Head out to happy hour in Austin and you’ll see margaritas galore—and not just at Tex-Mex joints. The city is full of margarita fanatics, so the competition to produce the tastiest one is fierce. Fresh lime juice and high-quality tequila are must-haves, but some restaurants and bars around town are adding creative twists to keep things interesting.
Named after a regular, Gill’s Margarita is a clean-and-crisp margarita on the rocks, made with fresh-squeezed lime juice, Don Julio Blanco and Cointreau. Prefer the frozen variety? Maudie’s House Frozen is equally popular, particularly after a long, hot summer day in Austin. Unlike many, this frozen margarita isn't blended from any sort of pre-made concoction.
Traditionalists may balk at the idea of a red margarita, but their concerns will quickly fall away once they have a sip of the Silver Coin Margarita. This summery cocktail is mixed with watermelon-infused silver tequila and Cointreau, and perfectly topped with a fresh watermelon slice.
Mezcalina at El Naranjo
Subbing in mezcal for tequila, the mezcalina has more of a smoky flavor than your traditional margarita. El Naranjo's is a surprising blend of ingredients that is just as tasty as it is innovative. With muddled serrano peppers, agave nectar, basil, pineapple juice, and lime juice, you've got a drink that's both spicy and sweet.
If you like your margarita with a hint of spice, try the Chilanga, a frozen margarita with ground chili pepper on the rim. There's also a blend of chiles in the drink itself, plus a dash of Valentina hot sauce, orange juice, and lime juice. The spice-infused frozen cocktail goes down smooth after the first few slurps. For a more traditional drink, try Charlie’s Special, served on the rocks with Don Julio silver, Cointreau, lime, and agave nectar.
Another unconventional take on the margarita, the Abita Rita blends Abita Amber beer with orange juice, Avion Silver, Grand Marnier, and lime juice. While you might usually keep your beer separate from your tequila, trust us on this one. The popular Louisiana beer has a malty, caramel flavor, giving this unusual cocktail a smooth finish.
Eye-catchingly pink, the frozen prickly pear margarita at El Chilé Cafe is excellent fodder for your Instagram. Don't let the pink fool you: It's only slightly sweet and has a sneaky kick. If you're in the mood for a classic, opt for the Top Shelf instead.
There’s no shortage of creativity in La Condesa’s impressive drink menu. A wonderful blend of tangy and sweet flavors, the Margarita La Clásica is made with El Jimador Blanco, Patrón Citrónge, lime, and agave nectar. Instead of standard salt around the rim, the glass is sprinkled with an aromatic cactus-lemongrass salt. Or, try the Alma Blanca margarita, a quirky blend of ginger liqueur, habanero-infused Exotico Blanco, corn, pineapple juice, and agave nectar—polished off with a hibiscus-and-rose-infused salt rim.
The avocado margarita is sort of like cilantro—people either love it enthusiastically or actively hate it. But the creamy texture and subtle flavor win many people over at Curra's. If you’re not ready to make the leap, Curra’s also has several flavors of traditional frozen and on-the-rocks margaritas.
The 512 Rita owes much of its smoothness to its 100% agave tequila, sourced from Austin-based brand Tequila 512. Though it's triple-distilled with volcanic water in Jalisco, Mexico, this tequila has a distinctively Austin flair. Guero's Longhorn Margarita—concocted from Corzo Silver, Cointreau, lime juice and a splash of orange juice—is also a big crowd pleaser.