They make some mean tequila drinks in Brew City.
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Tequila, on its own, can be pretty rough. But mix it with lime juice and a little sugar, and its spiky qualities fit right into a flavor-puzzle. So elemental is this relationship, it’s hard to imagine that someone had to invent it. (No one really knows who.) The seven places below are, for the most part, standbys for Milwaukee margaritas and not a one should steer you wrong. Each has a slightly different turn on the drink.
The Botanas margarita is large, not cheap (starting at about $8), and accented with a touch of orange Triple sec liquer. It’s similar to the Mad Dog margarita of Texas legend and well-balanced. It won’t leave you raving to your friends, but it’ll do its job admirably, whether alone or with food. And who can say no to a cactus glass?
816 S. 5th St.
Up the street from Botanas is this Latin-soul fusion tapas joint with a lovely bar overlooking a dance floor. The $6 basic margarita is conventional but unwavering and feels like good quality for the price. The clientele is friendly, and the kitchen stays open till 11 p.m.
606 S. 5th St.
These are crisp and fun to knock back. Margaritas are just $3.50 per glass, but it’s a relatively small glass. Pitchers are $17 and $27 depending on size. The large bar area is generally pretty mellow and a nice place to roll into, as generations of Milwaukeeans have discovered.
539 W. Virginia St.
4) Cafe Corazon
According to Corazon legend, the cooks stand around each day squeezing limes for margaritas, and not a single bottle of Rose’s Lime Juice can be found on the premises. And not only that, the simple syrup used to sweeten cocktails is made fresh using cane sugar and not corn syrup. The result is a knockout with deep flavor. The lime and tequila (even the $6 rail version) do exactly what they’re supposed to, and for $2 more, you can upgrade to a top shelf brand of liquor.
3129 N. Bremen St. | 2394 S. KK Ave.
5) El Senorial
This is the place to go if you like your margaritas with a punch. The large margarita is $7.95 and loaded with tequila. The food and atmosphere both accent said tequila, and there are large, wooden booths to hang out in.
1901 S. 31st St.
Vagabond throws a basket of fruit at the grand old margarita, plus chili liqueur and muddled watermelon, resulting in eight different variants. The Mango-Razz ($9) includes Patron orange liquor, fresh mango pieces and raspberries, in addition to more standard ingredients. The double hits of tequila and liqueur make it boozy in a pleasant way, melding with the raspberries, although the mango is somewhat lost.
1122 N. Edison St.
7) El Fuego
A big, colorful castle of a place that serves as a serious watering hole for a number of regulars. Financially speaking, the $3 margaritas from 3:30 to 6 are probably the best deal in town, although the plan, of course, is for you to move on to the dining room and spend your money there. The drinks themselves are solid, and the bartenders are friendly.
909 W. Layton Ave.