As the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Louisville is known far and wide for its love of the brown spirit. But on certain occasions — which are few and far between — we will set it aside if the celebration calls for it. And in the case of National Margarita Day, which is Wednesday, Feb. 22, we say, “Bring on the tequila!”
Insider rounded up some of the best places in Louisville to get great margaritas, the most popular cocktail sold in the United States. And while history is a bit cloudy as to who actually invented the tequila-based drink or even who came up with the day, we raise a salted-rim toast to the simple yet delicious cocktail that might make for a cloudy Thursday.
Hands down one of the best locally owned Mexican restaurants in town, El Mundo and its margaritas are legendary. They have a full menu of various styles of the cocktail, and you can also order them frozen or on the rocks. On Wednesdays, the house margarita is $4 all day long. If someone else is buying, you might want to try the Top Shelf ($8.50) or the spicy Mosquito ($7.50) made with jalepeno and cilantro.
You might not expect this little NuLu bar to fashion a delicious margarita, but the spicy version of their house margarita is one of the best-kept secrets in town. They even rim the glass with salt and cayenne pepper to give it that extra kick you sometimes need around this time of year. The house and spicy house margarita is $7, but if you can skip out of work early, the delicious concoctions will only be $3.50 from noon-4 p.m.
We’re lumping these two together because they’re sisters, and beverage director Susie Hoyt, who has a skilled hand in both establishments, said they will indeed be celebrating National Margarita Day with specials on their made-from-scratch version of the drink with Lunazul Blanco tequila. Why did she pick that tequila? Let’s let her explain:
“Lunazul Blanco is made from 100 percent Weber Blue Agave, which guarantees a certain level of quality. Ingredients are important, because that means it’s a cleaner spirit and will give you less of a hangover. There are a lot of mixed tequilas out there, and you don’t really know what is in them because they only have to be 51 percent agave. The rest is sugars, neutral grain spirit and maybe low-quality rum — you really don’t know. That will certainly make you feel much worse the next day.”
Don’t forget about this local Mexican gem situated downtown: They’ll be celebrating the drink all day long, and their Casa Rita will be $4 during happy hour from 4-7 p.m. Of course the restaurant has about a dozen ways to make a margarita, so if you’re looking to be creative and don’t mind cucumbers in the mix, get out there and try something new. (Tacos also are half off during happy hour.)
We find ourselves still referring to this Whiskey Row bar as Manny & Merle’s, but we doubt management will mind. Their margaritas are still as delicious as the day they first opened their doors, and from 3-7 p.m., they’re on special for $3.50. The menu changed slightly with the new name, but they’ve still got street tacos available, as well as fried chicken. Their margs are served in a jar, which makes them feel extra down-home.
Is it a coincidence that National Margarita Day falls on a Wednesday, when all three Havana Rumba locations offer 50 percent off the cocktail? Sounds more like divine intervention to us. While the restaurant may be known for mojitos, their margaritas are quality and can be ordered frozen or on the rocks as well. Half-off all day long … what are you waiting for?
Live out in the ‘burbs? That doesn’t mean you can’t participate in the homage to the margarita. Guaca Mole offers dozens of variations of the drink, and happy hour runs from 4-7 p.m., when you’ll find their house margarita for $3.25. They’ve also got an impressive array of tequilas, so take Hoyt’s advice above and experiment with different brands.