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COSME el ninja cocktail
Paul WagtouiczCOSME el ninja cocktail

The 16 absolute best margaritas in NYC

Frozen, fruity, on the rocks, with salt or without—no matter how you prefer them, these are the best margaritas in NYC.

Edited by
Will Gleason
Written by
Time Out contributors
&
Victoria Marin
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Sure–celebrating Cinco de Mayo satisfies any South-of-the-Border craving, but why reserve the city’s best margaritas in NYC for just one day? It's always time for tequila, especially when shaken up with a hit of spice or swirled with sweet watermelon. Hit NYC’s best Mexican restaurants for some serious agave spirits, or down them alongside some of Gotham's best tacos. Fair warning, though: You're gonna want a pitcher.  

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to cocktails in NYC

Best margaritas in NYC

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Flatiron
  • price 3 of 4

Enrique Olvera, the megawatt Mexico City talent behind Pujol, made his stateside debut with this bare-concrete Flatiron dining room delivering elegant, high-gear small plates that are pristine, pricey and market-fresh. And, of course, the cocktails follow suit, including the mescal- and gin-laced El Ninja that balances tangy shiso shrub and sharp ginger with smooth fresh lime.  

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Park Slope
  • price 2 of 4

Hibiscus-tinged lime juice is a sweet-tart introduction to this quaff, but the surprisingly spicy rim of hibiscus-and-chili–flecked salt, (plus a generous pour of tequila) bring it to the big leagues: from fruity and floral to a true heavy hitter. Trust us —order a second round for the fun flavor and the killer buzz.

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Margarita Calidad at Alta Calidad
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Prospect Heights

One of our favorite parts of the New York food scene is how food cultures evolve and blend in this deliciously diverse city. Chef-owner Akhtar Nawab felt distinct similarities between the cuisines of Mexico and India—his parents’ native country–so he created a marriage of the two cuisines with exciting flavors and satisfying standout dishes, all of which pair perfectly with the house marg.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Greenpoint
  • price 2 of 4

Yes, this is a list focused on agave-forward cocktails, but hear us out: what if your favorite mezcal partnered up with a piña colada for an unforgettable Mexican-Caribbean marriage made in heaven?

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Williamsburg
  • price 2 of 4

A loyal set of neighborhood hipsters and visiting Manhattanites flock to this sunlit Graham Avenue cantina to gorge on expertly prepared, overstuffed tacos and a selection of margaritas made with house-infused premium tequila, muddled fruits and fresh juices. While the classic lime version is sure to do the trick, we recommend mixing things up–if you’ve got a high heat tolerance, go for the “VERY SPICY” habañero variation, which blends especially well with mango juice.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Lower East Side

There’s nothing classic about this selection from Casa Mezcal’s “classy” margarita menu–made with cilantro-infused tequila, pineapple juice, chipotle syrup and a grasshopper salt rim, it’s a welcome break from the oft-sweet takes on agave-based beverages.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Williamsburg
  • price 2 of 4

Dramatic light fixtures, towering gray cement walls and industrial furnishings create a sleek, almost-dystopian atmosphere at this trendy South Williamsburg restaurant. And the menu is not far behind in its ambitiously modern approach to Mexican flavors, Spanish tapas and defiantly modern cocktails. A prime example of chef Jason Marcus’ unique vision is the deconstructed margarita, which showcases house-infused tequila poured over ice cubes made from seasonal fruit juices, spices and herbs. Be sure to sip slowly for the full effect.

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Mexican Firing Squad at Añejo Tequileria y Restaurante
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Hell's Kitchen
  • price 2 of 4

Elaborate chandeliers, a brick-lined, blue-lit bar and 100 different types of tequila set the stage at Añejo, Top Chef fan favorite Angelo Sosa’s stylish Mexican outpost. Adventurous imbibers would do well to sample the Mexican Firing Squad, an intoxicating blend of peppery Tapatio tequila, grenadine and fresh lime juice, finished with a spiced salt rim that acts like a fiesta for your taste buds. Don’t let the brutal name scare you away—this sipper is as refreshing as it is aggressive, making it an ideal companion to Añejo’s dangerously succulent short rib tacos.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Lower East Side
  • price 2 of 4

From palomas to pulque, this snug Lower East Side eatery’s cocktail game has always been distinctly on-point thanks to seasoned mixologist Alex Valencia (PDT, Apothéke, Little Branch). The Oaxaca Express in particular mixes smoky mescal with jalapeño-infused agave, fresh lime juice and touches of basil and cucumber for an easy-to-drink and superbly refreshing tipple able to hold its own against the menu’s more complex offerings.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Park Slope

Hot take time: There’s possibly no better fruit base for a margarita than guava, with its subtly sweet and slightly sour flavors. Casa Azul leans in on the natural balance of guava and agave (they’re basically anagrams!) but kicks things up a notch with jalapeño-infused tequila, dry curaçao and a housemade spicy salt rim.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Upper East Side
  • price 1 of 4

Whether you’re in the mood for light-and-frozen or sultry-and-on-the-rocks, this cozy, family-run Upper East Side storefront cantina is guaranteed to have a mind-blowing margarita with your name on it. Fans of fruit should opt for the smile-inducing Rainbow Margarita, where smooth Don Julio Blanco tequila meets brightly colored swirls of strawberry, mango and blue curaçao in a nostalgic snow cone–like celebration of all things summer. Ask for yours topped with a flaming lime wedge for an extra kick you won’t regret.

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