In general, Tequila as a spirit gets a pretty bad rap – almost everyone at some time or another has had that experience with really cheap Tequila that leaves them swearing off of it for life. But the times change and now, it’s a spirit to be sipped and enjoyed.

With that in mind, Friday marks National Margarita Day, a day that is synonymous with Tequila. The margarita has changed quite a bit from the days of sweet and sour mix and cheap booze, as we leaned from two local establishments.

Photo Credit: Tres, via Facebook

At Tres, General Manager Fabien Santos said bringing back 100% blue agave from Jalisco and the rise in agave nectar has meant a change in the quality of margaritas. “We also use fresh ingredients to really bring out the agave,” he said. “We are staying true to our recipe and what we experienced in Jalisco for that authentic feel.” Tres always has about 15 margaritas on its menu, including a monthly special using the Tequila of the month. “The Tres Margarita is our signature drink, a classic lowland margarita. We like for our entire staff to understand the process and so we send them to Mexico, where they visit Tequilla distilleries and see the process from start to finish,” Santos said. “The great thing about Tequila is there’s always a story behind it.” Tres is located at 130 Townsend Street in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, Rosa Mexicano Manager Evelyn Sarmiento said one word describes the restaurant’s philosophy on the margarita – balance. “We’re really trying to find the perfect balance for our drinks, so they’re not too strong, but also aren’t watered down at all,” Sarmiento said. “We use freshly squeezed lime juice and fresh ingredients. That along with the organic agave nectar makes for a balanced drink.” Rosa Mexicano has several margaritas on its cocktail menu, along with a number of shaken cocktails featuring both Tequila and Mezcal. She said the Frozen Pomegranate Margarita remains the restaurant’s signature drink. “I think there is more knowledge of Tequila these days. It’s almost like wine where the better quality Tequila is like sipping on a fine wine. We really want to showcase the Tequila and have out guests taste it, while also maintaining that balance with the other ingredients.” Rosa Mexicano is located at 30 Mission Street in San Francisco.

Previous Coverage: Places to grab a margarita in San Francisco.