photo: Melissa Fitzgerald

Tequila is no longer only associated with the familiar “salt, shoot, lime, wince, repeat” method of imbibing.  While the margarita has long been a go-to tequila favorite, Downtown’s sultans of cocktail crafting have been hard at work creating new twists on the classic drink.  Check out our sampling of Downtown margarita hot spots sure to quench your thirst and excite your taste buds. Salud!

El Big Bad
419 Travis
Happy hour: 7 days a week, 4 pm-7 pm | $5 house margaritas
Located in Historic Market Square, El Big Bad specializes in handcrafted infused tequilas, fresh juice margaritas and Mexican fare. EBB encourages patrons to play mad scientist and choose from 70+ infusions to mix and match – like red beet and vanilla or pineapple hibiscus – making a totally custom and unique margarita! Infusions are ever-changing and are often inspired by the seasons. This fluidity means you could visit every day for a year and still not have the same margarita twice. Challenge extended!

Featured margarita: Blueberry Jalapeno Cilantro Margarita
Featured ingredient: Fresh blueberries

To be made in a 10-ounce glass
2 ounces 100 percent blue agave silver tequila
1 tablespoon fresh blueberries, muddled in glass
A couple of slices of fresh jalapeno, muddled in glass
2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice
Agave nectar to taste
15 vigorous shakes in a shaker with ice
Pour over ice and top with sprig of slapped fresh cilantro 

The Pastry War
310 Main
Happy hour: Weekdays, 4 pm-6:30 pm | $5 house margaritas, free games of pool 

The Pastry War does not serve pastries. And the only warring you’ll experience will be the one in your head while deciding which of their more than 75 agave spirits will be most delicious. To this we say, good luck. The incredible house margarita features a blend of key limes and Persian limes. And any of the menu’s agave spirits can be made into a margarita for an additional $3.

Featured margarita: Mezcal & Green Chartreuse Margarita
Featured ingredient: green chartreuse

1 ½ ounces Del Maguey Vida
¾ ounce green chartreuse
¾ ounce Persian and key lime juice
½ ounce agave nectar
Shake and strain into a rocks glass. Top with crushed ice.
Garnish with a lime wheel and mint sprig

Guadalajara del Centro
GreenStreet, 1201 San Jacinto
Happy hour: Monday-Friday 3 pm-6:30 pm
New and exciting things are happening at GreenStreet and inside Guadalajara del Centro is no different. The restaurant has made it their goal to change the perception of tequila through infused margaritas and various tequila cocktails. GDC offers delicious takes on the classic house margarita with infusions such as: apple cinnamon, strawberry and cherry.

Featured margarita: Prickly Pear Sparkler
Featured ingredient: prickly pear

1 ¼ ounces Sauza Silver tequila
½ ounce Cointreau
2 ounces prickly pear puree
3 ounces Topochico mineral water
Splash of fresh lime juice

Irma’s Restaurant
22 N. Chenevert
No happy hour | $10.50-$12.50 margaritas, $45 pitcher (serves 7)
Irma’s is a favorite lunch spot among downtowners and visitors alike. But Irma’s famous lemonade mixed in the margaritas keeps people coming back at night! The lemonade and other mixings are made fresh daily, with all margaritas handcrafted to order. And the cozy, relaxed atmosphere is always a warm respite after a long day. “Being at Irma’s is just like being at your mom’s or grandma’s house,” says Monica Galvan, manager and daughter to Irma, the restaurant’s namesake. “We have no set menu, the specials change and are prepared fresh every day, just like it would be at home.” While Irma’s typically only serves dinner three nights a week, they keep their doors open until 7 p.m. on Astros game nights to feed the hungry fans. After 23 years in business, it’s no secret that Houstonians love Irma’s. But be sure to check the wall of autographed photographs to see all the visiting celebrities who love Irma’s too!

Featured margarita: Irmarita
Featured ingredient: Irma’s homemade lemonade

1 ounce Don Julio
1 ounce Cointreau
2 ounces of Irma’s homemade lemonade
1 ounce of Grand Marnier
Topped with fresh lime and fresh fruit

Last Concert Café
1403 Nance
Happy hour: Mon 5 pm-12 am, Tue-Fri 5 pm-7 pm | $4 margaritas, live music
History, quirk, music and a generous helping of color are all ingredients in the long-standing success of this Houston institution. Last Concert Café has been serving up their margaritas with a sangria swirl for more than 25 years. Owner Dawn Fudge developed her super secret sangria recipe when she took over management of the restaurant and has been serving them up ever since. Monday nights boast the happiest happy hour ever with a start at 5 pm and an end time of never. Just kidding, it ends at 12 am – they have to go home sometime! Patrons of the restaurant can sip their margaritas with a side of live music every night of the week, with each evening featuring a different offering of ear candy. Entertainment ranges from open mic night to major touring bands to a Sunday brunch jam session with newbies and veterans composing music together.     

Featured margarita: Frozen House Margarita with Sangria Swirl
Featured ingredient: sangria

Makes a batch of margaritas
½ can (6-ounce can) frozen limeade
½ can (6-ounce can) frozen lemonade
6 ounces tequila
2 ounces triple sec
1 ounce Rose’s lime juice
Blend until smooth
Garnish with slices of lime, lemon, orange and strawberry

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