In honor of National Margarita Day on Feb. 22, a celebration that is oddly in February instead of, like, say, summer but definitely still acceptable. We decided to commemorate the “holiday” by creating a downtown Margarita Crawl so we could a) drink during work and b) self-promote our Margarita Madness event (May 23 at Newport on the Levee). End result is: We drank some margaritas from five different establishments in a row and you can, too.
Stop 1: Bakersfield
Try: The crafty seasonal grapefruit margarita ($10). Traditionally, a margarita is made with tequila, triple sec and lime juice and can be served frozen or on the rocks — generally with a salted rim. From there, you can riff on the blend by adding different fruits or flavors or sugars; whatever you want, really. Bakersfield’s seasonal grapefruit cocktail blends the concept of a Paloma with a margarita, minus the fizz — Olmeca Altos Plata tequila, velvet falernum, agave, bitters, grapefruit and lime. It’s fresh, with a bite, and not super sweet. You can definitely drink more than one.
Or: The off-menu Skinny. It’s like the house margarita but made with fresh lime juice and no simple syrup (to cut the calories). We made it spicy (with jalapeño) for $1 more and did not regret it.
1213 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, bakersfieldtacos.com
Stop 2: Lalo
Try: The Smoky Mezcal Margarita ($8). It is awesome. So awesome. Fave marg of the day. Made with Oaxacan Wahaka mezcal and a house sour mix, it’s served in a salt-rimmed glass and tastes like peaty Scotch and a summer campfire.
Or: The Lalo house margarita: el Jimador Blanco, house sour mix, triple sec and a splash of orange juice, served on the rocks. The addition of orange juice takes it to a real citrus level. Like a mimosa marg. Make it spicy for an extra 50 cents or add real strawberry, peach, mango or raspberry flavoring.
709 Main St., Downtown, lalocincinnati.com
Stop 3: Taqueria Mercado
Try: Can’t go wrong with a classic. Head to the bar and order a "Randal-rita," named after bartender Randal. He makes his marg with agave, fresh-squeezed lime and triple sec. It’s a super solid mix served in a fun cocktail glass with a salted rim. During National Margarita Day, Taqueria Mercado will be making top-shelf drinks with Casamigos tequila (traditional, reposado and anejo) and fresh jalapeño. They also infuse their own jalapeño and pineapple tequilas in house. Fancy.
Or: The Margarita Tower. Hahaha. Ok. This is 101 ounces of margarita in a gigantic tube for $54. It exists, if you need it.
100 E. Eighth St., Downtown, tmercadocincy.com
Stop 4: Nada
Try: The classic Nadarita ($8), an almost dangerously delicious and drinkable mix of el Jimador tequila, house curaçao, agave and fresh lime. The house curaçao takes the craft up a notch with a blend of clove, vanilla, brandy and vodka. Light. Fresh. Pretty — and pretty easy to slug down a few.
Or: A secret Pink Grapefruit Sorbet marg. It's the same base as their Nadarita, but with added pink grapefruit sorbet. It's very interesting and refreshing. And if you aren't a fan of the bitter bite of grapefruit, the sorbet makes it a bit sweeter.
600 Walnut St., Downtown, eatdrinknada.com
Stop 5: Taco Bell Cantina
Try: A twisted Baja Blast freeze ($5.99). Great place to end the crawl. The Taco Bell Cantina is an amped-up version of the late-night fast-food favorite because they serve alcohol. Along with beer and wine, they also have freezes — what are essentially ICEEs — that you can “twist” by adding your choice of vodka, rum or tequila. A twisted Baja Blast tastes like the soda... but what does Baja Blast soda taste like? Teal-ish? Like a melted Popsicle? After Googling “What flavor is Baja Blast?," I learned it's apparently "tropical lime" flavored, whatever that means. But as an icy slush with added alcohol, it’s like an extra-credit Baja Blast. You get some bubbly carbonation flavor, caffeine and a ton of sugar. Also, pairs well with a seven-layer burrito or Crunchwrap Supreme. Also might make you feel like a garbage person who hates their body and health, but in a FUN way.
Or: Eh. We tried the Cantina Margarita blend, twisted with tequila, and did not love it. Stick with Baja Blast. Or try it and see which you prefer. At $5.99 each, it’s basically all-day happy hour at the Cantina.
580 Walnut St., Downtown, tacobell.com
Mita's was not open while we were crawlin' (they open at 5 p.m.) but the Latin-inspired eatery makes an excellent marg — classic, clean and crisp with blanco tequila, triple sec and lime. If you don't want a trad marg, they also have an El Luchador on the cocktail menu, which is a blend of anejo tequila, ginger, citrus, jalapeño and triple sec. It's spicy and a little bit peppery with the ginger.
501 Race St., Downtown, mitas.co