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Margaritas for Cinco de Mayo

You can never begin celebrating Cinco de Mayo too early. Margaritas reign year-round.

The Margarita's origin has a few stories attached. One traces it to Tijuana's Rancha La Gloria, where the cocktail was created because visitor Marjorie King was allergic to all spirits save tequila.

Tequila, made from fermented blue agave, typically comes in blanco, reposado and añejo. Blanco, also known as silver, makes a fine Margarita. Reposado, or "rested," often has a coppery hue from aging. The rich, dark añejo may be aged for years. They're best as sippers.

Consider Herradura Blanco ($40),Cabo Wabo Blanco ($38) and Cazadores Blanco ($27) for a tangy, first-class Margarita.

And sample a reposado or an añejo for their smoothness and, sometimes, hint of vanilla. Herradura Reposado ($50) is silky stuff and offers a trace of spice. Herradura Añejo ($60), aged two years, compares favorably with brandy. The creamy tequila has dried-fruit notes. A lush añejo merits a snifter.

Margarita recipes vary by bartender and by taste. For one with more to it, try Cointreau instead of triple sec, and lime juice rather than lemon juice in the supporting cast.

Mix 1 1/2 or 2 ounces of tequila with 1/2 or 1 ounce of Cointreau and 1 ounce of lime juice. Shake the combo with ice, then strain the drink into a salt-rimmed glass.

Viva, blue agave.

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