5 Agave Alternatives To The Margarita

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Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow, which means it’s time to round up your best happy hour crew for some appropriate revelry (i.e. anything with agave). Check out these five spots for cocktails that go far beyond your preconceived Cinco plans, from Mexico-tuned takes on the classics, to inventive salt rims and syrups.

THE OAXACAN NEGRONI at ABAJO
Bartender William Aporih put a lot of thought into this spin on a negroni — his all-time favorite cocktail. “I wanted to create a well balanced cocktail with a Mexican touch and also something that any negroni expert would appreciate,” he says. That translates to Barolo Chinato, a softer alternative to Carpano Antica, that won’t outshine the drink’s main base: reposado tequila. Gin remains in play to add to the aromatics, and Aporih garnishes the dram with zest from a lime instead of an orange — another nod to Mexico.

THE LAS POQUIANCHIS at THE BLACK ANT
Bartender Gustavo Ortega Oyarzun calls upon Mezcales de Leyenda Oaxaca, Plymouth Sloe Gin, guava puree, ginger juice, lemon, and Peychaud’s bitters for this sweet and spicy cocktail, which is inspired by a story of the women in Northern Mexico. After shaking all ingredients together, he strains it into a chile poblano salt-rimmed coupe glass, which he then garnishes with an orange peel.

THE YELAPA FIZZ at MASA Y AGAVE
If you thought Cinco de Mayo started and ended with overly salted margs, think again. Beverage director Courtenay Greenleaf uses La Venenosa Maximiliana raicilla as the base for this very floral and barely bubbly highball. She then combines it with several aromatic ingredients, including cocchi americano, fresh pineapple juice, lavender syrup, and bitters. "The drink's floral-forward scent epitomizes springtime for me," she says. "Drinking it also reminds me of its inspiration: a trip I took with my fiancé to research raicilla in Jalisco, near the coastal fishing town of Yelapa.”

THE LIBIDO at FREUD
The menu may focus on Austrian classics at this Greenwich Village newcomer, but drinks span all regions. A handful of flavors collide in this cocktail, from tequila and lime juice, to honey jalapeño syrup, turmeric juice, and Thai basil. All ingredients are strained and served over a large ice cube in a rocks glass, which is rimmed with lemon thyme salt.

THE DOMINGO at REBELLE
Designed by Jordan Mericle, the cocktail program at this recently opened Bowery spot features a selection of drinks that reference French and American classics. The team’s ideation process headed further south for the Domingo, a new spring cocktail that features blanco tequila, blood orange puree, housemade wasabi syrup, and lime juice. All ingredients are shaken with sprigs of fresh cilantro before being topped with a Genesee floater

By Nicole Schnitzler 

(Photos from left: The Libido by Noah Fecks; Las Poquianchis courtesy of The Black Ant; The Domingo by Katie Burton)


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