With summer fast approaching, not only does the weather change but our cocktail cravings change with it. Gone are the days of hot apple cider and whiskey, it's time to bring on the frosty cold drinks of summer.
We're lucky enough to live in a city where pretty much any cocktail craving you have can be satiated by the plethora of bars and cocktail lounges we have available. Still, the one drink synonymous in my mind with summer is the margarita. I'm no Jimmy Buffet, but I will be taking many trips to Margaritaville this summer and went out on a mission to find out what our fair city had to offer.
Please keep in mind, to fit print space — and save my liver — my scope kept to the city limits. If you have a favorite place that makes a killer 'rita, leave it in the comments at Rochestercitynewspaper.com. Now on to the bigger questions in life: Salt or no salt? Up or on the rocks?
When you want to find a place that has great margaritas in the city, everyone will tell you to visit Salena's (302 N. Goodman Street, in Village Gate). Salena's has an impressive selection of tequila to choose from and you can have any of those made into the margarita of your choice. The house margarita ($7) is a solid choice, and made from a secret recipe. However, if you want to make things interesting, I would go with the Cadillac ($8), made with Grand Marnier. That hint of orange from the Grand Marnier really makes a tasty difference. Salena's also offers margaritas made with fresh fruit purees. The Blood Orange is not too sweet and definitely summer-worthy. My guilty pleasure of the night? The Coronarita ($7), half a pint glass of the house frozen margarita with a 7-ounce Coronita flipped upside down in the middle of it. In my opinion, Corona is only good when it's really cold with a lime and this cocktail achieves just that.
This was my first trip to Dorado (690 Park Avenue) for margaritas and it will not be my last. The Coconut Margarita ($9) is made with coconut tequila, coconut cream, triple sec and lime and it tastes like a dangerously delicious combination of a piña colada and a margarita ... I had two, I couldn't help myself. Dorado also offers a fresh fruit margarita ($8), this time made with a strawberry compote. The star of the show in terms of drinkability and tastiness, however, was the El Dorado ($11). Made with Patron Silver, Patron Citronage, Guava, Cava and lime, it had a really interesting flavor profile. The cava (a Spanish sparkling wine) made it light and refreshing and the guava gave it just enough sweetness. Dorado also has a house margarita ($7) and Cadillac ($10), as well an extensive cocktail menu in case you're not a tequila fan.
Do you have $12 burning a hole in your pocket and a need to play fast and loose with your liver? If so, Monte Alban Mexican Grill (845 E. Ridge Road, and locations in Webster and Penfield) has a 27-ounce house margarita. The margarita also comes in a normal 12 ounce size ($5.99), but why stop there? For those trying to squeeze into their bathing suit from last year, they do offer a Skinny margarita ($8.99) made with tequila of your choice, fresh-squeezed orange and lime juice, and blue agave nectar. The Marga-Rona ($10.99) is made with 16 ounces of Monte Alban's house margarita (not frozen) with the Coronita flipped upside down in the middle. My new philosophy for this summer? If there isn't a beer flipped upside down in my cocktail, I'm not interested. If tequila isn't your thing, Monte Alban has an assortment of beer cocktails, mojitos, and mixed drinks to choose from.
Tucked in the corner of the plaza across from South Town on Jefferson Road, you will find Mariachi Mexican Grill (400 West Jefferson Road). At first menu glance, it looked as if the margaritas only came in jumbo ($10.25) and monster ($14) sizes. After having a pep talk about what was about to happen, I noticed that they do indeed come in small ($5) and medium ($8.50) sizes. Mariachi has a solid selection of tequilas to choose from, in fact the first thing you see on the menu is "Tequila Shots!" written across the top. Mariachi knows how to party. It also offers a frozen strawberry margarita which you can get by the glass ($5.25 for 10 ounces) or pitcher ($18).
Keven Atoms at Lux Lounge (666 South Avenue) makes a killer margarita. You can usually find Keven there on Thursdays for happy hour and Friday nights.
Mex Bar and Restaurant (295 Alexander Street) has been a great Rochester stand-by to enjoy a frozen or on-the-rocks margarita, sit on the patio and people-watch.
Maria's Mexican Restaurant in Webster (75 W. Main Street) has a house-made, secret recipe that is great and worth the trip out to the suburbs.