Shake up the perfect margarita

Tres Agaves bartender Cristian Lara shares the 'perfect' recipe
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
-A +A
Cristian Lara believes there’s only one right way to make a margarita. He’s perfected the process during his job as a bartender at Tres Agaves Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Lounge at The Fountains in Roseville. Born in Mexico City, Lara, 31, has lived in the United States for the last 10 years, four of those spent serving drinks at popular Mexican restaurants. Lara will display his drink-making talents at the restaurant’s big Cinco de Mayo fiesta Wednesday. In the meantime, the seasoned bartender has shared the restaurant’s margarita recipe. “It takes three ingredients to be perfect,” Lara said. “Squished lime juice over one ounce agave nectar, which is an organic sweetener that comes from the same plant as tequila. Then two ounces of tequila. So, one, one and two.” To make a margarita — the most common tequila-based cocktail in the United States — Lara first squeezed fresh lime juice into a shot glass, which he poured into a larger cup with ice. He then added one ounce of the restaurant’s house-made agave nectar. Next, he added two ounces of tequila and shook the mix with ice. “We don’t blend here,” he said. “We shake it.” He finished the drink by pouring the liquid over a glass filled with fresh ice. For customers who prefer a simple, clean taste, non-aged Blanco is the best type of margarita to use, Lara said. Reposado has typically been aged between three months to a year and offers more body and flavor. Customers who prefer a full-flavor taste will like Anejo, which has been aged in oak wood barrels from 1 to 3 years. “It’s about the taste of the customer,” Lara said. “(But) you’ve got to use 100 percent Blue Agave (tequila). We’re 100 percent focused on tequila. Our margaritas are the best from here to San Francisco. We have another restaurant there.” All high-quality and premium tequilas fall into the category of 100 percent Blue Agave, Lara said, which means the product is comprised entirely of spirits derived from the blue weber agave, a plant native to the Mexican state of Jalisco. A bottle with the words “mixto” or “joven abocado” on its label means the tequila contains at least 51 percent agave, and the rest may be liquor made from corn or sugar, and caramel coloring, according to Tres Agaves. Although other restaurants may serve margaritas blended or straight up without ice, Tres Agaves’ bartenders serve their drinks with ice, and don’t rim the glass with salt or sugar. Nor do they add triple sec or any artificial orange liqueur, which they argue is used to mask the taste of bad alcohol. “Our concept is on the rocks, no salt,” Lara said. “(Salt) is a wall between you and the real taste. That interferes with the concept of drinking the most authentic margarita.” Tres Agaves’ commitment to tequila extends to its Tequila Shop, which sells 130 varieties of the distilled spirit. The restaurant also features a monthly distillery — Antiquo is May’s selection. “You will get a hangover,” Lara said of his margaritas. But he knows from personal experience that the headache won’t be nearly as bad as those caused by non-Tres Agaves margaritas. He attributes this to the resaturant’s use of natural 100 percent Blue Agave. Lara and his fellow bartenders expect to serve up hundreds of margaritas during Wednesday’s Cinco de Mayo festivities. The holiday commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla, when the Mexican militia defeated the French army. Mexico celebrates its Independence Day on September 16, when the people of Mexico began an armed struggled against Spanish colonialists in 1810. For Mexican-Americans, both holidays commemorate their heritage. Authentic and delicious-tasting margaritas are only a small piece of that cultural pride. Sena Christian can be reached at ---------- Recipe for the perfect margarita: 1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice 1 oz. Tres Agaves house-made agave nectar 2 oz. 100 percent Blue Agave tequila Squeeze out 1 ounce of lime juice and pour over ice in a large glass. Add 1 ounce of agave nectar and 2 ounces of 100 percent Blue Agave tequila. Cover and shake glass. Pour fresh ice into a new glass and pour in mixed drink. Source: Cristian Lara, Tres Agaves Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Lounge Cinco de Mayo celebration: Tres Agaves Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Lounge’s Cinco de Mayo party goes from 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5, to 2 a.m. on Thursday, May 6, at Cinco de Mayo Plaza (former Smith & Hawken building), corner of E. Roseville Parkway and Galleria Blvd. in The Fountains in Roseville. DJ music and dancing: 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. 98 Rock Lucha Libra wrestling show by GWS Wrestling: 5-7 p.m. Cigar-rolling station: 5-10 p.m. Salsa dancing and lessons: 6-9 p.m. Mariachi music: 6:30-10:30 p.m. in the restaurant, 1182 Roseville Parkway, Suite 110 A $5 cover charge starts at 7 p.m. and proceeds benefit the Ronald McDonald House. For more information, call (916) 782-4455 or visit