There’s a reason margaritas evoke a tropical paradise. More refreshing than beer, more flavorful than wine and stronger than both, margaritas are like an alcoholic cold shower on a sweltering day. And as with many of life’s great pleasures, margaritas are a simple concoction: All you need is tequila, fresh lime, orange liqueur, ice and salt. We break down the classic cocktail to those five essential elements, exploring the importance, lore and best examples of each. All this reading getting you thirsty? Dig in to our list of top-notch margaritas around town, from a 45½-ounce monsterita to a fancy number lined with black lava salt. Salud!