New York City

The Absolute Best Margarita in New York

By Mary Jane Weedman

We’ve spent the last two months drinking margarita after margarita (hard life), sampling options both frozen and on the rocks, flavored and purely limy, Cadillac and Tommy’s alike. We had basic criteria — the drink didn’t have to follow a “standard” margarita recipe, but had to use a citrus, probably lime, plus mezcal or tequila (and the bartender had to not correct you that “Actually, tequila is a kind of mezcal”) — but were open to out-there interpretations like the Pool Lounge’s drink that uses cumin syrup and carrot juice alongside tequila and lime. Here, the city’s absolute best margaritas.

The Absolute Best

1. Calabrije’s Margaritas and Tacos
234 Starr St., nr. Wyckoff Ave., Bushwick; 718-484-2110

The context for a margarita is important. They just feel different in a self-serious bar: Maybe it’s perfectly shaken, double-strained over fresh Kold-Draft ice, and uses only the freshest lime juice, squeezed that day. But a margarita should be served in a happy, joyous atmosphere, ideally with tacos, and as the name indicates, Calabrije’s has two of those things in spades. And though it’s not in the name, the atmosphere is great: fun, playful, and exciting, with décor that’s kind of like a tourist’s dream of Mexico — but the bar is run by three friends from Monterrey in Nuevo León. The menu, too, could incite skepticism (there are 21 flavors, more “than the rainbow has colors!”), but don’t doubt the place. The super-friendly bartenders mix up terrific margaritas with fresh lime and agave, served over fresh ice in a pint glass (be careful with a second), with a spicy Tajín rim and a lime wedge. We like the jalapeño, which is spicy and garnished additionally with a slice of fresh pepper. P.S.: On Fridays, all the margaritas cost just seven bucks.

 

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Cover photo: Calabrije’s jalapeño margarita. Photo: Liz Clayman