Brew City Bar Tab: Viva las 'Ritas!
Bienvenidos a Mexican Dining Week on OnMilwaukee.com. This week, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, we're spicing things up with daily articles about Mexican restaurants, foods, drinks, sweets and more. Enjoy a week of sizzling stories that will leave you craving Milwaukee's Latin offerings. ¡Olé!
If there's something I love more than drinking, it's a good theme week.
As soon as I heard we were celebrating todas las cosas Méxicanas (all things Mexican) this week at OnMilwaukee.com, naturally I couldn't resist throwing together a themed Bar Tab. And even more naturally, I made it margaritas. It's Friday! Tomorrow's Cinco de Mayo! The reasons are endless, but most importantly: shouldn't you know where to find the best 'ritas in town?
Of course you should. That's why, after a quick informal poll, I ventured out to three of Milwaukee's favorite margarita makers – Café Corazon, Cempazuchi and Riviera Maya – with the intention of pitting them against each other in a glass-to-glass-to-glass battle for Sauza supremacy.
Competition and the drinks were stiff. In an effort to keep things somewhat impartial, I ordered as close to the classic, on-the-rocks variety I could find and stacked them all against three categories: flavor, booziness and bang for your buck.
So, place your bets and come out swigging – the results are below. Salud!
Winner: Riviera Maya
Margaritas are complex mistresses. They need to exist in a delicate equilibrium between sweet, salty and tangy. All three of the margaritas in question managed this, but Riviera Maya's struck a great balance between the two. They mix their Classic Lime concoction with triple sec and lemonade, and the extra citrus kick is just enough to elevate the taste while still staying true to the time-honored recipe.
Cempazuchi's La Casa margarita took second place here. Their house cocktail is made with fresh-squeezed lime juice, which accents the tequila well but was a little too bite-y for me. Also, kudos to Café Corazon for their generously salted rim.
With a mix heavy on the tequila portion of the ratio, Cemp wins this category. All three contenders put up a good fight in this category, but Cempazuchi's margarita definitely had the most liberal pour. As the icing on the cake (or the salt on the glass?), they also boast a menu of multiple tequila-margarita combos to help you better pick your poison.
Riviera Maya takes a close second here, however, for its own lengthy list of tequilas. Their spirits menu reads like a wine list, boasting Silver, Reposado, Anejo and Reserva Especial tequilas by the shot or per margarita (glass or pitcher). It's all in how you use it, though, so Riviera Maya falls just short of victory here.
Bang for your buck
Winner: Riviera Maya
While Cempazuchi's La Casa margarita rang in cheapest in the contest ($6.75 to Café Corazon and Riviera Maya's $7), one quarter in savings pales in comparison to Riviera Maya's laundry list of tequilas and selection of inventive margaritas. Ingredient-wise – even for the classic recipe – these margaritas are a steal. But, if you're looking for simple and straightforward, they have you covered too. Factor in the goblet of near-fish bowl proportions (this may be a little exaggeration on my part, but not by much) and you'll be out little more than $20 before you call it a night.
Ganadora (that's Spanish for "female winner," because margaritas are ladies): Riviera Maya
Cleaning house in the flavor category and coming in at a close second for booziness and value, I declare Riviera Maya's Classic Lime margarita the victor of this margarita-off. It's fitting, really, since the chalice it's served in even has that regal, born-for-greatness quality about it. Looks are only glass-deep, however, so thankfully this 'rita packs plenty of substance to match its style.
There is a guy at J&B's Blue Ribbon (52nd and Bluemound) on Friday nights who makes a margarita that will melt your face off. In a good way. Ask for it blended; don't try to have more than 3. <- Speaking from experience.
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