Entre Restaurant and Bar, Sheraton Hotel – Lisle, IL

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Margarita, Entre Restaurant and Bar, Sheraton Hotel – Lisle, ILMy family made another trip up to the Western suburbs of Chicago to visit my sister. The first night, however, we would meet a friend for dinner. We had a little time before that dinner so my wife and I went down to the hotel lobby area where they had a nice bar. They had a margarita on the bar menu so of course I needed to try one.

Named Entre Restaurant and Bar, the menu listed the “Entre Margarita” with ingredients of Patron tequila, Grand Marnier, fresh squeezed lime juice, and sweet and sour. The main ingredients were pretty solid, but the inclusion of sweet and sour mix was a little worrisome. So when I was served the drink I was hopeful with tempered expectations.

The good news was that this Margarita was tasty, if a little on the sweet side. It was overall a well-balanced and flavorful drink, but unfortunately I could discern the flavor of the sweet and sour mix and that detracted from the overall enjoyment. So to sum up, this drink was pretty much an average, albeit flavorful, Margarita so it garners a 7.5 on my scale.

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36 Restaurant and Bar – Cape Girardeau, MO

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Margarita, 36 Restaurant and Bar – Cape Girardeau, MOOn a business trip to Cape Girardeau, MO, I decided to stop in for dinner at a place with the address of 36 N. Main Street. Fittingly enough, the name of the establishment was 36 Restaurant and Bar. From the description, it appeared that 36 had an upscale selection of food and and nice bar. So I figured they would likely have a good Margarita. Of course, the proof would be in the pudding … er, the drink.

The good news for me is that I got lucky that night. 36 did serve me a very good Margarita. Also the food was excellent. So a good night all around. The Margarita had a nice overall flavor with a little bit of a pronounced tequila hit up front. Overall it was smooth and well balanced, although I would have preferred a little more lime flavor. Because of the slight lack of lime, I give the drink an 8 where I may have given it an 8.5. Regardless, this was a still a fun night with a good drink and a good dinner. So if you’re in the Cape Girardeau area, make sure to stop in to 36 Restaurant and Bar and don’t hesitate to order a Margarita.

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Ginger Margarita, Cielo Restaurant & Bar, Four Seasons Hotel – St. Louis, MO

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Ginger Margarita, Cielo Restaurant & Bar – St. Louis, MOOn a nice summer’s evening my wife and I found ourselves at Cielo’s once again for some rooftop dining. And once again I decided to sample a different type of Margarita.

This time from Cielo’s I found a Ginger Margarita with listed ingredients including Sauza Blanco tequila, dry orange Curacau, Big O Ginger liqueur, and lime juice. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the ingredients were very similar to the Barrel Aged Margarita I had a few months earlier at Cielo’s. While I was a little disappointed in the Barrel Aged Margarita at the time, the good news was that this particular version of a Ginger Margarita was excellent.

For those who may like specialty Margaritas or a ginger flavored Margarita in particular, this is the way it should be made. At its core it is a great traditional Margarita with well-balanced flavors of lime and tequila. Then the addition of the ginger liqueur did not overpower the other flavors but instead integrated nicely, adding the spice of real ginger and the sweetness of the liqueur to make one very fine tasting drink.

Overall, this was one of the best ginger flavored Margaritas I have ever had. While not everyone likes real ginger flavor, if you do like ginger and you also like Margaritas, you will love the Ginger Margarita from Cielo. As a speciality Margarita, I give the Ginger Margarita I had that night at Cielo an 8.5 rating.

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Strawberry Lemongrass Infused Margarita, Mangia Italiano – St. Louis, MO

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Strawberry Lemongrass Infused Margarita, Mangia Italiano – St. Louis, MOAfter a vacation in Mexico, when arriving back home to the St. Louis area what else would one do but visit an Italian restaurant, right? My wife had visited Mangia Italiano recently and highly recommended that I should visit there and try one of their House Infused Margaritas. So who am I to refuse a lady’s wishes?

The menu listed either a hibiscus or strawberry lemongrass infused tequila as options for their Margarita. I opted for the strawberry lemongrass tequila, and the other ingredients were elderflower liqueur, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup. Some interesting ingredients for sure but at least they seemed fresh and tasty. The good news is that this was an excellent Margarita, even with the offbeat ingredients and infused tequila. The flavors were all very well balanced. It was just the right amount of sweet and tart components combined with a great tequila taste. Now I could not really discern the strawberry and/or lemongrass flavors infused in the tequila, so I must assume they just contributed to the overall sweetness of the drink. I give the Strawberry Lemongrass infused Margarita at Mangia Italiano an 8.5 for this visit. The next time I’ll need to try the Hibiscus infusion and let you know how that is.

If you’re looking for a really solid Margarita in the Grand Avenue area of St. Louis, don’t overlook this particular Italian restaurant! Mangia Italiano really knows their drinks!

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Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen and Bar, Cancun Airport – Cancun, Mexico

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Margarita, Guy Fieri's American Kitchen and Bar – Cancun, MexicoOur family was waiting at the airport in Cancun, Mexico after a stay at a resort in Riviera Maya. We were grabbing a late breakfast/early lunch and I decided that we should have one last Margarita before leaving the country. Luckily we found Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen and Bar inside the airport and they were serving Margaritas even at around 9:30 in the morning!

Now it’s difficult to know how good a Margarita served from a place inside an airport will be. But I was hopeful since this was a full bar and the bartender seemed to know what he was doing. Luckily, we did get a tasty Margarita. It had a good balance of flavors and the lime taste did stand out. My only complaint was that the overall flavor combination was just a little on the weak side and I would have a liked it to taste a little bit fresher. But for a last hurrah in Mexico while waiting inside an airport, it was a nice way to say goodbye. I rate the Margarita I had this visit at Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen and Bar a 7.5.

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Catrina’s – Edwardsville, IL

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Skinny Margarita with Agave Nectar, Catrina's – Edwardsville, ILA new Mexican restaurant and bar called Catrina’s opened up in my area in the last year and I’ve had the opportunity to sample their Margaritas several times. Being a new place, for many months their menu wasn’t quite set including their Margaritas, so I waited awhile to post a review while their Margarita offering stabilized. I took the opportunity of Cinco de Mayo to sample their Margaritas again and report my thoughts.

From the very beginning, Catrina’s has served very good Margaritas. They use fresh ingredients and quality tequilas and liquors. So it is hard to not have a good Margarita choosing from one of their many varieties. But the Margarita I have settled on is my own customization. They serve a drink they call a Skinny Margarita. Now I’m not one to worry about the calories when I drink a Margarita. So I really could care less that it is “skinny.” However, what I do like about the drink is that the ingredients are kept very simple and fresh. The recipe appears to be very similar to the way I make Margaritas at home (fresh lime juice, 100% agave tequila, etc.). So the only tweak that I ask the bartender when they make my Skinny Margarita is that they add just a little bit of agave nectar to give it a little more sweetness. When served with a little added agave nectar, the Catrina’s Skinny Margarita is a nearly perfect balance of sweetness, citrus, and tequila flavors. It goes down so smoothly you will soon want another … and another. So be careful!

I’m happy to give Catrina’s Skinny Margarita with added agave nectar a 9. It is great to have an excellent Margarita option again in Edwardsville, as unfortunately El Maguey’s Margarita has slipped the last few times I’ve been there. So if you are in the Edwardsville area, make sure to stop by Catrina’s and get their Skinny Margarita with a little added agave nectar. You won’t be disappointed. And make sure to tell them that Marcel sent you!

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Barrel Aged Margarita, Cielo Restaurant & Bar, Four Seasons Hotel – St. Louis, MO

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Barrel Aged Margarita, Cielo Restaurant & Bar – St. Louis, MOThe previous time I visited Cielo Restaurant & Bar at the Four Seasons in St. Louis, I tasted an “unusual Margarita.” While it wasn’t a Margarita I particularly liked, I wasn’t going to shy away from trying whatever Margarita they were showcasing, as they were highlighting a variety they called the “Barrel Aged Margarita”.

The menu listed the ingredients for the Barrel Aged Margarita as aged tequila, big o ginger liquor, dry curaçao, lime, and grilled orange. Certainly these ingredients sounded interesting so I was happy to give it a shot. Unfortunately while lime was specified, it was hard to discern any lime flavor. It did have good tequila flavor along with ginger and curaçao that blended together nicely, but without a good lime component, it falls a little short on my scale as a Margarita. As with the other Margarita I’ve had at Cielo, this was certainly not a traditional Margarita, but it was a nice drink regardless. I rate the Barrel Aged Margarita at Cielo a 7.

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Olive & Oak – Webster Groves, MO

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Margarita, Olive & Oak – Webster Groves, MOOlive & Oak is a new restaurant in the Webster Groves area of St. Louis. It has quickly gained a great reputation so far for quality food and drinks and on this visit I can verify that their food was quite excellent. But you’re reading this article because you want to know about their Margarita, right?

My impression of the Margarita I had this visit was that the flavor was good and seems to be made with fresh ingredients. However, the tart and sweet flavors don’t seem to balance quite right. Instead of complimenting each other, it feels like they are separate and “fighting” with each other. The initial flavor hit is a bit fruity and the finish was a little bitter. However, it did have good lime and tequila flavor, being made with Tres Agaves tequila. Overall I would rate the Olive & Oak Margarita a 7 for this visit. But I’m certainly eager to come back and try another Margarita to see if they can do better!

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Il Bel Lago – Creve Coeur, MO

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Italian Margarita, Il Bel Lago – Creve Couer, MO

A Margarita with Amaretto?

My wife had visited a fairly new restaurant in the St. Louis area called Il Bel Lago with a friend and wanted to bring me. As an Italian restaurant, I wasn’t necessarily expecting a good Margarita, but the place was classy and seemed like they had an excellent bar. On the menu was something called an Italian Margarita so I of course went ahead and ordered one.

The main difference between this “Italian” Margarita and a standard variety was the inclusion of Amaretto liqueur. Now personally I am a big fan of Amaretto and I make a nice Amaretto Sour with fresh lemon juice and a touch of agave nectar. But how would it work out in a Margarita? At first taste, the blend of fresh lime and citrus with amaretto was a little strange, but it quickly turned into a pleasant blend of sweet and tart flavors. The more I drank it, the more I liked it. Helping out the overall enjoyment of the drink was the fact that the bartender Angie came and talked to us and explained how she makes the drink and shared some of her tips and tricks. She definitely is a skilled bartender and offered a lot of knowledge on Margaritas and other cocktails. Now a Margarita made with amaretto liqueur may not be your thing, but I personally liked it and rated the Italian Margarita from Il Bel Lago an 8.

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Porter’s Steakhouse Revisited – Collinsville, IL

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Margarita, Porter's Steakhouse – Collinsville, ILI’ve written about the Margaritas at Porter’s Steakhouse before. So when I got an an opportunity to eat there again, I also took the opportunity to have another Margarita.

While last time the Margarita garnered an 8, this time unfortunately, the Margarita was not quite as good. The flavor was fairly good but it was a little too tart. The tequila flavor was good, but overall it tasted like it was made with a mix. I believe that if I had specified the ingredients, Porter’s would have delivered a better Margarita, but for this visit I rate it a 7. Which just goes to show that it is difficult to judge how good an establishment’s Margaritas are because a lot of the time the quality will depend on the bartender’s skill and particular recipe they may use. This is why it is important to visit a place many times to make sure to get a broad range of samplings. Yes, it’s hard work, but I’m happy to shoulder this burden for all of you!

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