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Flavors of the Southwest at Agave on the Rocks.
Jason Hill

People in different parts of the world take pride in their local specialties, especially if they have a high alcohol content. So in the Southwest, with our proximity to Mexico, it's practically patriotic to knock back some mighty fine tequila, which takes its place in the pantheon of world libations next to Russian vodka, Cuban rum, French wine, Greek ouzo, Japanese sake and Belgian beer.

Celebrate the world's most popular tequila drink on Saturday, March 29, when the Desert Botanical Garden hosts Agave on the Rocks A Margarita Challenge, a fund raiser to benefit the garden's programs. Favorite Valley restaurants will offer samples of delicious Mexican cuisine along with tastings of their top margarita recipes. Guests will be greeted with their own drinking glass and a "passport" to each restaurant that will later serve as a ballot for selecting the best margarita for the "People's Choice Award."

Agave on the Rocks is a first for the garden, and will be held annually. Carla Foster, special events coordinator, says it's the result of a concerted effort to reach out to the broader community. "It seemed like the perfect event, because we do have a large agave collection here," she adds.

That's right, there's an educational element to the celebration, so your buzz will be justified.

Agave on the Rocks is just a highlight of the first Agave Festival, which offers more family-oriented activities live music and dance performances, an agave bake, lectures, crafts and garden tours all weekend long.

"I think it's going to be an absolutely fabulous experience," says Foster. When tequila's involved, isn't it always?

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