The Story Behind The Tommy's Margarita

The Margarita is a classic, well-loved blend of tequila, fresh lime juice, and orange liqueur. Of course, you’ll find all sorts of different riffs and variations at bars and restaurants all over the world, but like most classic cocktails, it’s difficult to beat the original. However, in San Francisco in the 1990s, a bartender by the name of Julio Bermejo made the simple alteration of swapping out orange liqueur for the natural pairing of agave nectar. Bermejo’s place of work was Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, so his concoction became known simply as “Tommy’s Margarita.”

Brett Adams, a Portland, Ore.-based bartender and soon-to-be cocktail book author, says that as a bar manager, a Tommy’s Margarita is a happy-hour-menu dream come true. “The cost in a Margarita is the orange liqueur and ditching it means you can charge less but still keep quality and margins high,” he says. He adds that agave nectar is a unique form of sweetener because it has such a short finish.

“A Tommy’s Margarita allows you to properly balance the drink; as in, add enough sugar to keep the lime in check, without the finish being too sweet," Adams says. "When you take a sip, the agave falls off pretty quick so the finish is acidic, and thus refreshing."


  • 2 ounces blanco tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce agave nectar
  • Salt for rim


  1. Combine tequila, lime juice, and agave in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake with ice until the shaker is slightly frosted over.
  3. Strain over fresh ice in a salt-rimmed rocks glass.

Recipe Rating

(249 votes)

Yield: 1
Updated: 2020-05-29

The Tommy’s Margarita Recipe