The Chipotle Patron Margarita: You Get What You Pay For

Did I just spy a cocktail shaker behind the cashier at my local Chipotle? Why, yes, I did. Chipotle has rolled out a new Patron Margarita, a margarita "so good, you'll forget you're drinking from a plastic cup." Their words, not mine.

I just had to see that shaker in action and find out more about what makes this $6.95 margarita so premium, and how it stacks up to the standard Chipotle margarita.

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If your first thought is, "Wait, Chipotle had a margarita all this time?'" -- I'm not surprised. My very informal survey resulted in exactly zero members of the burrito-loving public knowing this. That's right. The standard margarita has shared the booze menu with Dos Equis and Corona all this time. If you didn't notice it, blame the Sauza Silver and bottled sour mix for that. Chipotle went for the muscle with its premium Patron Margarita, substituting the sour mix bottle with fresh house-squeezed lime and lemon juice and adding 100 percent agave syrup. The result? Well, it's mixed, unlike the margarita.

Since it will be the cashier mixing your margarita, its arrival to your table can be heavily delayed by a sudden rush of burrito-hungry customers. And since your margarita is still made by the cashier, and not someone with experience making cocktails, that lovely chuka-chuka-chuka song of a cocktail shaker happily at work evenly shaking all parts of a drink together? Completely absent, resulting in a thick layer of agave syrup at the bottom of your plastic cup.

With a standard margarita in front of me (which has also been upgraded to house-squeezed juice and agave syrup), and a new premium margarita in front of my companion, straws still swirling from mixing in the bottom-heavy agave syrup, we dove in, and quickly saw the law of relativity in action. At first taste, both hit hard with the booze and the high acid, followed by that thick agave sweetness, but the Sauza roughness recalled cheap Las Vegas strip free-with-a-coupon margaritas, and it was only after this rough swallow that the smoother premium factor of the Patron Margarita came through, prompting a "not so vile" judgment from my companion.

Can you ask much more from two cocktails from a fast food chain costing $4.50 and $6.95, respectively, other than to leave you buzzed and with a sour stomach? Even one with responsible product sourcing? Probably not, but the buzzed part was pretty satisfying.

Beware: Don't expect Chipotle's corporate uniformity to make it into its new Patron Margarita. Three different store locations presented three wildly different drinks, but all with the same buzz and sour stomach. But, honestly, not a bad way to get $6.95 worth, on the rocks, with a salt rim on request.

As proprietor of Muñeca Mexicana handcrafted food, Minerva Orduno Rincon makes everything from mole poblano to goat milk caramel to spiced (not spicy) cocoa. Find her at a farmers market near you.

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