Here's Looking at You, Chica: Arizona’s Top Margaritas

By: Edie Jarolim

Print This Page

June 30, 2011

There's nothing like a cool margarita to top off a warm afternoon or complement Southwestern fare. Here are some of our favorites from restaurants across Arizona.

About the author

Edie Jarolim

Edie Jarolim

Edie Jarolim is the author of three travel guides, including "Arizona for Dummies," and one dog guide, Am I Boring My Dog? Her latest book, "Getting Naked for Money: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All," is a memoir about her career as a guidebook editor for Frommer’s, Rough Guides, and Fodor’s and as a Tucson-based freelance travel writer. Her articles about Arizona have appeared in numerous national publications, including "National Geographic Traveler," "Sunset," and "The Wall Street Journal." She is the Contributing Dining Editor of "Tucson Guide" and often writes about food for "Edible Baja Arizona."

If Arizona had a state cocktail, it would have to be the margarita, the tangy salt-rimmed drink that originated...well, no one is quite sure when or where. The 1940s and the Acapulco home of socialite Margarita Sames are top candidates, but there are nearly as many versions of the margarita’s origin as there are recipes for the drink.

I sipped my way through the state for this list of notables and their recipes. It was tough to choose only four margaritas for top honors in the state; there were many, many great contenders. My picks are based not only on taste (although that was foremost), but also on the sipping atmosphere. Salud!

For a complete run-down of the options, as well as lots of fascinating tequila lore, see: ¡Toma! Margaritas! The Original Guide to Margaritas and Tequila by Robert Plotkin and Ray Flores (Flores is the owner/operator of El Charro Cafe in Tucson).

Bottoms Up: Four Unforgettable Arizona Margaritas

[Note: Brands of tequila and other ingredients were specified by some, but not all, of the recipe providers. Unless otherwise noted, these drinks are to be served on the rocks, and in classic margarita glasses rimmed with kosher salt.]

To create simple syrup: Bring water to a boil, add sugar, let cool. The proportions are traditionally 2:1, that is, for every cup of water, add a 1/2 cup of sugar.

The “Real” Margarita: Dos Silos, Tubac Golf Resort, Tubac

Mexico City-native Abel Garcia, chef/owner of Dos Silos, once created the “World’s Largest Margarita” – 1,200 gallons! – for the opening of a restaurant in El Paso. The classic that he created for this creative Mexican eatery isn’t nearly as large, but it still packs a wallop. The idyllic setting, on former Spanish land flanking the Santa Cruz River, adds to the mellowing effect.

The “Real” Margarita

  • 1½ oz Zapopan reposado tequila
  • ½ oz fresh lime juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • ¾ oz DeKuyper triple sec

 

The Huckleberry Rita: Roaring Fork, Scottsdale

Nothing says happy hour like a frozen margarita, and the berry, berry good one at this watering hole for urban cowboys and cowgirls is a definite after-work – and after-play – crowd pleaser (caveat: it goes down extremely smoothly; remember to sip slowly). Grab a stool at the “saloon” or settle into a white-clothed table in the restaurant; both share a Southwest flair in food and drink.

The Huckleberry Rita

  • Ice (enough to fill blender)
  • 2 1/2 oz silver tequila
  • 1 1/4 oz triple sec
  • 3 oz frozen limeade (do not dilute)
  • juice of one fresh lime

Blend until smooth but thick. Put mix into a 10-oz ice cream cone-shaped glass. Squeeze ¾ oz “Huckleberry Magic” puree into the center of the glass.

Huckleberry Magic Puree

Cook 16 oz huckleberries, ½ cup sugar, 2 cups water together until they are soft. Put into a squeeze bottle. [Note: If you do not have access to huckleberries, substitute blueberries.]

The 24K Margarita: La Hacienda, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

What would you expect from a restaurant showered with diamonds – four of them from AAA, making La Hacienda one of only two Mexican restaurants in the U.S. thus honored – but a margarita that contains gold? This is a super-premium experience in every way: the family hacienda-style atmosphere; the excellent Mexican regional fare; and, of course, the top-shelf tequila.

The 24K Margarita

  • 1 ½ oz Patron silver tequila
  • 1 ½ oz Patron platinum tequila
  • ¾ oz Cent Cinquantenaire (150th anniversary) Grand Marnier
  • 1 ½ oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 ½ oz simple syrup
  • 1/3 cup of ice

Salt the rim of a large martini glass with 1/2 regular kosher salt and 1/2 gold kosher salt (kosher salt mixed with gold dust, which can be purchased at a bakery supply shop). Shake all ingredients and pour into the glass. Garnish with genuine gold leaves (also available at bakery supply shops) and gold dust. Serve with wedge of fresh cut lime.

The Prickly Presidente: The Cowboy Club, Sedona

Cowboy artists and Western movie stars used to frequent this Sedona institution (opened in 1946) when it was called the Oak Creek Tavern. The original bar and its more upscale adjunct, the Silver Spur dining room, remain a premier place for locals and visitors to kick back and relax with appetizers like cactus fries, such entrees as bone-in ribeye steak – and of course, great margaritas.

The Prickly Presidente

  • ½ oz Jose Cuervo La Familia tequila
  • ½ oz Centenaire (100th anniversary) Grand Marnier
  • ½ oz Cointreau
  • ½ oz Cahill prickly pear syrup
  • ½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 oz sweet and sour mix

(Updated by the Arizona Office of Tourism - 2009)

Similar Articles

  • Native Cuisine in Arizona

    by Teresa Bitler

  • Experience More at Arizona Resorts

    by Nora Burba Trulsson

  • 10 Fun Facts About Arizona

    by Arizona Office of Tourism

  • Yuma’s Tunes & Tacos Festival

    by Arizona Office of Tourism

  • Mexican Food & More in Tucson

    by Arizona Office of Tourism

  • Legendary Cuisine

    by Roger Naylor

  • Follow the Food Trails of Arizona

    by Elena Acoba

  • 12 white-hot chefs and restaurants to check out in Arizona NOW

    by Wynter Holden

  • Mom and Pop Eateries

    by Roger Naylor

  • 12 Food Experiences to Have in Arizona Before You Die

    by Wynter Holden