Monday, April 22, 2024

How to celebrate National Margarita Day in Long Beach

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It’s National Margarita Day—but this list largely would have been impossible if it weren’t for Jay Verdiales not only organizing the first Long Beach Margarita Week but inviting me as a judge. Verdiales and his crew at Oeuvre Creative Group–including Imani “ICO” Onyia and Vinny Martinez—chose establishments that “hand craft each of their margaritas and are places we believe offer an experience to locals and people visiting our city.”

In that spirit, I picked ten of my own favorites—some from Long Beach Margarita Week, some not. In no particular order…


Gaucho Beach

780 E. Shoreline Dr.

What kind of margarita?

Strawberry-basil margarita on the beach. Literally on the beach. It’s wonderfully balanced (as long as it’s made by Kandice) and the highlight of my judging at Long Beach Margarita Week.

best margaritas long beach last call
The strawberry-basil margarita from Gaucho Beach is beautiful—and shockingly delicious. Photo by Brian Addison.

Panxa Cocina

3937 E. Broadway

What kind of margarita?

The margarita that is an ode to the vag-lovin’ painting pioneer Georgia O’Keefe—because that’s its literal name: “Georgia O’Keefe.” It’s fruity, tart, sweet, balanced—with the city’s largest agave spirits selection at your whim (which we are celebrating with a $30 tasting of over 20 tequilas and mezcals for Long Beach Last Call, FYI. Get your tickets).


Viaje

5224 E. 2nd St.

What kind of margarita?

The “Mezcalito:” Using the other agave spirit as a base over tequila, this Espadín mezcal-meets-peach, habanero, and epazote is delightful—and comes from one of the city’s most underrated cocktail programs.

best margaritas long beach last call
The “Mezcalito” from Viaje. Photo by Brian Addison.

Padre / Mezcalero

525 E. Broadway

What kind of margarita?

The one loved by nearly every Californian: the perfect cucumber margarita—in a place that won’t be around for long.

margaritas long beach last call
The pepino margarita from Padre. Photo by Brian Addison.

The Grasshopper

136 E. Anaheim St.

What kind of margarita?

An amalgamation of blood orange and Montenegro that seemingly befits its soulful 70s vibe, The Grasshopper is a space that has become synonymous with solid cocktails.

best margaritas long beach last call
The blood orange margarita from The Grasshopper is a hidden gem. Photo by Brian Addison.

Lola’s Mexican Cuisine

2030 E. 4th St. / 4140 Atlantic Ave.

What kind of margarita?

The perfectly pink type from a Long Beach staple. Their “Pink Guava Margarita” that includes coconut and, honestly, pure deliciousness.

best margaritas long beach last call
Pink in love: The guava and coconut margarita from Lola’s. Photo by Brian Addison.

El Barrio Cantina

1731 E. 4th St.

What kind of margarita?

The perfect classic margarita and its variations—all done with a specific taste (like chamoy-tajín rims) that defines it as one of the best (and the place which will host the Finale Party of Long Beach Margarita Week today from 6PM to 10PM).

best margaritas long beach last call
El Barrio Cantina has always been home to some of the best margaritas. Period. Photo by Brian Addison.

The Bungalow

6400 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. #200

What kind of margarita?

Passion fruit-meets-Aperol margarita—annnnnnd the place which will host a massive ass opening party for Long Beach Last Call. Win, win.

best margarita long beach last call
The passion fruit-meets-Aperol margarita from The Bungalow. Photo by Brian Addison.

Selva

What kind of margarita?

The challenging one: A savory, chartreuse-meets-smoked salt concoction that is unlike any margarita you’ve had and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.

best margaritas long beach last call
This chartreuse-meets-salt margarita concoction is challenging and awesome. Photo by Brian Addison.

The Social List

What kind of margarita?

“El Tigre:” Where tequila and mezcal meets passion fruit and chile de arbol, this cocktail is wildly bright, with hints of smoke and heat. (This will also be home to Long Beach Last Call’s queer-centric event and partnership with the Good Luck Vinyl Club, where we will host a vinyl listening session to Madonna’s “Erotica.”)

best margaritas long beach last call
“El Tigre” from The Social List. Photo by Brian Addison.

Wait–you mention “Long Beach Last Call.” What is it?

After the success of my restaurant week last year during August, Long Beach Food Scene Week, bar owners and tenders rightfully asked: “What about a week for us?”

So I decided to oblige and present Long Beach Food Scene: Last Call, a ten-day long celebration of Long Beach’s amazing bar culture, it’s even more amazing workers, and the industry that often goes without recognition as one of our city’s largest economic and social drivers. 

Thanks to my collaborators—Scott Lennard of RNDC and Chris Lewis of Nosotros Tequila y Mezcal—we’ve created some 15 events across the ten-day span on Last Call. To say the least, we’ve worked our asses off and we hope you’ll come out and celebrate with us (that is, if we make it to Day 10 alive).

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

2 COMMENTS

    • Fuego is solid and I’ve featured them many a times on lists—but for margarita week, they strangely served a Paloma. Like, carbonated grapefruit soda and tequila—not a margarita no matter how you dice it.

      So… Maybe next year? If you do go readers, get their classic margarita. It’s awesome.

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