If global warming weren’t doing such a thorough job of eliminating winter, having National Margarita Day on Feb. 22 would make more sense. The original purpose of the holiday was to get some vitamin C and summer vibes during the coldest part of the year — not that there’s a bad time to feel closer to a tropical island.
And sure, you could raise a glass of the usual tequila, lime and triple sec, but we found some bars shaking up the usual recipe with their own trendy and creative takes on the margarita.
Known for its tequila and mezcal cocktails, Añejo has fused another Mexican staple into the classic drink for Margarita Day. An ounce and a half of guacamole puree gets swirled with silver tequila, organic agave and a squeeze of lime. “I was thinking of a way to offer a new, special cocktail for National Margarita Day that involved something that paired well with margaritas,” says director of operations James Horn. “Our traditional guacamole and our house margaritas share several of the same main ingredients; cilantro, jalapeño, lime and salt. I just needed to figure out a way to get the avocado element into the glass without making a smoothie or something weird.” The guacamole is the cocktail’s last note, along with a rim of spiced salt and tortilla chips — hopefully to make you crave some of the real thing. 301 Church St., Tribeca; 668 10th Ave., Hell’s Kitchen
“With the changing seasons we also have an opportunity in incorporate flavors that are more appropriate for the time of year,” says Bodega Negra beverage director Drew Sweeney of the clubby Mexican spot at the Dream Downtown. He uses pear puree with an herbal note from rosemary agave syrup. Premium Herradura Blanco lets the agave shine. This marg also skips the traditional salt rim. “I love using salt as a way to add complexity to cocktails, but when we were working on this drink, we agreed that it had enough going on already,” says Sweeney. More sweet news: On the 22nd, all margaritas are two-for-one and pitches are half off. 355 W. 16th St., Chelsea
Big Trouble in Little Jalisco
An unlikely contender for most authentic margarita comes from Clancey, a Lower East Side newcomer that’s sort of an ode to its neighborhood with Jewish, Latin and Asian comfort foods. Named for the birthplace of tequila, Big Trouble in Little Jalisco is a spicy-sweet concoction combining Espolón Reposado Tequila, ancho reyes chili, raspberry, lime, and Mexican mole bitters. Reposado tequila, which is aged in oak barrels for up to a year, brings depth of flavor to this “fruit, smoky riff on a classic margarita,” says mixologist David Uhr. The sweet acidity of raspberry rounds out the smokiness from the ancho chili liqueur, then a note of chocolate from the bitters. 79 Clinton St.
This one will remind you more of something you’d find in Scotland than the Caribbean: using mezcal, simple syrup, Combier triple sec, orange zest and a Laphroaig whisky float. Mixologist Frankie Gabriel at Central Park-adjacent Jams created a play on a drink originally made by Jared DeLine, known for cocktails that hold their own against the intensely flavorful Central Mexican fare at Prospect Heights’ El Atoradero. “When I began to play with the recipe, I wanted to make the drink more symphonic,” with notes that begin in the nose and play across the palate, he says. First to hit is the smoky note in the whisky, followed by the heat of the chipotle salt rim. Then a high note of sweetness from the orange, finished with a bass note from the mezcal. 1414 Sixth Ave.
Spiced Carrot Margarita
They do everything a little differently in the Land Down Under, as you’ll discover at the East Village’s modern Australian bistro Flinders Lane. For their "savory, spicy" take on the margarita, chili-infused Blanco Tequila is mixed with ancho reyes chili liqueur, mezcal, fresh carrot juice, cardamom-infused simple syrup and lime juice. “We like to incorporate fresh juices where we can,” says bar manager Daniel Wyllie. Carrots and cardamom complement each other, he explains, bringing a natural sweetness to balance the heat and the smoky mezcal note to finish the drink. And because the mixology doesn’t stop at the rim, the garnish grinds together dehydrated carrot pulp into salt. Bonus: Download the Hooch app, which gives members a free cocktail every day at a different bar, and try the Spiced Carrot Margarita for free. 162 Ave. A