.

                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                      "frothy sissy drink" It is probably how your Dad was severed it when he was young, was he a "Sissy"?(I'm guessing in the 30's)
                                                      It is a very excepted and old part of the recipe and a listed ingredient in by the IBA

                                                      1. re: chefj

                                                        Didn't know it was old, but I'm pretty sure most small-town bars in '30s Illinois were no more likely to have egg white on hand than they are now. As the most common "mixed drinks" in those parts have but two ingredients and only rarely three, I would expect that a request for egg white in one's whiskey sour in, say, the American Legion bar in Marshall IL might well be met by a suggestion that you should go back to Chicago.

                                                        JMF, I have to say that "sissy drink" is to me a category that includes anything frothy whether I like it or not, the Ramos Fizz being an example of one I do like. And the 1886 sour was quite well-made and nicely balanced; it just wasn't what I had in mind, nor what I'm in the mood for when I ask for one.

                                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                                          Sous have a history of being made with or without egg white. There is even a special glass called a sour glass that is for serving a whiskey sour, no egg white, up straight.


                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                            Will - something tells me the 'suggestion' of a return to Chicago wouldn't have been a gentle one either (and still might not).

                                                        2. re: Will Owen

                                                          If it was a sissy drink, it wasn't a well made whiskey sour. I like mine made with egg white, and strong with a big hit of whiskey, balanced by just the right amount of lemon and simple, with some complexity of bitters, and a mouth pleasing foam on top, with that brown, tart goodness underneath, served up, and no one has ever thought to say that I drink sissy drinks. Just sayin'.

                                                  2. Eh, I don't see it being that bad to change or add ONE thing and call it a [CHANGED THING] [ORIGINAL DRINK NAME]. Much less confusing than changing one thing and making a clever play on words with the original drink name. (Last Word/Final Word/etc -- which can be very cute for people into craft cocktails, but not so much for people who want to take the first step outside the familiar. Or all the Manhattan variants that require you to know that something is a section of NY and that thus this is probably a Manhattan variant.)

                                                    I order a mezcal margarita (fresh lime juice, orange liqueur, mezcal, rocks/salt) often at a local bar; I don't see a need to give it a cutesy name. Or I order a boulevardier in a non-craft-cocktail bar that has Campari and the bartender blinks at me and I say "a whiskey negroni" and I get my drink. (Especially since I'm not actually sure whether one is supposed to use the French pronunciation of the word or not...)

                                                    Some of the one-ingredient changes are to swap something sour/tart/bitter for something cloyingly sweet (pineapple margarita), but it should be obvious what you're ordering.

                                                    Now, once you start changing more things, yeah, call it something new.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: antimony

                                                      I consider the intention of the modification. If the changed drink still fits the template, I don't mind the variation-style name. For example, I might not mind an "Apricot Margarita" where a like amount of high-quality apricot liquor replaces the triple sec or curacao. But I would object if it had a apricot puree, little or no lime, and a sugar rim. That's a different template. For example, my Georgita has peach liqueur and Green Chartreuse, so I picked a referential name.

                                                      And I'm less tolerate the more the name is abused. The "Espresso Martini" make me strict about messing with the Martini template.

                                                      The more well-known the drink creator, the more latitude. I'm not tangling with the Earl Gray MarTEAni, even though it does not fit the template.

                                                      A "Whiskey Negroni" would be equal parts (which a Boulevardier is not), and could be any whiskey, not necessarily bourbon. Scotch makes a nice one -- Islay if you like that sort of thing. But, yes, I would happily drink just about anything a reasonable bartender might make with this formula. You can't sink the HMS Negroni.

                                                      At Kindred Cocktails, we deal with this all the time when we curate names and recipes. Sometimes it's tough.


                                                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                        Great post. I just signed up @ your site and have started filling my cocktail book.

                                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                          "The more well-known the drink creator, the more latitude. I'm not tangling with the Earl Gray MarTEAni, even though it does not fit the template."

                                                          You make some good points in your reply but I am curious why would the drink creator, mixologist, whatever they want to be called be somehow correlated to how much latitude you give them with basically calling a dog a cat? For all I know the bartender that made my Manhattan with rum is well-known in that city but that does not mean he should be calling a Manhattan made with rum a Manhattan.

                                                          1. re: Fowler

                                                            Reasonable question.

                                                            The crux is because we (Kindred Cocktails) respect cocktail authorities, whereas we expect (require, actually) cocktail amateurs to respect our interpretation of craft cocktail community standards. Who you are matters.

                                                            When Audrey Saunders makes a drink (http://nymag.com/nightlife/articles/0...), I grant her complete authority to call it whatever she wants. She is a, if not the, cocktail goddess of NYC. It would be disrespectful of us to presume to rename her drink.

                                                            But if that very same drink were made by Bartender Nobody who works the day shift at TGIFs, I would probably deny the name because it doesn't fit the Martini name. (Actually, because of the cute play on tea, I might allow it.


                                                            The same is true of language. If I read a new word in the New York Times, I accept that the word has entered the modern lexicon. If instead my teen daughters invented it, I would correct her and receive "the face".


                                                            1. re: Fowler

                                                              "a Manhattan made with rum"

                                                              yeah wouldn't a better name be a "Nuyorican"? and tie one in with literary crowd.

                                                        2. This makes me laugh because my sister and I had this exact conversation on the weekend. If it's not lime and tequila, it's not a margarita. It is some other cocktail. And pesto is made with basil, etc., etc.