Located near Union Square, Tortaria is a Mexican eatery and bar that serves up one of the best margaritas in the city. Responsible for this amazing concoction is head bartender Diego Mejia, who is originally from Mexico and has been behind bars since he was teenager. We caught up with Mejia during lunch hour for a quick Q&A on margaritas, hangover drinks, and Mexican food.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from Mexico. I was born in Mexico City and grew up in the restaurant business. My family, they owned a business in Mexico. But then when I was 16, I moved to New York to bartend.
How did you learn how to bartend?
When I lived in Mexico, I worked in a small cantina. So I always made drinks for fun and played with tequila, rum, and all types of liquor. When I came to New York City, I just got good opportunities because I knew about liquor.
What makes your margarita so different?
I believe it’s one of the best margaritas in New York City. We use lime juice. We make the lime juice to develop a better taste for the drink. And instead of sugar, we use agave nectar. We also use tequila silver and tequila blanco. It’s all about creating a fresh margarita. And most places use sour mix. We don’t use a sour mix, we just use the limes to make our own sour mix.
Do you follow a specific recipe?
There is a recipe for it, but I like to use my own version. I mix the flavors with fruits and spices. I make tequila with some spices and cucumbers to create fresh fruit margaritas. I just like to play with the fruit I get.
What’s another specialty drink that you’d recommend?
The michelada. It’s for those people who really like to drink. When you’re hung over, it’s a really fresh drink for your body. We put salsa magi, valentina, fresh lime juice, salt, and beer.
What’s the best menu item that goes well with the liquor here?
The taquitos. It’s the best food to pair with your margaritas. Here we also make our own homemade tortillas. Taquitos and margaritas are the best.