It's National Margarita Day today, February 22. We don't really care about bullshit food holidays created for marketing, but, every now and then, we make an exception. But one doesn't need a holiday or a time (5 o'clock, noon, or whatever you go by) to show up before knocking back a marg or two. The refreshing drink reaches heights here in the Southwest. We're lucky to live in a margarita wonderland. Here are eight of the Valley's best.
Margarita at SideBar. Half the fun of going to SideBar is watching the talented bartenders squeeze, shake, mix, and muddle your drink to perfection. The bar's take on a margarita on the rocks is sure to calm your margarita cravings with its evenly balanced sweet and tart components. Plus, if you go during happy hour (Monday to Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday 5 to 7 p.m.), your margarita will be only $4.25.
Margarita at The Duce. Everything at The Duce is made from old recipes, and its margarita is no different. Based on a recipe from 1941, the bartender squeezes fresh lime after fresh lime into a shaker, adding Tierras Organic Tequila, Fruit Lab Orange Liqueur, and agave before muddling even more lime. The small drink, served in a cutesy mason jar with a brightly colored straw is so refreshing — like a booze-infused limeade — that you'll want to drink one after another when the temps start to rise.
Prickly Pear Margarita at Rokerji. Every time we try something new from the Richardson's/Rokerij/Dick's Hideaway group, we fall in love. Their nearly $10 prickly pear margarita is no exception, although we winced at price. The combination of usual margarita suspects with the kiwi-strawberry Snapple-like flavor of prickly pear adds an extra fruitiness to the drink, and we just can't get enough.
Huckleberry Frozen Margarita at Roaring Fork. Finally, a margarita with a delicious berry twist. It might not be authentic, but it sure is good to drink. It's worth mentioning that this huckleberry margarita is the only frozen blended margarita that made the list. That's saying a lot, because we can't stand the brain freeze that so often comes with blended margs.
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Jamaica Margarita at Barrio Cafe. This floral take on the classic cocktail is sure to brighten up your spring. Believe it or not, the Tesoro silver tequila, Grand Marnier, and fresh lime juice with a hibiscus flower reduction is only the second-most popular pink margarita at Barrio, after the Pink Cadillac, but its unique flavor puts it at number one for us.
Aguacate Margarita at The Mission. While some margaritas try to have the consistency of an ICEE, The Mission's aguacate (avocado) margarita is more like a smoothie. The creamy blended avocado provides a luxurious base to the drink, which is silky and incomparably intoxicating. All that goodness is offset by a limey, sour nature so tasty that it's hard to tell that this is an alcoholic concoction. We also recommend The Mission margarita — if avocado isn't your thing.
Fresh Squeezed Margarita at Sierra Bonita Grill. What's so special about Sierra Bonita's margarita? Remy Martin. You won't see the addition of Remy on the list, so you have to ask for the fresh-squeezed margarita with Remy Martin.The hit of the super-sweet liquor at the end adds color to the glass, which starts with shaken orange juice, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and orange liqueur. It's definitely not a margarita for lightweights. But if you can handle it, it's delicious.
Pitcher of Margarita at Mi Patio. Though Mi Patio's margarita kind of tastes like lime Gatorade, the fact that you get a huge pitcher for nearly $12 when other bars serve one marg for more than that puts it in the running. Combined with one of Mi Patio's huge and inexpensive plates, the proportions are sure to leave you satisfied.