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Forget your basic drink: Try a unique margarita this spring.EXPAND
Forget your basic drink: Try a unique margarita this spring.
Linnea Covington

The Ten Best Creative Margaritas in Denver Bars and Restaurants

Margarita weather has arrived and Cinco de Mayo is nearly upon us, giving bartenders a great reason to spruce up the tangy cantina classic. Yes, the original cocktail of tequila, lime, triple sec and salt already seems like a perfect way to wet your whistle, but what if you dosed your drink with a bit of mint and lemon instead of lime? How about a tiki variation spiked with coconut?

Here are the town's ten best creative takes on the traditional margarita (in alphabetical order) from Denver's  mixology magicians.

The sweet and spicy watermelon jalapeño margarita at Comida.
The sweet and spicy watermelon jalapeño margarita at Comida.
Comida

Watermelon Jalapeño Margarita

Comida Cantina
2501 Dallas Street, Aurora
303-484-1632


At $10 for a tall pour or $35 for a shareable jar, the watermelon jalapeño margarita at Comida seems like a steal. And unlike so many giant margaritas, this one is well balanced and boozy, rather than overpowered by tequila or too syrupy from premade mix. Each batch starts with house-infused jalapeño tequila to which fresh watermelon juice, agave nectar and lime are added. The spicy-sweet combo makes this margarita one to remember, especially if you're enjoying a platter of tacos with your drinks.

Dos Santos makes a unique Violet Coconut Cream margarita for their monthly margarita special.
Dos Santos makes a unique Violet Coconut Cream margarita for their monthly margarita special.
Dos Santos

Margarita of the Month

Dos Santos Taqueria
1475 East 17th Avenue
303-386-3509


Every month, Dos Santos creates a new margarita with bright colors and innovative flavors. In February it was a romantic strawberry champagne marg; for the rest of April, the bar shook up a violet coconut-cream margarita. This unique tipple combined tequila blanco, violet liqueur, Cointreau, cream of coconut and lime juice for a tiki-meets-Mexico combo that's both thirst-quenching and satisfying — think tropical, festive and addictive. May will see a pomegranate mint margarita, a fruity, refreshing and tart cocktail perfect for Cinco de Mayo and beyond.

RosatoRita, an Italian take on the Mexican cocktail.EXPAND
RosatoRita, an Italian take on the Mexican cocktail.
Il Posto

RosatoRita

Il Posto
2601 Larimer Street
303-394-0100


Life is rosy at Il Posto, thanks to barman Adam Gamboa's RosatoRita cocktail. This margarita bends all the rules, putting rosewater, lavender bitters and Montanaro grappa from Italy in the drink, and serving it with a honey, sea salt and pink peppercorn rim. There's tequila, too, of course, the lovely Codigo 1530 Blanco, which uses mature agave at least seven years old. The cocktail's Mexican origins are still apparent in the floral, pink concoction, even if there's a little Italy thrown in. And like the drink itself, our world takes on a pleasing rosy hue after a few sips.

The Volcán Daisy margarita from Kachina Cantina downtown.EXPAND
The Volcán Daisy margarita from Kachina Cantina downtown.
Kachina Cantina

Volcán Daisy

Kachina Cantina
1890 Wazee Street
720-460-2728


Kachina's Volcán Daisy is just different enough from a standard margarita to attract thrill-seekers without turning off traditionalists. Made with Volcán de Mi Tierra tequila (grown in the volcanic soils of Jalisco), yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice and simple syrup, this anise-tinged cocktail proves a little sweet and a little cooling while packing a hefty punch of booze. Since Chartreuse is not to everyone's liking, Kachina also mixes a prickly pear margarita and serves bottomless house margs for brunch every weekend.

The spicy Fuego Verde margarita at Lola Coastal Mexican.EXPAND
The spicy Fuego Verde margarita at Lola Coastal Mexican.
Linnea Covington

Fuego Verde


Lola Coastal Mexican
1575 Boulder Street
720-570-8686


If you're seeking a funky margarita with a smooth dose of heat, the Fuego Verde at Lola Coastal Mexican will satisfy most pepperheads. This bright-green drink mixes Corazón Blanco tequila, a whole jalapeño, a handful of fresh cilantro and lime juice, with a touch of agave nectar to sweeten it up. Saccharine it's not; instead, the refreshing, herbaceous cocktail balances sweet and sour with the spice of the liquor and capsicum. The presence of hot peppers may be a little intimidating at first, but this margarita goes down easy, particularly when accompanied by guacamole and chips.

Sayulita Margarita

Machete Tequila + Tacos
2817 East Third Avenue, 303-333-1567
1730 Wynkoop Street, 720-612-7698
3570 East Colfax Avenue, 303-593-1525


Cucumber makes the specialty margaritas cool at Machete's three Denver locations. The refreshing blend, named after a Pacific-coast beach town near Puerto Vallarta, boasts Casamigos silver tequila, orange and lime juice, fresh habanero, agave and muddled cucumber. A chile-salt blend hugs the rim of the glass, making it a light, spicy and addictive cocktail. Pair it with a platter of traditional Mexico City-style tacos to make it the best taco Tuesday ever.

The Tarantula margarita from Masa.EXPAND
The Tarantula margarita from Masa.
Rachel Adams

The Tarantula

Masa Cocina Mexicana
8181 Arista Place, Broomfield
303-820-2600


This bright margarita at Kevin and Ryan Taylor's Broomfield eatery bursts with tartness from hibiscus agua fresca, cools with a dash of Chareau Aloe liqueur from California, and punches above its weight with a hearty dose of Fidencio Clásico Mezcal, distilled from organic, biodynamic agave from Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca. Light on the nose but heavy in taste, the mezcal holds its own against the other bold flavors. Don't recoil at the creepy, crawly spider perched on the edge of your glass; it's just a candied hibiscus flower that you can crunch on to counter the spicy rim of sal de chapulín (made with real grasshoppers!).

The Añejo Smash margarita from Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant.EXPAND
The Añejo Smash margarita from Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant.
Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant

Añejo Smash

Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant
1525 Blake Street, 303-623-5432
9535 Park Meadows Drive, Lone Tree, 303-799-4999
1101 Walnut Street, Boulder, 303-444-3690


Switching from the infamous Rio Grande house margarita seems almost like heresy, but the Añejo Smash doesn't stray far from its source, swapping in fresh-squeezed lemon juice for the house margarita mix and adding a touch of cooling mint. For the Añejo Smash, the bartenders use añejo tequila from Gran Centenario, a distillery that's been making small-batch spirits since 1857. The result is a rich, tingly and happy combination that really showcases how aged tequila should be used in a cocktail.

The spicy mango margarita at Tamayo.
The spicy mango margarita at Tamayo.
Channing Broderick

Spicy Mango

Tamayo
1400 Larimer Street
720-946-1433


When done right, spicy margaritas balance the warming and cooling elements of chiles and lime. And Tamayo gets the balance absolutely right in its fresh, spicy, sweet and sneakily boozy Spicy Mango. The bar infuses tequila with serrano chiles, then stirs in fresh citrus juices and mango purée before pouring the mixture into a glass rimmed with Tajín Clásico, a seasoning blend of lime, chile and salt. The drink goes great with bacon-laced guacamole and chef Oscar Padilla's traditional tacos.

Smoky blackberry margarita at ViewHouse.EXPAND
Smoky blackberry margarita at ViewHouse.
ViewHouse

Smoky Blackberry Margarita

ViewHouse
2015 Market Street, 720-878-2015
7101 South Clinton Street, Centennial, 303-790-8440
2680 West Main Street, Littleton, 303-797-4829


Sweet, tart, smoky, spicy and boozy: The Smoky Blackberry Margarita at ViewHouse hits you with all of these at once. Tanteo Chipotle Tequila, infused with smoked chiles from Chihuahua, forms the base of this cocktail, with lime juice, blackberries and agave nectar rounding things out. Enjoy a sip or two on the patio at any of the three metro ViewHouse locations; pair your drink with blue-crab enchiladas or a jalapeño-packed burger for a memorable feast.

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