Sipping the spring's best margaritas
by Tony Chamberlain/
Very few Eastern college kids had ever tasted a salty margarita back in skiing’s rollicking decade of the ’60s. Ditto the ’70s and after that. In fact only those in the ski bum movement (Rocky Mountain) that drew New England kids west a generation ago did the gold spike get driven with Cuervo Gold, of course.
These days, the margarita — that delicious and potent spring blend of salt and froth — is the mainstay of people who don’t have much else to do that day but order up a dinner of chimichangas and tacos.
If you stick to the basic recipe and use a good brand of tequila, it’s hard to screw up this drink. For the record, you’re mixing on ice 1½ ounces of tequila with ¾ ounces of triple sec, 1½ ounces of fresh sour mix (equal parts simple syrup and fresh line juice). Dip the wetted rim of a wide-mouth margarita glass in course ground salt, and strain the drink into the glass, garnished with lime slice. Or, blend the drink with ice for a frozen margarita.
There are all kinds of variations, of course, and real drinkers may prefer a floater (half-ounce of Cuervo gold on top, unmixed), while weight watchers may prefer a “skinny margarita” — all the above without the simple syrup. Many drinkers skip the salt treatment.
These days it’s hard to find a resort of note that does not feature the margarita in its spring menu, but some are really standouts.
You could start with a Mansfield Margarita prepared at the Cactus Café in Stowe, where they say, “Life is too short to drink cheap tequila”.
Vermont skiing’s estimable Jen Butson also recommends Gringo Jack’s in Manchester, where the margaritas are just as customized as you want to order them, and where the Tex-Mex food is fabulous. And, look for a most up-tempo festive atmosphere in Gringo Jack’s. This is a party place.
Next in Vermont, try Timbuktu in Lyndonville, where the Burke skiers and boarders enjoy their spring margaritas with curacao. The nachos reign supreme with these margs, and the heavier food can carry the après ski moment into a meal.
At Sugarbush, the Hyde Away has a nice margarita presentation — by the pitcher is an option. Of course, if the timing is right, try Taco Tuesdays for a very workable Tex-Mex meal with your ’ritas.
A strong candidate for top honors goes to Café Noche on Main Street in Conway, which is within reach of skiers from Attitash to Wildcat, Cranmore, Black and all those in between.
At Waterville Valley, the Legends bar in the village square has an excellent margarita presentation — which usually means a big pitcher. They can customize the drink to suit you — think a floater of gold on top — and the food is in the same spirit.
One of the classic spring scenes is found at Sugarloaf Maine in front of the base lodge at a outdoor venue called The Beach. The margs can come from a number of sources there, but most likely the Widowmaker bar upstairs in the base area with a wraparound deck overlooking the action.
During Reggae Fest in early April, the margarita and southern food are a natural. Down the access road a bit, check out The Rack, a fabulous barbecue pit owned by Olympic snowboard champion Seth Wescott. The Rack does more wonderful things with all meats than you can imagine. And, of course, in spring the doors open and margarita sipping comes outdoors.
At Sunday River, excellent margaritas are served at Mill Brook Tavern in Bethel, along with the Funky Red Barn, whose owner, Barry Hallett, re-enacted the legendary trick of trucking snow down to Boston to show the snowless world what they had on the Maine slopes.
Mill Brook also has a version of Skinny Girl margaritas, which serves the drink minus the sugary syrup. Also at Sunday River, check out Legends at the Summit for an excellent margarita presentation.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of New England Ski Journal.
Tony Chamberlain can be reached at email@example.com