When it comes to refreshing alcoholic beverages, few concoctions compete with the margarita. The mojito aside, it's practically the unofficial drink of South Florida.
Although downing margaritas all day is not generally good life advice, today is February 22 — National Margarita Day — so everyone in these parts will be enjoying them.
Of course, Floridians don't need an excuse to relax and sip a cold one. The proper margarita begins with a good tequila; then it's up to the bartender to add a touch of flair. Here are the ten best in Miami:
Try the Pico Picante, Bodega's version of a margarita. It's made with Maestro Dobel tequila, Ilegal Joven mezcal, cucumber, cilantro, jalapeño, lime, and orange bitters, and comes garnished with sliced cucumber.
2. The Bazaar by José Andrés and Bazaar Mar
Chef José Andrés loves to play with his food. He adds whimsical touches to his dishes to create memorable bites. It's no wonder, then, that the same care is taken with his restaurants' margarita. A classic cocktail is graced with a touch of salt "air" — a briny foam that makes it seem as if your cocktail were kissed by a mermaid.
3. Gianni's at the VIlla
Go big with this restaurant's 24 Karat Golden Margarita ($24), prepared with gold-infused El Cartel tequila, Grand Marnier, and fresh orange and lime juices. It's poured over ice and finished with a salt rim.
Every day is a perfect day to enjoy a margarita. Even more perfect is that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the debut of Jimmy Buffett’s song "Margaritaville," which was released in 1977 on the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes. Multiple margaritas abound at his Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, but try the classic Booze in the Blender, which comes in its own blender for you to keep if you're a die-hard Parrot Head.
Barman Leo Holtzman's Gardner's margarita ($11) at SoCal (1000 S. Miami Ave., Miami) is a gorgeous rose-colored drink that gets its name (and freshness) from red bell peppers, cucumbers, and serrano chilies. Herradura tequila is used in this perfectly sweet and savory cocktail.
6. Rocco's Tacos & Tequila Bar
How about a margarita that's actually good for you? No, that's not an oxymoron; that's Rocco's Tacos' antioxidant margarita ($11.50). The libation is made with Cedilla açaí liqueur — for a boost of goodness that your body needs to ward off killers such as cancer and heart disease — along with a generous pour of Maestro Dobel.
7. Regent Cocktail Club
Regent Cocktail Club's El Diablo margarita ($14) is a spicy take on the classic. It's made with tequila reposado, crème de cassis, lime juice, and ginger beer for a kick. Add in the Regent's dark, classy setting, and you have a sexy, warm experience unlike any other.
8. TacoCraft Taqueria & Tequila Bar
Life is short: Eat tacos and drink tequila. Well, at least that's what you can do today at TacoCraft (7200 SW 58th Ave., South Miami), where you can choose from more than 150 tequilas and mezcals for your margarita (prices vary). Visit Monday for $5 margaritas.
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Makoto's grilled pineapple margarita ($13) is the perfect complement to the restaurant's Asian flavors. For its margarita, Makoto infuses tequila with grilled pineapple and tinges it with cilantro. A spicy-salty rim seals the deal.
10. Cantina Laredo Modern Mexican
Cantina Laredo at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach offers the Cabo Flip. The concoction — made with fresh lime juice, Cabo Wabo reposado, and Grand Marnier — is served with a lime boat full of tequila. The bar also serves a few new cocktails, including the smoky margarita ($12) — Cantina Laredo's classic margarita with a hint of smoke — and the Oaxacan old-fashioned ($12), made with Del Maguey Vida mezcal, 1800 Añejo tequila, Monin, agave nectar, and Angostura bitters served over a Luxardo cherry-orange ice cube.