Check your cares with your coat and step into a very different central Manchester space. Those familiar with locations in Hawksmoor’s native London will recognise the dim, not dingy lighting, den-like environ and casual service that makes the bar here a big draw. Order off-menu for your margarita straight up. Or, ask for the Grapefruit Picador – with deliciously old-school Velvet Falernum, fresh lime and a grapefruit sherbet. It turns out grapefruit may be tequila’s new best friend.
Hawksmoor Manchester,184-186 Deansgate, Manchester, UK, 0161 836 6980
Common is somewhat a Northern Quarter institution, but who knew their cocktails were this good? Graduate here to a Tommy’s Margarita, which uses natural (and trending) agave in place of traditional triple sec to sweeten the serve. El Jimador elevates the mix, with just the right dose of lime and elbow grease to make this one of the best margaritas in the city. Extra points for a coupette expertly dressed with delicate flecks of sea salt. Take it to the next level with the addition of cucumber, coriander and jalapeños. Zing.
Common, 39 Edge St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, UK, 0161 832 9245
Crazy Pedro’s Part-Time Pizza Parlour
It’s a slippery slope in the margarita game, though with happy hour 5-9 pm Sunday to Friday, it takes little persuasion to hop aboard the frozen margarita train. Don’t be fooled by those frat party plastic cups – these are a world away from the frozen margaritas you know and loathe. With a Jose Cuervo base and sugar of both triple sec and agave that says ‘what the hey!’, things are nice and spiced here, too. Make it fruity with mango, Cholula hot sauce and chilli flakes, or try their (quite) sweet peach and black pepper number.
Tariff & Dale
This attractive corner block restaurant and bar hangs its hat on a menu of nine classic cocktails served three ways, and yes – the margarita is among them. Here, the Tommy’s uses Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, made with 100 percent organic agave. It’s smoky as it should be, served over ice. However, if a passing resemblance to lapsang souchong tea doesn’t appeal, take the classic. Made with lime, lemon and a dry orange curaçao, it’s a more balanced way to make a margarita (and satisfies any urges for sipping at a fancy glass).
Tariff & Dale, 2 Tariff St, Manchester, UK, 0161 710 2233