When it comes to refreshing alcoholic beverages, few concoctions compete with the margarita. The mojito aside, the margarita is practically the unofficial drink of South Florida, and it's the only cocktail with its own hotel and lifestyle named after it, thanks to Jimmy Buffett.
Of course, Floridians don't need an excuse to relax and sip a cold one. Margaritas are year-round here. Every variation 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.
The Bazaar by José Andrés1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
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 restaurant's margaritas ($14 to $16). A classic cocktail is graced with a touch of salt "air" — a briny foam that makes it seem as if the cocktail were kissed by a mermaid.
Bodega1220 16th St., Miami Beach
Try the Pico Picante ($13), 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.
Gianni's at the Villa1116 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach
At Gianni's at the Villa, go big with the 24 Karat Golden Margarita ($24), prepared using gold-infused El Cartel tequila, Grand Marnier, and fresh orange and lime juices. It's poured over ice and finished with a salt rim and gold flakes.
Living Room at W South Beach2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
The pineapple roast margarita at Living Room starts with homemade roasted pineapple juice that lends a caramelized flavor. Tequila reposado and lime are added. Finally, the shaken elixir is poured into a glass with a chili-pepper rim and garnished with a slice of pineapple.
Makoto9700 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Makoto's grilled pineapple margarita ($14) 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.
Margaritaville1111 N. Ocean Dr., Hollywood
Every day is a perfect day to enjoy a margarita. They abound at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, where they run $8 to $15. Try the classic Booze in the Blender, which comes in a novelty blender for you to keep if you're a die-hard Parrot Head.
Regent Cocktail Club1690 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Regent Cocktail Club's version ($15) is a fresh take on the classic. After a generous pour of tequila, it calls for mint, lime, and bubbles. Add the Regent's dim, classy setting, and you have a sexy, warm experience unlike any other.
SoCal1000 S. Miami Ave., Miami
Barman Leo Holtzman's Gardner's margarita ($11) at SoCal is a gorgeous rose-hued 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.
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TacoCraft Taqueria & Tequila Bar5829 SW 73rd St., South Miami
Life is short: Eat tacos and drink tequila. Well, at least that's what you can do at TacoCraft, which offers more than 150 tequilas and mezcals for your margarita (prices vary). Visit Monday for $5 margaritas.
Taquiza7450 Ocean Ter., Miami Beach
Steve Santana's taqueria also serves some of the best margaritas in town. The cocktails are custom-made with fresh fruit and herbs. A strawberry margarita here contains fresh berries, not purée. A classic margarita starts at $10, but go during happy hour (4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday) and the drinks are half-priced.