What is it about warm weather that makes us go margarita crazy? Is it the refreshingly tart citrus flavors? That salted rim harkening to the ocean and its sea air? The festive, celebratory feeling that drinking one inspires?
Oh, who are we kidding. It’s the tequila.
Like many other classic cocktails, margaritas are having a moment. Beverage directors and libation specialists (they’re not bartenders anymore, mind you) have gotten creative, using specialty tequilas, agave syrups and homemade infusions and add-ins to elevate the old standby to new levels of boutique craftiness. These concoctions are a fun way to experiment with new flavors, but sometimes the simple elements of lime, sugar, tequila and salt are all we need — and want — in a margarita.
We’ve got some great spots near Litchfield Beach & Golf where you can imbibe in this Mexican favorite — both fancy and familiar, but all fantastic.
Habaneros Mexican Cantina: This is our “duh” submission. One of Pawleys Island’s favorite Mexican restaurants of course serves margaritas and of course they’re delicious. Sip one to tame the heat of spicy carnitas tacos, or just belly up to the bar to enjoy one with a chips-and-guacamole starter. Be sure to head there on a Tuesday to enjoy their house margarita made with Degollado tequila for only $2.75.
La Playa Mexican Restaurant: Another fave of the locals and visitors alike, La Playa has earned rave reviews for its wonderful service, huge portions, fresh and authentic flavors, and of course, their margaritas. The Top Shelf Margarita is a fresh-juice-and-premium-tequila-filled masterpiece, served frozen or on the rocks. At $12.50 it might sound a little steep, but keep in mind you’ll only need one. And it’ll be a good one. Catch their house margarita for less dinero during Happy Hour when it’ll only set you back $3.
Bistro 217: These folks know what they’re doing. Excellent, fresh food; impeccable service; romantic environs… with a dash of intuitive, crowd-pleasing beverage options. In addition to a great wine selection, their cocktail menu is fabulous. They know all too well that what makes a margarita great also makes it caloric, and having a finger on the pulse of their clientele, they offer a Skinny Margarita made with Patron Silver, Cointreau, agave nectar and a squeeze of lime. Simple, natural and unbelievably delicious.
Wahoo’s Fish House: Nearby in scenic Murrells Inlet, the more intrepid among us might consider doing a “Margarita Crawl” to all the bars and restaurants serving the drink. On second thought, we’d like to remain upright so we’ll just do one at a time. Speaking of one at a time, that might be a hard choice to make at Wahoo’s given they serve several options: there’s the Perfect Patron made with premium Patron Silver, margarita mix, triple sec, lime and orange juice; the Moonlight Margarita that features a fruity azul splash of Blue Curacao; or the Frozen Margarita comprising tequila and a lime-strawberry mix. So, what is it you’re feeling? Top shelf? Blue? A slushy strawberry number? Decisions, decisions.
Bubba’s Love Shack: Also on the Inlet, Bubba’s has the eponymous Murrells Inlet Margarita, made with Lunazul Reposado tequila, triple sec, strawberry mix, pineapple juice and some sour mix all whirred up in a boozy frozen dervish. They profess it will be a “summertime favorite for the ages,” and with its premium booze and tropical flair, we’re not about to disagree. Also available are more standard margaritas with optional fruity add-ins: melon, peach, strawberry, apple or watermelon liqueurs ought to get you started on your buzz. Try one with any number of their down home, inventive Lowcountry specialties.
Texas Roadhouse: OK, so this is a chain. A big chain. But if you’re in the market for a margarita, they have ‘em. Big ones. Because everything in Texas is … you know. It’s also good for the indecisive among us, as a couple of their concoctions are actually margaritas blended with something else, such as sangria or a hurricane. Fancy yourself more of a purist? Give their Original Margarita a whirl. Made with three tequilas, sweet and sour mix, orange juice and agave nectar, it’s available either frozen or on the rocks. If you’re looking to keep the calorie count down, you’ll love their Skinny Lime Margarita with Margaritaville Tequila, di Amore Quatro Orange, lime juice and a dash of OJ.
Honorable mention: No, this is not in the South Strand, but we’d be remiss not to at least name check Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant in nearby Myrtle Beach. Not surprisingly, they have a number of options featuring their namesake drink.
What about you? What’s your favorite spot to get sweet, salty and a little soused in the South Strand?