To anyone that has tried a Tommy’s Margarita, it will be no surprise to hear that it is by far one of our most popular cocktails at NIO. Bright, tart, and with just the right balance of sweetness from agave syrup, one sip whisks us back to sizzling summer days lounging by the pool or on white tropical sands.
Mind you, after that initial satisfying sip, you may wonder: what sets Tommy’s Margarita apart from it’s cousin, the beloved classic Margarita? And, more importantly, how do we best enjoy this refreshing tipple? Today we’re telling the story of this modern classic, and sharing our top tips on what to pair with your Tommy’s Margarita if you’re looking to bring a little spice to your next dinner party!
The History Behind The Cocktail
The name “Tommy’s Margarita” itself comes from a San Francisco restaurant of the same name where the iconic tequila cocktail was revamped in the 90’s - not by someone called Tommy - but a savvy bartender named Julio Bermejo.
Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant was set up in San Francisco in 1965 by Julio’s parents and, pitching in with his other four siblings, it is well and truly a family business.
Thanks to Julio’s unrivalled knowledge of tequila, Tommy’s has since become a mecca for bar flies and tequila lovers around the world: the bar shelves groan with the largest collection of 100% agave tequila outside of Mexico, and there are well over 100 kinds of margaritas on their menu. If you love margaritas, this should be at the top of your bucket list.
Why is agave used to craft the Tommy’s Margarita?
The key twist that distinguishes Tommy’s Margarita from the iconic classic is the very ingredient that makes tequila so special in the first place: agave. Agave is similar in flavour to honey - some would argue even sweeter - with a slightly greener edge to it, and is the base ingredient to all tequila.
In pursuit of a lighter version of the classic Margarita, one that would place the spotlight firmly on the star ingredient at its heart, Julio switched orange liqueur for agave nectar and lime juice to echo the unique tasting notes in the tequila. The resulting Tommy’s Margarita was light, fresh, and soon became a hit among tequila fans far beyond Julio’s native San Francisco.
What to pair with a Tommy’s Margarita
So, how do we best enjoy Julio’s modern twist on this summer favourite? Naturally we’re looking to classic Mexican cuisine for inspiration when it comes to food pairings with Tommy’s - zesty citrus flavours complement the cocktail beautifully, while anything smoky, salty or spicy helps to bring balance to the sweetness of the agave syrup. Take inspiration from a handful of these cult favourite restaurants based in London for your next dinner party!
- Temper Soho describes itself as a “sweet, smokey hideaway” under the bustling streets of Soho, and is home to a spectacular array of Mexican plates prepared on its wooden fire pit. For a fresh starter to pair with your Tommy’s, try their burrata, Lime and Jalapeño dish.
- Breddo’s was born in Hackney as a makeshift taco shack; it’s now one of London’s favourite taco spots based in Clerkenwell with a sister restaurant in Oslo. They prefer a gourmet twist to the usual taco toppings, with offerings like smoked Aubergine, halloumi, and garlic sour cream.
- Mestizo came to London in 2004 as a “work of love”, and a sense of responsibility from a group of Mexican chefs to bring the best of their local food to the city. Here, they celebrate authentic cuisine with an extensive menu of classic dishes - and not just excellent taco toppings - including “pollo negro”, a chicken dish with a Mexican truffle sauce.
If you want to raise a glass to Julio Bermejo’s modern classic, you can order your own Tommy’s Margarita in a box of 3, 6 or 9 NIO Cocktails or as part of our Sour Box.