… Of Ithaca’s margaritas
There was a time — before I spent a semester in Southern California, back when I could pull off day drinking without the excuse of “happy hour” — when I just didn’t get tequila. In my experience, tequila was to be taken with a grain of salt (and a bite of a lime); if I was agreeing to tequila, the night was already compromised and more than likely about to get worse.
Then, everything changed. I turned 21 and learned that 1. not all alcohol had to be taken in the form of a shot and 2. any drinking experience would be enhanced by avoiding alcohol sold in plastic bottles. Then, I discovered margaritas.
While I continue to be generally unsophisticated in my choices, I have learned that I can rely on two rules to determine how much I’ll enjoy a cocktail: the first is how feminine the name of the drink is, and the second is the likelihood that I’d find myself — or anyone else — drinking said girly concoction on a beach.
Of course, when setting my standards to Ithaca’s margaritas the mark of a great drink is its ability to be taken mentally to a beach — even on the harshest nights (or mid-afternoons…) of Ithaca’s winter.
Viva, located in the heart of the Commons, has long been considered a staple in Ithaca’s Mexican scene. Viva’s variety of margaritas offers several different takes on the drink. If you’re looking for the most “genuine” margarita, I recommend “The Love Shack,” but if you’re up for a real challenge, try to order “The Goat” without laughing.
However, what makes Viva’s margaritas stand out aren’t the silly names that make each of them different, but rather the ingredients that they all share: fresh-squeezed lime juice and relatively low prices. Plus, the only thing that makes a $5 margarita even better is a $4 happy hour margarita with happy friends, who get happier as the best two hours of every day go by. You know where to find me from 4-6 p.m.
Agava is newer to the Mexican scene in Ithaca,, and offers a more sophisticated atmosphere than its amigos in Ithaca. While Agava offers food of an undeniably higher quality than the other establishments, the frozen margarita wasn’t up to the standard — it was decent at best.
We ordered frozen margaritas in convenient pitcher form; unfortunately, the only thing harder than trying to pour the margarita into your glass as the pitcher diminishes throughout the night is the struggle met by trying to drink a frozen margarita from a wide-rimmed glass.
However, Agava does earn some points back for offering themed nights — I was lucky enough to attend on ‘90s trivia night. I’d be lying if I didn’t think the strong, frozen margarita was partially responsible for my ability to recite all of Diddy’s stage names — although my iTunes Top 25 Most Played playlist may have helped.
Fun fact: Ithaca College’s journalism department requires all journalism majors to learn a non-native, foreign language “through the 202 course level or demonstrated equivalent proficiency.” I’d like to think that my four semesters of Spanish were in preparation of this moment of serious journalism.
“Loco” is the Spanish word for “crazy.” That’s an appropriate adjective to describe my experience at Loco Cantina. As in, I was crazy to think that I would enjoy their margarita when I walked into this dingy bar, which supposedly specializes in the cocktail. The ambience of this Collegetown bar was awkward to say the least. It felt too dark and loud to be a restaurant, but too empty to be a bar.
Carly Sitzer is a senior journalism who is looking for a job. Seriously. Email her at csitzer1[at]ithaca[dot]edu. (Serious inquiries only).