When travelers visit the Riviera Maya, they often want two things – a perfect spot on the beach and a margarita.
The origins of the margarita have been debated since 1937 with everyone from Mexican restauranteurs to American socialites laying claim to its invention. What is not in dispute, however, is the seductive power of the moonlit magic that can be conjured from seven parts tequila, four parts Cointreau, and three parts lime juice.
“A perfect margarita is a balance of its ingredients where one doesn’t overpower the other,” said Franco Bongiorno, the bartender at the Tiny Tiki Hut in Playa del Carmen.
Bongiorno is developing a growing and enthusiastic following on Instagram and among locals for his inventive cocktails and twists on classics such as the “mescalita,” which is a margarita made with mezcal instead of tequila.
“Expert drinkers want to try something new,” Bongiorno said. “I once had customers ask me for a version made with cucumber and habanero.”
A classic margarita is shaken and poured on the rocks (over ice), blended with ice (frozen margarita), or without ice (straight up) and often served with a crown of salt on the rim of the glass. Many bartenders and mixologists in the Riviera Maya like to incorporate a tropical flavor to margaritas by adding mango, peach, strawberry, banana, cucumber, and raspberry.
Defining the “perfect” margarita is subjective. There’s a perfect margarita for every taste and preference. Nevertheless, the 60-mile stretch of coastline in the Mexican Caribbean is brimming with wonderful places – from local hangouts to swanky beach clubs – where you can quench your thirst for this classic, Mexican drink.
Here are a few of our favorite places in the Riviera Maya to get a margarita. There are tons more to discover.
Turtle Bay Bakery and Café – Only a short walk from Akumal Bay or a five-minute bike ride from Half Moon Bay or Yal Ku Lagoon, Turtle Bay is known for its traditional margaritas which are served on the rocks or frozen. Turtle Bay also features the Don Julio Rita, which is a variation of the classic margarita using Don Julio Reposado Tequila.
La Buena Vida – What could be better than sipping a margarita? Enjoying sunset margaritas during Happy Hour at La Buena Vida. Perched on the picturesque Half Moon Bay, La Buena Vida is known for its specialty margaritas, rope swings at the bar, and quirky Day of the Dead theme.
La No. 20 Cantina – If you must be in the crush of tourists and crowds on Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue, La No. 20 Cantina is an excellent place to stop for margaritas. With an expert staff, the Cantina has one of the largest selections of tequila of any bar in Playa, and its spirits are based on Mexican production.
Tiny Tiki Hut – The Tiny Tiki Hut, on Avenida 20 between Calle 4 and Calle 6, is fast becoming a favorite among locals and ex-pats alike for its laid-back vibe, succulent Asian-fusion menu, and creative cocktails. The “mescalita,” a tantalizing twist on the classic margarita using mezcal instead of tequila, is a treat you don’t want to miss.
Zenzi – Located in the heart of Playa del Carmen on the corner of 10th Avenue and near the lighthouse just a block from Fifth Avenue, Zenzi is a great place to enjoy live music and events and a margarita while soaking in the white-sand beach and glittering blue waters of the Caribbean.
Charlie’s — Charlie’s Restaurant on Avenida Tulum in the Pueblo is known for its authentic Mexican character, dishes, and drinks. Conveniently located by the bus station on the main strip, its margaritas, and live music are not to be missed.
Hartwood — A darling of trendy New Yorkers, Hartwood is known for its sustainable approach to sourcing and preparing its menu which changes daily, depending on what is available that day by land or sea. This approach extends to its margaritas in which you can taste the freshness of the limes used in its recipe. Hartwood is located on Tulum’s famed Beach Road. Reservations are hard to get and walking in might be preferable during low season.
Mezzanine — On the other end of Beach Road from Hartwood is Mezzanine, a Thai restaurant perched on the cliff with a spectacular view of the Caribbean. Mezzanine features a daily 2-for-1 margarita special with variations like mango, raspberry mint, cucumber, and Thai basil.
Inspired to go on a quest to find the best margaritas in the Riviera Maya? Inquire today about our vacation rental specials for your next decadent, vacation escape.
Photos are courtesy of Buena Vida, Tiny Tiki Hut, and Mezzanine.