Top 10 margaritas in the Twin Cities
On this glorious morning, the eve of National Margarita Day, you might be asking yourself, "Can't I drink tequila, triple sec, and lime every day? Shouldn't I? Doesn't one?" The answer is yes, yes, and yes. But today, we take time to recognize the stars and standouts, the margaritas that don't just phone it in. These are the top ten margaritas in the Twin Cities.
This list brings together newcomers and old standards, with the common threads of quality ingredients, inventive combinations, and outright audacity of spirit. National Margarita Day comes but once a year: Get out and try one or three while you've got the officially sanctioned excuse.
VillaRita at Pancho Villa
10. VillaRita at Pancho Villa ($8) This hefty marg (formerly the Cervezarita) made our top ten last time around and will continue to be on it for the foreseeable future. That's because this 'rita comes with a contraption that keeps the cutest little bottle of Corona suspended head first above your punch bowl of icy cold tequila juice and dispenses as you sip. This margarita is either the best idea or the worst idea. You decide.
Margarita at Lake and Irving
9. Margarita at Lake and Irving ($8) What would a margarita be without salt? Let Lake and Irving show you. Their sophisticated take combines El Jimador with Cointreau, Grand Marnier, and fresh lime, served up and rimmed with powdered Li-Hing Mui, a dried plum candy popular in Hawaii and sprinkled on everything from gummy bears to popcorn. Bright pink, sour, salty, and sweet, this unexpected addition stands out from the pack and packs a pucker.
Agave Margarita at Agave Kitchen
8. Agave Margarita at Agave Kitchen ($6) You'd expect a restaurant taking its name from the very life force of a margarita to make a darn good one. Agave Kitchen in Hudson, Wisconsin boasts an impressive selection of tequilas and they know how to use them. Pictured alongside the taller House Margarita ($3 on happy hour!), the Agave Margarita is made with fresh, house-made margarita mix, 100% agave tequila, and agave nectar to sweeten the deal. Without trying too hard to reinvent the wheel, this simple scratch-made sipper is worth the drive.
The McGee at Bar Abilene
7. The McGee at Bar Abilene ($8) This Uptown Tex-Mex spot earns its place in the margarita hall of fame, if only for the sheer volume of their list. An entire page of the menu is dedicated to spins and takes on the classic cocktail, from fruity fun party time drinks to elegant ventures into craft cocktail territory. The award-winning McGee stands out with fresh muddled basil, a cherry version of Grand Marnier, and a top-off of Fulton Lonely Blond, which provides a touch of bubbles and a malty-hoppy layer of flavor. Because as we all know, the only thing that makes a margarita better is a side of beer.
The Bullfighter, Straight Up, at La Cucaracha
6.The Bullfighter, Straight Up at La Cucaracha ($10) A previous iteration of our best and brightest margaritas honored La Cucaracha's Bullfighter for its expert execution. Take this classic one step further and order it "straight up" -- code for an iceless, sugar-free, all fresh-pressed lime version. It's exceptionally bright and tart, packing a wallop of tequila taste, and because it's essentially a "skinny girl" margarita (created before that was a thing), you can save room for the free munchies served bar side from Monday to Wednesday. Seconds, and thirds, of the decadent, saucy wings are practically mandatory.
Granada at Nico's
5. Granada at Nico's Taco and Tequila Bar ($8.50) This charming, sunlit taco joint in Uptown is carving out a name for itself using quality ingredients and making them taste good; their margaritas are no exception. We're partial to the Granada, a sweeter than average but oh-so-drinkable combination of blanco tequila, pomegranate liqueur, blood orange puree, and yuzu.
Enter the Dragon at Barrio Lowertown
4. Enter the Dragon at Barrio ($10) Enter the spice-lovers margarita, made with muddled fresh fresno pepper. Heat slaps the tongue while a splash of cava blankets it in sweetness and bubbles; juicy passion fruit rounds out your first sip, with Barrio's signatures sugar-salt combination rim keeps your taste buds guessing. The sunny yellow hue serves as an important reminder that warmer weather is on the way (isn't it?).
Milagro Margarita at Ward 6
3. Milagro Margarita at Ward 6 ($8) You'd be hard-pressed to track down a margarita more perfectly spicy and sweet than the Milagro at Ward 6, oozing with thick, slurpable mango puree and a lemon and habanero-infused tequila. The heat starts soft and subtle and builds in intensity with each sip. Brilliant soft orange in color, served on the rocks in a shapely low glass, this cocktail's one book you can judge by its cover.
Mothership Rita at Icehouse
2. Mothership Rita at Icehouse ($10) Get a healthy dose of winter citrus with this wonderfully bitter and complex margarita. Bursting with juicy grapefruit and earthy rhubarb, the Mothership is enhanced with a hint of Aperol, tying together this compact, ruby-hued sipper. When it comes to big things in small packages, Icehouse notably delivers on all fronts with this tequila-laced libation.
Margarita at Sonora Grill
1. Margarita at Sonora Grill (price varies) We gave you the heads up about the Obregon at their brick-and-mortar location, but when it comes down to brass tacks, the margarita in its purest form will always be our favorite. That's why Sonora Grill's perfectly portioned version of the classic is our number one pick. Expertly balanced and smooth, with the faintest tingle of carbonation and nary a fake flavoring agent in sight, theirs is not just a margarita, it's the margarita.
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