Cut fresh lime into slices. Rub the rim of a chilled glass with lime. Dip rim in coarse salt. In a shaker, add two ounces of tequila (preferably 100 percent agave), one ounce Cointreau, and one ounce fresh lime juice. Shake. Strain. Pour. Sip slopeside (with a satisfied smile) sometime in the spring.
Sounds straightforward, right? The truth is, much about the margarita remains a mystery. First, while the drink likely dates to the 1930s, its precise origins are deeply uncertain, with booze historians (yes, such persons exist) tallying at least six different “real stories” of who invented it and which real-life Margarita inspired its name. Second, no claims have been firmly accepted as to where the margarita first became an après-ski fixture. Sun Valley or Stowe? Aspen’s Red Onion or Alta’s Sitzmark? Finally, no matter how labor-intensive squeezing limes may be, no one can explain how a high-fructose fluid resembling radiator coolant came to be an accepted substitute for the real thing.
One thing we know for sure: After a springtime session of slushy mogul bashing, the following flavor-forward ski-town margaritas—some classic, some inventive, all made from scratch—are simply superior. Don’t believe us? Try these:
DRINK: Margarita Verde
At: Mexican Corner, Whistler, B.C.
Fresh cucumber juice, white tequila from central Mexico’s Jalisco highlands, triple sec, fresh-squeezed limes, simple syrup, and a hint of heat from chili rubbed on the rim make this the most refreshing margarita on our list. Doubles cost just $6 during après at this upscale yet auténtico eatery’s new home alongside the lifts in busy Whistler Village.
At: Worthy Kitchen, Woodstock, Vt.
Skiers straightline from Suicide Six to Worthy Kitchen for hard-to-find microbrews and flavor-intensive eats. But its unusual margarita—silver agave tequila, fresh citrus juice, and simple syrup topped with a floater of Rookie’s small-batch ginger beer—may well be Vermont’s best. Pair it with wood-fired mahi-mahi tacos or Yucatan chicken nachos, and order another round. (Available seasonally. Call first to make sure it’s on the menu.)
DRINK: 21st Century Margarita
At: Jimmy’s, Aspen, Colo.
More than 120 tequilas and mezcals attest to owner Jimmy Yeager’s passion in the realm of spirits. A locals’ favorite, the 21st Century Margarita features fresh-squeezed lemon and lime, Don Julio 1942 añejo, Grand Marnier 100, and a floater of tobala mezcal over a BFIC (Jimmy’s giant cube of ice).
DRINK: Spicy Passionfruit Margarita
At: Spur Restaurant & Bar at Teton Mountain Lodge, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Chopped jalapeños (seeds and all) soak in silver tequila for four to seven days before the tequila is strained and poured into a shaker with muddled wedges of orange, lemon, and lime, a splash of orange juice, the Spur’s own sweet-and-sour mix, plus pureed passion fruit for a pint that’s rosy, tart, and fiery hot. How hot? If you have to ask, it’s best to order a different drink.
Photos from top: Courtesy Joern Rohde/Mexican Corner, Courtesy Jimmy’s, Courtesy David Agnello/Spur.