Top 10 margaritas in the Twin Cities

The margarita is a classic, no doubt about it. The earliest published recipe we can find is in Esquire magazine in 1953. The recipe called for tequila, orange liqueur, and fresh lime.

As everything else does, this drink evolved in various ways, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. In Mexico you will be hard pressed to find a margarita that doesn't have a splash of orange juice naturally sweetening the drink and rounding out the flavor profile. In America many presweetened products inferior to fresh juice and far more expensive have for some reason become common. These premade "margarita mixes" might make it easier for a person to throw a fiesta at home, but they have no place in a professional bar.

In many bars bartenders have experimented with tequila infusions, alternative natural sweeteners, and various liqueurs.

In our Twin Cities there is no shortage of delicious margaritas, both traditional and experimental. Here are the 10 best.

10. Cobra Verde at La Belle Vie ($9) One of the most unique takes on the drink that still tastes like a margarita. For quite some time now LBV's Johnny Michaels has been putting left-field flavor combinations together that fit so perfectly you wonder how you never thought of it. This one uses a touch of absinthe, which is all you need to get the potent taste of anise onto the palate, and a bit of cherry liqueur. These flavors combined with the sour of the lime and the salt on the rim seem made for one another.

9. Conquistador Margarita at Bradstreet Craftshouse ($9) Bradstreet, tucked away in the street level of the Graves 601 Hotel, has been making incredible cocktails for years. Their use of homemade bitters and ninja-like cocktail techniques create a true experience for the guest. The Conquistador's use of "hell-fire" bitters paired with Liqor 43 (a Spanish liqueur with something of a vanilla-cake flavor) make this a nice balance of sweet, citrus, and just a touch of spice.

8. Godzillita! at Masu Sushi & Robota ($9) I know a sushi bar wouldn't be the first place one would think to have one of the Cities' finest margaritas, but this one really is. Another creation of Johnny Michaels, the Godzillita makes use of a plum tea syrup, ginger, and a hot pepper tincture. The glass is rimmed with a black and white salt mixture that adds a nice contrast against the deep green cocktail, a neat aesthetic. 

7. Armitage Margarita at Café Maude A truly refreshing example of what everyone wants the margaritas at their all-inclusive vacation spot to taste like but never do. A classic margarita with the flavor of orange cranked up just a little.

6. Tradicional at Masa ($7) Fresh citrus muddled in the glass and homemade sour make this margarita a delicious way to end your day or begin your night. Masa, a D'Amico concept, was truly the first in town to give classic Mexican cuisine and cocktails a makeover, and it is still one of the best.

5. The Trinity at Barrio ($9.50) One of the most straightforward examples in town of the original margarita: tequila, Cointreau, and lime. With three locations and a taco truck, Barrio is proving itself to be an institution in the TC.

4. La Clasica at Rosa Mexicano ($11) Rosa Mexicano, the new kid in town, really delivers with this classic-style margarita. Fresh juice and organic agave nectar are used in this step up from its basic margarita, along with 100% agave tequila. 

3. Bullfighter at La Cucaracha ($10) St Paul's longtime Mexican favorite La Cucaracha makes this one with fresh lime and Grand Marnier. A huge jump in quality from its standard margarita, it is well worth the upcharge.

2. House Margarita at Chino Latino ($10) Uptown's well-established hangout delivers a consistently delicious (and strong) classic-style margarita that is only half the price during happy hour.

1. Cervezarita at Pancho Villa ($8) Pancho Villa is a margarita Mecca; its house margarita recipe has even appeared on other restaurants' cocktail lists. With the Cervezarita, I think it might have reinvented the wheel. With a beer attached to your glass, you drink the margarita and slowly the beer pours into your glass. The result is a new take on the concept of a beer back.

Previous coverage:

Top 10 dive bars in the Twin Cities

Top 10 late-night restaurants in the Twin Cities

Top 10 romantic restaurants in the Twin Cities

Top 10 bloody Marys in the Twin Cities

Top 10 macaroni & cheese dishes in the Twin Cities

Top 10 burgers in the Twin Cities

Top 10 sushi restaurants in the Twin Cities

Top 10 ice cream shops in the Twin Cities

Top 10 coffeehouses in the Twin Cities

Top 10 hot dogs in the Twin Cities

Top 10 pizzerias in the Twin Cities

Top 5 brewpubs in the Twin Cities

All of these lists are available on City Pages' new Best of the Twin Cities app. Click here to see it in action.

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