The sun is shining, you’ve signed off email for the day, and all signs point to margarita o’clock. Just like New Yorkers, the most mouthwatering margaritas in Manhattan (and beyond) show off the diversity of this thirsty city, adding spice, funk, and sparkle to the classic citrus and tequila cocktail. New York’s best bars are finding new ways to shake up the tried-and-true recipe, with flavorful add-ons (think guava, green chiles, and hibiscus) to premium liqueurs like Grand Marnier. From taco-inspired to dessert-inspired to just upgraded classic margaritas, here’s where you’ll find New York City’s freshest takes on the margarita.Read More
Where to Find New York City’s Most Unique Margaritas
Boulton & Watt
Sip on a tequila-forward marg with as much flavor as the neighborhood it was created in. Boulton & Watt’s Spicy East Village margarita is made with Fortaleza, Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, and, for some heat, Ancho Reyes liqueur, made with ancho and poblano chiles. Add a side of guacamole and chips and you’ve concocted the perfect after-work relaxation recipe. With wide windows overlooking the intersection of 1st Street and Avenue A, you’re sure to slurp up some excellent people-watching as you down a few of these tongue-tickling cocktails. Stop in on weekdays from noon to 7 p.m. when cocktails (typically $13) are $9 for happy hour.
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The Beatrice Inn
Of course this elegant steakhouse ups the tequila ante with its margarita, and yes, it’s bubbly. The Beatrice Inn’s sparkling margarita tops blanco tequila, Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, agave, and lime juice with Champagne, all served with a lava salt rim to heighten the drama. Pro tip: You can only order the restaurant’s famed fried chicken ($15) at the bar, so drink up an appetite.
Look no further than Koreatown for a fusion-style margarita that will keep you curious about the limits of margarita making. This gastropub serves a mean kimchi-rita, made with Espolón Reposado, Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, pineapple coriander allspice syrup, lime juice, and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt. Served up with a rim of dehydrated kimchi, you’ll wonder why you’ve settled for salted rims for so long.
Recent grads and young professional congregate at this tropical themed bar, which merges Jamaican island vibes with Manhattanites’ tastes. Drinks are two-for-one before 8 p.m. (another reason first salary earners pack the place before 8), and while frozen slushies and fruit-forward cocktails served in coconuts abound, the real star of the menu is the Southern Heat, a spicy yet refreshing top-shelf margarita rendition made with Espolón Blanco, Grand Marnier, lime juice, simple syrup, a splash of Ancho Reyes, and slices of jalapeño and cucumber so you get some veggies alongside your booze.
Dear Irving on Hudson
Mixologist Meaghan Dorman has created the perfectly balanced, feel-good margarita with her Murphy margarita. The combination of Reposado Tequila, Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, and pineapple juice, plus lime and salt is enough to mentally transport you to a sunny, happy place, regardless of when or where you’re sipping.
This modern Mexican restaurant is dedicated to blending the traditional and contemporary, importing ingredients directly from Mexico, like chapulines, or Oaxacan grasshoppers. The traditional margarita gets a VIP upgrade here, with a Cadillac rendition made with Espolón Blanco, Grand Marnier, and just enough lime juice for a zing. The signature hormiga negra guacamole — with avocado, tomato, cilantro, green apple, sesame seeds, and black ant salt — is a nice chaser.
Lovers of porky al pastor tacos will enjoy mixologist Jim Kearn’s al pastor margarita, which mimics the flavors of the beloved slow-cooked meat, but in pig-free liquid form. Espolón Blanco, Grand Marnier, green chile vodka, Ancho Verde, cilantro, and pineapple and lime juices blend to recreate the savory-sweet tartness of a sippable al pastor taco.
El Vez and Burrito Bar
Tucked between the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan, El Vez offers a low-key, humble space to unwind and chill out, particularly with a hot pink hibiscus margarita, with Espolón Blanco, yellow chartreuse, hibiscus, and a smattering of white pepper to perk you up. The option to build your own burrito allows you full gastronomic creativity, but leave the mixology to the pros.
Mixologist Mikey Diehl has concocted a dessert-inspired margarita that’s totally fine to enjoy before (and after and with, really) dinner. The tres leches margarita is a clarified milk punch mixed with Espolón Blanco, Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, and lime. Visit on Mondays for all-night $7 happy hour cocktails, or between 4–7 p.m. every other night (besides Saturday) for the same deal.
Fresh Kills Bar
Mixologist Lauren McLaughlin brings a smoky margarita to this cozy bar dedicated to craft cocktails. The Bosforo Fix subs tequila for mezcal, and mixes in Grand Marnier, fresh lemon and lime, salt, and Aztec bitters for a tangy twist on a traditional marg.
Adjacent to New York Distilling Company, this industrial-yet-homey (it’s Brooklyn!) bar serves a serious margarita. Marissa Mazzotta’s so-called Bebida! combines Espolón Anejo, Grand Marnier, Aperol, and lime with a spiced rim for a bitter but balanced tequila cocktail. Visit on weekends for complimentary distillery tours (2:30, 3:30, and 5:00 p.m.).
Fools Gold NYC
Though this downtown bar defines itself with craft beer and whiskey, mixologist Lindsey Ronchi serves a mean margarita. The Honey Pear margarita, shaken with Espolón Blanco, Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, honey syrup, and pear juice adds just the right amount of sweetness to a traditionally tart drink, contrasting with the bar’s more rugged vibe in just the right way.
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The trip eastward into Alphabet City is worth it for a night at this upscale Mexican restaurant encompassing plenty of personality, from the bright red walls to the equally colorful menu. The upgraded margarita, the Cadillac, combines Corralejo Reposado, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice, and orange juice for a refreshing booze-forward drink perhaps best enjoyed on the outdoor patio on a hot day — and always with a basket of tortillas and guacamole on the side.