The margarita is a conundrum, indeed. On the one hand, the Mexican cocktail, is a lesson in simplicity. On the other, it's the one drink that's most likely to go wrong when you order it.
Consider this little conversation we recently had at a very nice restaurant:
Bartender: What would you like to drink?
Short Order: Hmmmm... maybe a margarita? Do you make it with a mix?
Bartender: Of course.
Short Order: Then, can I see your beer list?
For some reason, most margaritas, though having only a few ingredients, are made with unholy, chemical-and-corn-syrup-laden, anti-freeze-colored mix. And they taste like crap.
That's why we are so pleased with Mercadito Midtown's custom margaritas, available all summer long. Each margarita starts out as a classic, made with tequila Revolucion Blanco, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice and organic agave nectar ($10.50). With a salt rim, you could stop there and enjoy one of the best margaritas we've had in a while.
But, as bartender Cristian Rolon suggests, why stop at one, especially when Mercadito's custom margaritas are so enticing? Starting at the classic margarita, the custom allows you to build your own fruity, or spicy, or savory cocktail. Fresh tropical fruits and berries like pineapple, mango, guava, strawberry, or blueberries can be added for $1.50; or try cucumber ($1.50) for a cool, fresh and unique flavor.
If you like spice in your world, habanero and jalapeño peppers can be added for free. For a smoky flavor, try some mezcal in your margarita ($3). Mercadito has 50 types of tequila, ranging from blancos to repasodos to anejos for you to substitute in your margarita. Of course, there is no margarita without salt, and Mercadito custom blends different salts to go with their margaritas including spicy, pepper, and hibiscus.
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Can't decide? Rolon and his fellow bartenders and servers will ask you questions and suggest a fantastic margarita shaken just for you. In fact, after a few seconds of feeling us out, Rolon came back with a strawberry/jalapeño margarita made with a premium reposado that was "just what we wanted."
If you prefer a tequila cocktail, there are about a half dozen to choose from, all created by Paul Tanguay and Tad Carducci of Tippling Bros. Cocktails range from $10.50 - $13 and up (depending on the tequila you choose). The Misty's Sleeve ($12) features hibiscus, tequila blanco, ginger, valencia orange, and chile serrano. It's rimmed with hibiscus salt.