The Margarita Way of Life


I went back to Austin, Texas last week for Passover. It's the town I grew up in, and thus naturally where I learned to drink. I'm going to follow with a couple of posts about my visit--my first in two years--and reflections on the drinking I did then versus what I do now.

Now, I love margaritas, and in Austin, they're a way of life. You drink them most of the year, but especially sitting out on various patios and porches whiling away those balmy, 85-degree summer nights. When I first moved to SF I was surprised to hear everyone say that what is widely considered the best margarita in the country is made here at a little restaurant in the Richmond called Tommy's. This news surprised me, as I doubted that anyone in urban Northern California could do better than what I grew up on just a few hundred miles from the Texas border. Still, I had to check it out.

What most people drink in Austin--and what I spent much of my 20s drinking--is the frozen margarita, as you can see from this shot of some people at the next table I snapped at a Tex-Mex joint during lunch (in the photo, one appears to be a lime margarita and the other looks like mango). It was jarring to see so many adults drinking super-sweet, slushy, alcoholic, lime-flavored beverages. You see, years ago I did go to Tommy's and had a fresh squeezed lime, agave-syrup-sweetened margarita, which I asked to have served "up" in a martini glass. And I never looked back. The margarita at Tommy's seemed like a proper cocktail--what they have in Austin seems like a kids' drink. (Although, I confess, I had more than one while I was back there, and actually enjoyed them with the spicy Tex-Mex fare.) But if you like a really austere margarita, the kind for only very serious adults, get Shane, the bartender at Globe restaurant, to make you one in his style--you'll fear for the enamel on your teeth.
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