Arguably the most important holiday for our great nation, tequila will pour wildly on Friday, February 22 to ring in National Margarita Day. A match made in heaven, tequila and Austin seem to go together, with every restaurant offering their take on the almighty margarita. Can I get an Amen?
So when the choice of where to celebrate comes into play, fear not. Whether you like your rita on the rocks, frozen or up, sweet or spicy, with or without salt, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list sure to please any palate. From the standard to the unusual, we’ve got you covered with Austin’s top five margaritas.
In no particular order, I present to you, “badadadadadada… tequila!”
Best Traditional: Hopdoddy’s Doble Fina Margarita
You know Hopdoddy for its mouth-watering inventive burgers, using the freshest, all-natural ingredients. What you may not know is that the Doble Fina Margarita is one divine drink, matching the quality of the food with its perfect blend of sour meets sweet. With silver tequila, triple sec made in-house, lime juice, and rimmed with black lava salt from Hawaii, the Doble Fina satiates any rita cravings with its refreshingly tart taste.
The homemade triple sec is truly what sets this cocktail apart, made by infusing vodka for two weeks with orange rinds, a little fresh squeezed OJ and simple syrup. “It’s actually very easy to make,” says Hopdoddy co-owner Chuck Smith, whose goal is to use green methods, exemplified in minimizing waste through utilizing rinds. Next time you visit, skip the line and grab a seat at the bar. Priced at $7 a glass, the Doble Fina is the best bang for your buck, as a couple of these may leave you flatlined.
Best Spice: Star Bar’s Habanero Margarita
For the West Sixth crowd, Star Bar is the go-to for sports watching, socializing and nourishment provided on the expansive back patio by the Peached Tortilla food truck. Prepare for your socks to be knocked off with Star Bar's Habanero Margarita, a balanced beverage of spicy, sweet and sour.
Made with Hornitos Reposado, Cointreau, lime, orange slice (without the rind), dash of agave nectar, one slice of jalapeño with the seeds, and habanero lime sauce, this fusion packs a punch with a pop of fiery rounded out by the agave nectar, so as not to overwhelm the palate with spice. With no artificial flavors, the Habanero Margarita ($10) is one for the senses, with a kick that will get you into gear for your National Margarita Day festivities.
Most Smokey: Takoba’s Mezcarrita
Probably my favorite drink in all of Austin, the Mezcarrita cocktail ($7) at Takoba is unlike any drink I’ve ever had. Definitely not your traditional rita, the Mezcarrita is a margarita meets paloma, made with Lajita Mezcal, aperol, lime and grapefruit juice, a splash of simple syrup and a drop of hell fire bitters. Don’t be intimidated by that last ingredient, as this drink is not spicy, rather smoky with hints of wood and baked agave.
If you’ve never tried Mezcal before, the Mezcarrita is your perfect introduction to this different liquor. If you don’t make it to Takoba’s beautiful garden patio on February 22, catch Mezcal+Modelo Mondays, where Mezcal cocktails are offered at half price.
Best Frozen: Maudie’s Frozen Margarita
You can’t beat the frothy $4.75 frozen house margarita (available for $3.50 during Maudie’s happy hour) not only for the price, but also the enjoyably smooth taste. With six different locations, Maudie’s is a Tex-Mex tradition, winning awards for the food as well as the fresh-squeezed margaritas. And that’s exactly why this frozen margarita is so dang delicious — not many places will you find a frozen rita that doesn’t use artificial flavorings and pre-mixes.
Maudie’s will honor National Margarita Day at all locations with the inauguration of the margarita of the year: The Sergeant Pepper — Dulce Vida 100 Blanco (100 proof, 100 percent organic, and it just so happens to be my favorite tequila on the market) — available for $5 a glass. In addition to the frozen, try these stiff treats: Gill’s Margarita, made with Don Julio or the Pura Vida, which uses Milagro Anejo.
Most Unique: Jack Allen’s Kitchen’s Cucumber Jalapeño Rita
February is already heating up in Austin, so cool down with the refreshing taste of cucumber in Jack Allen’s Cucumber Jalapeño Rita ($8). The subtly sweet and savory concoction mixes Ambhar Reposado Tequila, St. Germain, muddled cucumber, fresh jalapeños, simple syrup and fresh lime.
From February 18-22, Jack Allen’s Kitchen will have an all-day happy hour of $1 off selected margaritas, celebrating National Margarita Day (or week in this case). Fiesta the night away with other unique cocktails, such as the Blood Orange Rita, Pomegranate Sage Rita or Watermelon Infused Rita, and prepare to send your taste buds on a ride of indulgent pleasure.
After you've sampled what Austin has to offer, remember to call a cab for a ride home.