I’m not sure what this says about me, but my favorite kind of alcohol is tequila. (Maybe I’ll write a Thirsty Thursday about what your favorite alcohol to drink says about you, but that’s for a different day.) Maybe it’s because my first drink was a shot of Jose Cuervo with the classic companions of lime and salt. Mind you, at the ripe age of 18 — the legal drinking age of where I was at the time — I had barely even sipped any kind of alcohol because I wasn’t particularly interested beforehand or even at the time. But I was with my cousins and sisters and I was of legal age, so I figured, why not give it a try?
Well, I don’t know who thought straight tequila was an appropriate drink to give a first-timer, but I question their judgment. But then again, maybe it was for the best, because that first experience has certainly primed me to handle the bite and sting of any drink I’ve tried thus far. Now I’ve got a taste for tequila and mezcal in their various drink forms, including the classic margarita.
Over the weekend, I was in College Station, Texas for a conference at Texas A&M University and enjoyed some drinks while I was in the lone star state. Spoiler: all of them were good. Maybe I just don’t notice it in Connecticut, but even most of the fast casual spots in town served up alcohol. Not just pre-packaged beer and wine, as some places in the area like Blaze do, but actual cocktails as well. Here’s what I tried in Texas.
Velvet Taco: Ranch water, margarita and paloma
This trendy, fast casual taco place serves up fun flavors you can enjoy with a small, but delicious selection of alcoholic drinks. If you’re going to keep it simple, do it well, and Velvet Taco delivers. I originally ordered the ranch water with Lunazul premium blanco tequila, lime juice, agave nectar, lime and lime Topo Chico because it was the drink on the menu I hadn’t tried anything like. I thought it was refreshing and tasty enough, although I felt like it needed a tad bit more sweetness. However, I tried my friend’s frozen margarita with the same tequila, as well as orange liquor, fresh lime juice and agave nectar, and was immediately enamored. I always try to branch out but recognize there are some drinks you can’t go wrong with. The margarita was perfectly tart and the frozen aspect elevated the drink. I also tried my friend’s paloma with tequila, Jarritos grapefruit soda, lime juice, agave nectar and grapefruit and thought the fruity flavor stood out in a good way to balance the alcohol flavor, but not overwhelmingly.
Hopdoddy: Strawberry margarita on the rocks
This fast casual burger place has a fully functioning bar and an extensive margarita list, which made this tequila lover pretty happy, albeit a bit torn about what to order. I always like fruity flavors with my margaritas or other classic cocktails, so I ordered the strawberry margarita with Altos Plata tequila, Cointreau orange liqueur, strawberry, fresh lime juice and agave shaken over ice.
My concern with alcoholic beverages and cocktails specifically is that they’ll be too sweet. It’s not a matter of taste — because let’s be honest, the sweet drinks are delicious — but I try to avoid sugar crashes and unnecessary hangovers when I can. Margaritas often fall victim to the too sweet problem, but a good one with the balance of quality tequila and a generous splash of lime and salt on the rim can alleviate that. Added fruit flavors often make drinks sweeter, especially if they’re added through a syrup. However, this strawberry margarita was the ideal level of sweet and strong without tasting too alcoholic or sugary. My friend who got the original margarita on the rocks immediately proclaimed the superiority of my drink after she tried it, and I agree.
World of Beer: House margarita
I love happy hours at restaurants and bars so you can enjoy classic cocktails without breaking the bank. No flavors to be added here, so I ordered the house margarita with Espolon Blanco tequila. With salt on the rim, the drink was on the tarter side, and as you may have already noticed, I like it that way. The drink was the perfect no-frills refreshing, punchy drink.