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Puesto Adds a Roving Margarita Cart

And Lucien Conner offers us his tips for batching Margaritas
Puesto's Margarita Cart | Photo: Sam Wells

By Kelly Davis

The best bartenders will tell you that the difference between a good cocktail and a great cocktail is in the presentation: the right glassware, the perfect garnish, a fragrant citrus zest. Interactive elements can be a nice touch, too. Take, for instance, Puesto’s new Margarita cart that allows guests to watch their Margarita pitcher being prepared tableside.

You might be inclined to write it off as a gimmick, but the guy who dreamed it up has serious cocktail (and design) cred. Lucien Conner, Puesto’s director of operations, co-founded Snake Oil Cocktail Co. with Ian Ward a decade ago and helped ignite San Diego’s cocktail scene. He also has a degree in art and a good eye for design.

The photo above gives you an idea of what’s in—and on—the cart. (Not pictured is the Carmen Miranda-esque canopy of fresh fruits and citrus.) Tequila options will rotate with a focus on smaller distilleries. Catch the cart at Puesto’s Headquarters (at Seaport Village) location on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays starting around 3 p.m.

The topic of pitchers of Margaritas prompted me to ask Conner for some tips for home bartenders on the best way to batch Margaritas for a party. (“Batching” means, basically, pre-mixing cocktails beforehand.) Here’s Conner’s advice:

The basic Margarita recipe is four parts of your favorite tequila to two parts fresh-squeezed lime juice, one part water, and one part organic agave nectar. The trick to batching delicious cocktails is getting the dilution and temperature right. There are two ways to approach this: 

1.Add water* when you batch, then keep the cocktail pitcher refrigerated. Pour over ice when you’re ready to serve.  

2. The other option, which delivers the best possible result, is to batch all the ingredients, stir them together (no ice), and then shake each of the cocktails individually or in pairs when it’s time to serve. This delivers quality that is on par with a cocktail made from scratch to order. Shaking not only chills and dilutes the cocktail; it also aerates the cocktail, making it lighter on the palette and releasing more aroma. This is something that you can never achieve with the pour-over-ice method.

If you are going with option one, then you’ll need to add an additional two parts water* to make up for the dilution that happens when you shake a cocktail with ice. (So, for instance, if you’re measuring in ounces and quadrupling the recipe, it should be: 16 ounces tequila, 8 ounces lime, 12 ounces water, 4 ounces agave.) If you’re going with option two, then you’re all set until it’s time to shake and party.

Puesto Adds a Roving Margarita Cart

Puesto Adds a Roving Margarita Cart

Puesto’s gin cocktail trio featuring You & Yours gin | Credit: Anne Watson

Conner also recently worked with San Diego distillery You & Yours (which just celebrated its second anniversary) on a trio of gin cocktails for Puesto. If you’re a fan of lighter, refreshing gin cocktails, you can’t go wrong with any of them. The Spring Cherry Gimlet is made with You & Yours Sunday gin, fresh cherries, lime juice, and Pierre Ferrand dry orange curacao, served in a coupe glass. The Garden Party, served on the rocks, is made with Sunday gin, Dolin Blanc sweet vermouth, lemon, lime, and agave. And for the Last Frost Collins, orange, cloves, and mezcal play up the earthiness of Y&Y’s Winter gin.

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Puesto Adds a Roving Margarita Cart

Puesto’s Margarita Cart | Photo: Sam Wells

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