No detail is too trivial for New York’s Empellón Taqueria, which stocks more than five types of salt just for its margaritas. One specialty salt is spiked with chiles and ground-up maguey; another, infused with ginger, tops off the spiced pear margarita.
“Salt helps to draw out other flavors and balance the tartness of the drink,” explains Peter Vestinos, a Chicago-based cocktail consultant.
America’s best margaritas, recommended by tequila experts and some of the country’s top mixologists, range from spicy to sweet, shaken to frozen. We wanted to toast the classics as well as quirky variations on the standard recipe of tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. What all these margaritas share with Empellón’s is a thoughtful commitment to quality—and complementary—ingredients.
The esteemed margarita at Tommy’s Mexican, a San Francisco institution, substitutes agave nectar (honey water) for triple sec with such success that it’s been replicated by bars across America.
Houston’s Pastry War supplies a bubble tea straw to suck up the whole pomegranate seeds in its frozen margaritas. In New Orleans, Tivoli & Lee draws on local inspiration, adding native hibiscus to its margarita. These versions don’t require limes, an advantage at a time when a lime shortage has been making headlines and raising prices nationwide.
Whether you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo or just the end of the workweek, fill your glass with one of the finest margaritas north of the border.