Diving into a margarita is like a trip to the beach without the sand in your suit. In fact, it's the complete opposite of having sand in your suit. Absolutely nothing can shake you when you have a goblet of tequila in your hand. To help you attain this salty satisfaction, we've compiled a short list of must-try margaritas in town — blended, on the rocks, traditional, infused, and ready to add a drop of sunshine to your taste buds.
New Mexican Martini at Chuy's
Green chile-infused blanco tequila
Fresh-squeezed lime juice
Presentation is key for this boozy concoction, but the booze part is pretty essential, too. Though this iconic Chuy's cocktail is served in a martini glass accompanied by a "cute" shaker, it's anything but a froufrou sip. With tequila and Cointreau headlining, each New Mexican weighs in at about one and a half drinks. Its tequila is infused with green chiles grown specially for Chuy's out of Hatch, New Mexico. Once the tequila soaks up that fiery goodness, it's given an orange zest kick with Cointreau and then balanced with simple syrup and fresh-squeezed lime juice. "What makes a New Mexican so different is the flavor profile of the salty and sweet and the acid," says Chuy's bar manager Sharon Balas. "It pretty much has every flavor component that you can have in one drink and that's usually what makes a well-rounded cocktail." 4310 Sharon Road. 704-364-3959. www.chuys.com.
Breakfast Margarita at 1900 Mexican Grill & Tequila Bar
Scorpion Blanco Mezcal
It's 5 o'clock (in the morning) somewhere. Substituting coffee for Mezcal ... why haven't we thought of this before? Thanks to the smoky flavor of Mezcal, you'll be in for a unique treat with this breakfast drink of champions. While you retox, detox with classic morning-time essentials like vitamin-filled grapefruit juice and sweet orange marmalade. Just be careful that your good morning doesn't turn into a good night. 1523 Elizabeth Ave. 704-334-4677. 5110-1E Park Road. 704-523-1554. www.1900mexicangrill.com.
Mexican Samurai at Pisces Sushi
Milagro Reposado tequila
Lime wedges (muddled)
Orange wedge (muddled)
Who says you have to venture into a typical locale to enjoy the salty/sweet sensation of a margarita? Bob Peters of Pisces Sushi may have an encyclopedic command of eclectic, Asian-inspired cocktail recipes, but he's no stranger to the margarita. His deconstructed margarita is free of sour mix and other extras, using a few simple ingredients to craft an ultra-refreshing margarita that you'll want to drink all summer long. "The Mexican Samurai is what I think a margarita should taste like," says Peters. "It's kind of a minimalist approach to a margarita. No frills — just super-fresh fruit. When you taste it, you'll understand." 1100 Metropolitan Ave. 704-334-0009. www.piscessushi.com.
La Perfecta at La Paz
1800 Reposado tequila
Fresh lime juice
The name says it all. A classic margarita is great, but one with Grand Marnier is perfect. If you happen to like your drinks with a kick, this one should do it for you. The best part is, the La Perfecta offers such easy drinking, you'll barely recognize the liquor. "I've been making margaritas for 10 years and the La Perfecta is by far my favorite," admits La Paz bar manager Trace Manning. "Margaritas are meant to be refreshing, and this one couldn't be any more." Refreshing and potent? You're speaking our language. 1100 Metropolitan Ave. 704-332-6322. www.lapazcharlotte.com.