Thank Bats for that Margarita!

It's the height of summer, and perhaps you are outside embracing the sun and heat while you sip a cold margarita and snack on fresh salsa. If you are grateful for that icy libation, send a thank you over the summer breeze to the lesser long-nosed bat.

Hibiscus-Infused Frozen Margarita
with Spicy Rim at Fonda
That's right. Bats are responsible for your margarita.

The agave plant is a food source for the lesser long-nosed bat which migrates annually from Mexico to the Sonoran Dessert in Arizona. As bats drink the nectar from agave flowers, they pick up a dusting of pollen which is then transferred to other flowers as they move along to feed.

As the US Forest Service reminds us on their Bat Pollination Page, "The agave is an important plant because it is used to make tequila." (If the Forest Service has any sway, it looks unlikely that we're due for another era of prohibition anytime soon.)

I learned this fun fact about tequila during "An Evening with the Bats"--a tour led by naturalist Paul Keim from the Brooklyn Bird Club for members of the Prospect Park Alliance. When I told friends and co-workers about the tour their reactions included more than one anxious reply about what might happen out in the park with bats about.

As it turns out, little brown bats are out and about every night in Prospect Park eating up mosquitos and other insects in impressive numbers. On average, these bats ingest 1,000 mosquito-sized insects over a period of an hour. I'm one of those unlucky humans who happens to be a prime mosquito target, so I really appreciate their voracious appetites.

Sadly, negative bat myths abound, partially due to the Hollywood imagination. Bats do not have a tendency to get tangled in ladies' hair. Nor are they blind. Some myths are based on partial truths. For example, there are three species of bats (out of 1,200) that feed on blood. Although, according to the organization Bat Conservation International, "they lap it like kittens rather than sucking it up as horror movies suggest." The image this thought evokes is not as comforting as perhaps the author intended.

Regardless, bats do an incredible amount of good in the world. Is there any mango in that salsa you're hypothetically snacking on? Well, bats are responsible for pollinating mango plants too. And, fruit-eating bats are helping to restore rainforests.

Unfortunately, bats are having a challenging time these days. White-nose syndrome, a fungal disease, has killed more than 5 million bats in recent years. Other hardships are caused by human destruction or alterations to their habitats. Your friend, the lesser long-nosed bat is on the endangered species list.

But, you can do something to help ensure there's enough tequila flowing for many summers to come. You can become a member of the August Cause of the Month: Bat Conservation International.

Classic Margarita at Fonda
In honor of bats, I went to my favorite neighborhood spot this afternoon for a margarita--Fonda. The margaritas are never too sweet, and they are always delicious. You also can't beat their happy hour menu.

If you aren't enjoying an icy margarita, you can do something about that too.

I'm not sure what the recipe is for the delicious margaritas at Fonda, but here is a recipe from the NY Cocktail Club archives.  The Tequila! Cocktail Club meeting was hosted last year by A, who is now a long-distance member, having relocated from the Lushous Apple.

Give it a whirl--fresh juices, agave syrup and a quality liqueur like Grand Marnier make all the difference in a worthwhile margarita.


The Perfect Margarita
(Makes 1 serving)

1 1/2 ounces silver tequila
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce agave nectar
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
splash of fresh orange juice