In South Florida, the margarita has become the cocktail of choice. Whether enjoying one dockside or along the sandy shores at sunset, everyone has a margarita story—and an opinion on how they’re made.
Like most cocktail tales of origin, the margarita is steeped in folklore of varying and diverging paths. Yet all have a common denominator, the ingredients: tequila, an orange liqueur and lemon or lime juice. Since its foggy founding in the 1940s, the margarita has become one of the most popular cocktails in the United States, taking on a life of its own. The drinks come in various shapes, sizes and flavors and are a standard of Cinco de Mayo celebrations. In fact, in 2008 Cheers On-Premise Handbook claimed the margarita was the most “popularly ordered drink … representing 18 percent of all mixed-drink sales in the U.S.” That equates to an average of 185,000 margaritas consumed per hour, 60 percent of which are sold in southern states. For subtropical South Florida, few drinks go hand in hand as well as a freshly prepared margarita.
Although February 22 is the official National Margarita Day, most people consider Cinco de Mayo the real margarita day. To get readers amped, we have compiled a short list of our favorite margarita watering holes on the Gold Coast.
Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar
Two things make Rocco’s Tacos one of the county’s go-to margarita spots: its massive tequila bar and multiple locations that let patrons party like its Cinco de Mayo 365 days a year. The bar offers more than 220 selections, each bottle carrying its own subtleties and distinct properties. Simply put, Rocco’s is Palm Beach’s tequila champs. Naturally, Rocco’s margarita menu hits its mark with a collection of salty, fruity and tart sips. Touching on all the bases, the margaritas run the gamut from traditional to the exotic, with menu items like the Prickly Pearita, the Superfruit Margarita and the Maschmeyer Margarita—some local fanfare. What’s more, Rocco’s makes its own sour mix, giving it an added dose of originality. Depending on the cocktail, Rocco’s margaritas are available by the glass or the pitcher, so come thirsty and with a crowd.
On Cinco de Mayo, all three of Rocco’s Palm Beach County locations (PGA Commons in Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach and Boca Raton) will blow the doors off with live entertainment, drink specials and giveaways, including a Mexican cruise for two. The fiesta begins at noon and continues until the wee hours. roccostacos.com
The newest Mexican restaurant on the block, aptly named The Mexican, brings the flavor and flare of Mexican street food to the table, all while sourcing local ingredients for some South Florida flare. The festive, retro look and feel of the place is one of the most exciting things to come to Boca Raton, and it’s quickly making a name for itself as a go-to place for tequila-laced good times. The tequilas on hand may not be as varied as other eateries, but The Mexican still packs a wallop with more than 40 selections ranging in type and complexity, while the margarita menu comes in an array of flavors and levels of connoisseurship. The standard some is a range of flavors, from the traditional to prickly pear and black currant, among others. For the traditionalist, three varying levels of margarita are available: Excelente, Magnifico and Suprema—each used with ascending grades of tequila.
As for Cinco de Mayo, The Mexican is doing it South of the Border style with an all-day event starting at 11 a.m. and on to the wee hours. Live music by La Linea and DJ LEX will set the mood, while $5 cocktails, $3 cerveza, sangria and tacos will keep everyone tipsy and satiated. themexicanbocaraton.com
Palm Beach Gardens has become somewhat of a hub of South of the Border cuisine with three Mexican restaurants located within a stone’s throw of each other on PGA Boulevard.
Located in Palm Beach Gardens’ Midtown, Cantina Laredo has quickly become a standout of the dining scene, with a vast menu of Mexican goodies and a stellar selection of margaritas on hand. The Casa Rita adheres to the traditional recipe, while the Mango Pepper Rita—made with muddled mango and red peppers—and Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur is a more inventive selection that is nonetheless delicious. For those truly into tequila, or just beginning to appreciate the complexities of the spirit, Cantina holds tequila dinners (the next one will be on June 6, $49.99 per person), where diners enjoy a four-course meal paired with a variety of tequila, both straight up and mixed in cocktails. It’s not just a meal but also a learning experience—the kind of continued education we can truly get behind.
The new patio lounge makes for the perfect backdrop for the Cinco de Mayo festivities, where Jupiter’s own Tease Me Tequila will be on hand with $5 margaritas and a DJ will spin the vinyl for some atmosphere. cantinalaredo.com
Cabo Flats Cantina & Tequila Bar
Down the block at Downtown at the Gardens, Cabo Flats Cantina and Tequila Bar is bringing a decided Tex-Mex flare to the mix. The restaurant/bar has long been a favorite of the North County young professionals for not just serving a great spread but also its extensive bar menu that is heavy on the tequila. When matched with a stable of able mixologists brewing up new recipes and specials on the regular, every day is margarita day at Cabo’s. The Caborita is a tasty frozen margarita with a mini Corona shooter popped in the mix for good measure, while the St. Margarita swaps the orange liqueur for Saint Germaine Elderflower Liqueur. And as any good margarita bar should, Cabo’s makes its own sour mix on premise, the backbone and unsung hero to nearly every margarita served up.
Though Cabo Flats celebrates every fifth of the month like it is May 5, when it comes to the actual Cinco de Mayo festivities, this cantina pulls all the stops. The party begins at 11 a.m., complete with drink and food specials, giveaways and contests. And like all Cinco de Cabo fiestas, costumes are encouraged and welcome, so get in the spirit while sipping on some Mexican spirits. caboflats.com
The backbone of every great margarita is an even better tequila. But this South of the Border spirit has developed quite the reputation and is steeped in misconception. To shine some light on the mystery, we offer a crash course in tequila, to help leave you a more informed drinker who just might be able to impress that know-it-all bar buddy.
Planning your own Cinco de Mayo party? Shake it up with a Florida twist with these recipes from our favorite Sunshine State chef, Justin Timineri.