Classic margaritas aren't hard to come by, but when was the last time you had a cotton candy-topped or chile-infused margarita? With unexpected flavors and exciting additions, these recipes may have you headed across the country to try them yourself.
Margaritas are an excellent drink for Cinco de Mayo (or anytime). Here are 10 of the most unique and wild margaritas you can find at different spots in the United States.
El Ninja in New York
What happens when you slice a martini with a margarita? You get the El Ninja margarita from Cosme. Located in Manhattan's Flatiron District, this restaurant uses a splice base of mezcal and gin.
Add in some dry vermouth, lime, and then a ginger shiso shrub — this cocktail has an herbaceous dry finish unlike other margaritas. Cosme's whole margarita menu plays with the classic drink, but not all sneak up on a drinker like El Ninja.
Meowgarita in New Mexico
When thinking about food in New Mexico, it's tempting to think everything will be infused with or feature chiles in some form. But at the immersive art space Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, the Float Cafe & Bar concocts something more whimsical.
The base is familiar — reposado tequila, cointreau, lime, and agave — but the bar adds butterfly pea flower tea, serves it in a highball glass instead of a smaller rocks glass and then adds a large cloud of cotton candy speckled with small pieces of sweets. It's one of the more ethereal takes on a margarita.
Hibiscus Margarita in D.C.
Tico, in Washington, D.C.'s U Street neighborhood, whips up a surprisingly tropical twist on the classic cocktail. Their Hibiscus Margarita is vibrant in both flavor and color — it's a bright magenta from the floral infusion that adds a tartness to the drink.
Mixed with milagro blanco, orange liqueur, hibiscus, agave, and lime, it's a refreshing touch for both the frigid winters and muggy summers in D.C.
Congress Margarita in Arizona
If you are looking for a green chile-inspired margarita, Arizona has one that fits the bill. The Congress Margarita at Tuscon's Hotel Congress uses smoky mezcal as the base, but the real heat is from a green chile liqueur shaken in with the spirit.
For an additional kick, the rim is lined with chiltepin, a tiny red chile that grows wild in Arizona. Plus, there's a jalapeno garnish for one final touch.
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Mezcal Margarita in Oregon
Inside Güero’s sandwich shop in Portland, Oregon, is a margarita-lovers heaven. The Mezcal Margarita delivers the smoky spirit alongside both grapefruit juice and a pamplemousse rose, with multiple kinds of salt. The result is equal parts dry and refreshing. And it goes well with a torta.
Spiced Daisy in Texas
In Austin, Texas, there's Las Perlas, the agave spirit bar with a wide selection of tequilas and mezcal. The sister bar of the one of the same name in Los Angeles, it also carries the Spiced Daisy, a margarita riff that keeps classic tequila, lime, and agave, and adds in cucumber, jalapeno, and the orange liqueur Combier.
Pro-tip: Are you into margaritas, but traveling with someone who isn't a tequila fan? Don't worry, there are other options. Las Perlas is located next to several bars from the same ownership, including the whiskey bar Seven Grand.
Nitro Margarita in California
San Francisco has plenty of options for good margaritas to go with the bevy of Mexican food in the city, but how many of those cocktails are carbonated with nitrogen? The Snug serves up the Nitro Margarita — a classic with a twist. The recipe includes tequila, lime, and agave, but the nitro infusion gives it carbonation, which adds a different and unusual experience that is far from the standard.
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Stealth Margarita in Las Vegas
Yes, this margarita is on the Las Vegas Strip. And yes, it's frozen. But that doesn't mean you should write off or pass up the opportunity to try the Stealth Margarita at Ghost Donkey. Located inside the Cosmopolitan hotel, it's the one frozen cocktail on the menu.
The bar is stocked with tequila and mezcal, but this blend of lime, chili, St. Germain, and cucumber are equal parts cool, refreshing, spicy, and strong. And that's kind of the point of a margarita. Plus, you're in the desert so a cold drink feels appropriate.
Space Juice for Jered in Illinois
Chicago's Punch House specializes in punches, and their cocktail — Space Juice for Jered — takes that approach to the classic drink. The two big changes? The addition of sage, black pepper, and plenty of sparkling wine, gives this one a much different feel than other margaritas in the United States.
Mai Tai Margarita in Louisiana
The Big Easy's Johnny Sanchez restaurant mixes a Satsuma rum and blanco tequila in its Mai Tai Margarita. Add in some lime and pineapple juice and it's ready to drink. For added originality, the whole drink is served in a large skull mug.
Sometimes a simple, classic margarita is the way to go. The combination of tequila or mezcal, lime, and orange liqueur has stood the test of time. After all, it's popular for a reason. But step outside your comfort zone and try a flowery, spicy, fruity, or wildly different margarita flavor to mix it up.
This is a great list to keep in mind when traveling to any one of these spots in the U.S. Or be adventurous and try replicating the recipe at home. Maybe you’ll even come up with an entirely new concoction by adding in your favorite spices and tastes.
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