The Margarita has indeed traveled a long way from its native Mexico. The latest stop in its worldwide spread is Brunei, a small country on the island of Borneo.
Recently, the Sheraton Utama, the only five-star hotel in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital city, introduced not one but a variety of Margaritas. The drink has found wide acceptance among expatriates and visitors. Its novelty appeals in a country where there is not much entertainment other than socializing at home.
Bandar, as it is called for short, has only about 50,000 residents, which is about one-fourth the population of the entire country. Life is quiet but prosperous, for Brunei is rich from oil and gas and boasts one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.
Free to Drink
Most of the inhabitants are Malays, and Islam is the official religion. Since Muslims do not consume alcohol, it is surprising to find Margaritas or other alcoholic beverages served publicly. However, Brunei supports freedom of religion, and non-Muslims who reside there are free to drink. There is even a liquor store stocking tequila, California wine and other products in downtown Bandar.
With both attitudes toward alcohol in mind, the Sheraton has come up with a tactful compromise. In addition to a basic Margarita made according to the classic formula, the bar produces a wide range of fruit Margaritas. These are made by blending fresh fruit and ice into the basic tequila mixture. Depending upon what is in season, one can have mango, strawberry, pineapple and even watermelon Margaritas. The compromise is that the fruit Margaritas come with or without alcohol so that nondrinkers can enjoy them, too.
Here is the recipe for the Sheraton's mango Margarita, a big, frosty drink that is welcome in Brunei's equatorial climate and nice for summer drinking anywhere.
SHERATON UTAMA'S MANGO MARGARITA
1/2 mango, peeled
3 ounces tequila
1 ounce triple sec
1 1/2 ounces lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
6 ice cubes
Combine mango, tequila, triple sec, lime juice, syrup and ice in blender. Blend until slushy. Serve in margarita glasses. Makes 1 large or 2 medium servings.