Best Specialty Margaritas 2011 | Cien Agaves | La Vida | Phoenix
Jamie Peachey
Cien Agaves lives up to its name, with 100 different types of tequila on hand, but it's the way Cien Agaves makes use of that tequila that really has us hooked. Prickly pear, hibiscus, cucumber, and mango margaritas all grace the menu, and they're all worth lingering over with a basket of chips and salsa on the side. We recommend the habanero lime margarita if you're feeling particularly adventurous. It's an intriguing combo of frosty citric sweetness and a slow burn that keeps you coming back for more. Or you can split the Gigante, a 56-ounce mega-size marg, if it's going to be one of those nights.
Meagan Simmons
Colorful piñatas hanging from the ceiling and plastic parrots on the wall are all you need to see to know that Mi Patio's pitchers of margarita may not be made with top-shelf ingredients. But who wants to waste high-quality sipping tequila when your margs will be paired with decadent, deep-fried, cheese-smothered Sonoran food? The pitchers of margarita from Mi Patio are the pitch-perfect accompaniment to the menu. We recommend pairing your half-gallon of marg with the Appetizer Supreme, a feast of chimis, flautas, nachos, and gyros meat. Yep, we said gyros. It's the perfect post-work escape or weekend treat for a group, and it's cheap enough not to break the bank.

Best Illegal Double-Fisted Margarita


We have been drinking at Z'Tejas for years, and our drink of choice has always been the Chambord Margarita. On a recent night out, we learned why. We'd just about finished one marg when our waitress kindly asked if we wanted another round. Yes, please. Not quite done with Marg #1, we sat back with both drinks before us, oblivious to the fact that clearly, we were no longer a law-abiding citizen. "Um, ma'am, I'm sorry," a deep voice said from behind, "but you simply can't sit with both of those drinks." Turns out, according to state law, you can't have more than four ounces of liquor in front of you at once, and the Chambord Margarita at Z'Tejas calls for nothing less. (Four ounces!? Jeez, that's a lot of booze!) Oops. It was nothing a straw didn't take care of quickly — and it solved a mystery. Now we know why we love the Chambord Margaritas at Z'Tejas so much.
ASU has a reputation for being a party school, but the three ASU alumni who own Cruz Tequila have created a refined sipping tequila that leaves Jose firmly in the collegiate past. Organic and au naturel ingredients are processed in Jalisco, Mexico, and this premium tequila doesn't rely on anything other than the real-deal agave to create its smoothness. No weird additives or unnatural flavors — just pure, hard agave. What's that you say? You don't like tequila? Put down the Jose and upgrade to a hometown tequila that can be sipped solo, mixed in fruity margaritas, or served on an ice block and still hold its own.
Canteen most definitely deserves the "modern" in its name, with contemporary design and a luxe atmosphere. The bar is particularly notable, decorated by upward of 100 types of various blanco, reposado, and aejo tequilas on display (with a bit of mescal added for good measure). To sweeten the deal, Canteen offers a daily "Halfy Hour," when their ridiculously huge tequila selection is half-priced. Specialty tequilas, ranging from $3.50 to upwards of $30 after the discount, are so varied that they might make a convert of even the staunchest but-I-hate-tequila person. Canteen's impressive tequila selection is a welcome addition to the Mill Avenue scene — and you won't leave you feeling seedy and well past your prime, as you might at some Mill Ave youth-centric bars.
During the day, Sky Lounge remains dark, vacant, and locked up tighter than the prescription pills at LiLo's house. After nightfall on Wednesdays through Sundays, however, both floors of the two-level downtown Phoenix discoteca come alive with colored lights, glowing video screens, hundreds of patrons, and a cacophonous cornucopia of Latin music. A steady stream of merengue hits, bachata beats, and reggaeton vibes pump out of a 20,000-watt Dynacord sound system, Occasionally, they're punctuated by the amplified voice of Sky Lounge's emcee making shout-outs to the crowd, announcing drink specials, and giving birthday wishes to those in the house. The interior typically is home to a rollicking sea of dancers both upstairs and downstairs, including plenty of cabrones and chicas. Gentlemen typically sport sharp shiny shirts and ghetto-fab garb, while ladies tend toward tight dresses, low-cut blouses, and skintight jeans. But even if you don't get to bailar with a bonita babe by night's end, chances are you'll eventually run into her mingling about amid the mass of humanity hanging out on the sidewalk after closing time.
Sexy, swanky, and stylish duds are a virtual necessity if one hopes to get past the dour and discerning doormen outside the entrance to Club Silver on a Friday night. These black-shirted beefcakes don't look a thing like Clinton Kelly, but they'll definitely dispense advice on what not to wear with as much rancor as the fabulous, fashion-minded TV personality as they guard the velvet ropes with impunity. (Hint: Dickies wear, athletic jerseys, or Coogi jorts do not an ensemble make.) Looking your best is probably a good idea since hundreds of members of the sexy Latin crowd will be scoping you out. Big ballers and top-shelf chicas sporting high-dollar threads fill the club during its biggest night of the week, popping bottles in VIP booths while the DJ duo of Kyko and Dario cast a spell over the crowd with a mix of tracks from such Hispanic hitmakers as Wisin y Yandel, Elvis Crespo, Don Omar, and Pitbull. The jam-packed scene makes moving around difficult, but folks tend to clear a path whenever waitresses bring out bottles of premium booze with glowing sparklers attached. After all, who wants to get their outfit scorched?
To the uninitiated, the life of a DJ may seem like one of total bliss. He works easy hours, gets to spin the latest hits while soaking up the adulation of club kids, and rakes in the hotties. Although some of these benefits of being a beat-master prove true (well, for the most part), there are also plenty of aggravations to go along with the job. Like when shifty club owners steal your gear, renege on money owed, or cancel your night after only a few weeks. Raul Guerra has endured such drama throughout his decade-long career on the decks but still possesses enough chutzpah, wherewithal, and passion for Latin music to keep on staging spin gigs in discotecas across the Valley. Guerra's worked a slew of local joints, including such hotspots as Axis/Radius and Club Tropicana in Scottsdale, Glendale's Kumbala Bar, La Taverna, Club Rain, and DWNTWN (just to name a few). He's also maintained an eight-year residence at Sky Lounge, dropping rock and pop en español along with Latin dance jams every Friday night. From the DJ booth, he paints from a vibrant musical palette, mixing pop hits from Elefantes and Los Enanitos Verdes with sweltering dance tracks from such sirens as Paulina Rubio and Shakira.
This popular discoteca is packed with mamacitas who keep up with the booty-shaking beats of cumbia, mariachi, banda, and norteño music blasting across the huge dance floor. Whether it's a live band or a DJ spinning, these Latin melodies will keep you meneando tu culo all night long.
This seven-member group performs at quinceañeras, weddings, and any special occasion you want to spice up with the flavor of authentic Mexican mariachis. Orgullo de Mexico performs every Sunday at the Matador Mexican restaurant in downtown Phoenix. Dressed in traditional charro suits, el cantante, accompanied by trumpets, guitars, a violin, and an amazing harpist, serenades diners with classic Mexican ballads and gladly takes requests. While members have come and gone over the years, the core group has been performing for 33 years in the Phoenix area. Book this popular group for $350 per hour, with a two-hour minimum, at least two months in advance, because their calendar fills up fast.

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