Booze

The Ten Best Creative Margaritas in Denver Bars and Restaurants

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

click to enlarge The sweet and spicy watermelon jalapeño margarita at Comida. - 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.

click to enlarge Dos Santos makes a unique Violet Coconut Cream margarita for their monthly margarita special. - DOS SANTOS
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.


click to enlarge RosatoRita, an Italian take on the Mexican cocktail. - IL POSTO
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.

click to enlarge The Volcán Daisy margarita from Kachina Cantina downtown. - KACHINA CANTINA
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.

click to enlarge The spicy Fuego Verde margarita at Lola Coastal Mexican. - LINNEA COVINGTON
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.
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Linnea Covington moved back to Denver after spending thirteen years in New York City and couldn't be happier to be home, exploring the Mile High and eating as much as possible, especially when it involves pizza or ice cream.
Contact: Linnea Covington