Frosty margaritas soothe in sweltering summer heat

Mary Lingwall

I love margaritas. I could dedicate, and have dedicated, entire afternoons to appreciating well-crafted goblets of tequila, triple sec and lime. But there’s nothing worse than craving a margarita only to end up with a watered-down cup of lime juice that costs too much. So, I embarked on a quest to find the best, or at least my favorite, margaritas in Austin. I have a feeling you can trust my seasoned judgment.
Whether you’re drinking in your own favorite Tex-Mex restaurant or at home, remember to love your margaritas as much as I do— and they’ll love you back.

A strip-center oasis
Because of its location in The Triangle, I wasn’t very excited to go to Sago for the first time. But, once I stepped into the restaurant and out of the concrete strip center, I realized that Sago could easily become part of my weekly routine. And this is why: On any given afternoon, I can get a huge margarita for around $3. In true Texas style, if you order a “margarita,” Sago will serve your drink in a 16 oz. glass, and the standard 8 oz. versions are diminutively titled “minis.”
Also, I don’t usually prefer frozen margaritas, but both the organic blackberry and blue curacao frozen margaritas are flavorful without being sour or overly sweet.

Handcrafted concoctions
Vivo was by far the high point of my margarita tour of Austin. I tried Vivo’s paloma, prickly pear and cucumber margaritas, and each one had a special flare that made the drink distinct. Instead of adding a syrup to the house margarita mix as most restaurants do, Vivo handcrafts its specialty drinks with fresh ingredients. My favorite Vivo margarita is the paloma, a subtle mix of Cazadores Reposado tequila, lime juice and a splash of grapefruit juice. Especially delicious when served straight up, the paloma is a refreshing take on the typical margarita. Similarly, Vivo’s cucumber margarita is a smoother version of the house original, made cooler with bits of fresh cucumber. The cucumber margarita on the rocks is the perfect remedy for the summer heat.

Do try this at home
Other keystone Tex-Mex restaurants such as Trudy’s, El Chile Cafe y Cantina and Chuy’s all have fine margarita selections that deserve mention, but if you’re tired of leaving home for a top-shelf margarita, my cousins Mike and Marshal have a recipe that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with anything you order from a waiter. The recipe is easy: three parts tequila, one part triple sec, a little less than two parts fresh lime juice, one part simple syrup and one part orange juice (optional). The most important ingredient is the lime juice, so Mike and Marshal suggest using key limes because they tend to be much juicier.