It’s always margarita season here in Santa Cruz. Whether it's National Margarita Day, Cinco de Mayo, a warm day, or taco time, we’re always ready for this zingy, refreshing drink. In Santa Cruz, you can sip the world’s most popular cocktail poolside, beachfront, or even from a scenic hilltop. Worried about your “tequila story?” You needn’t be. The top-shelf drinks below are all made from 100% blue agave which means they are clean and smooth enough to sip — not shoot! —
All Photos by Garrick Ramirez
This former historic hotel is Santa Cruz’s tequila central. Their light-flooded atrium bar is lined with an encyclopedic selection of tequilas which helps explain the boisterous atmosphere. Plus, El Palomar just launched a new drink menu that features several margaritas — from traditional to Skinny to Mango — as well as a few originals. Try their El Jefe, a frothy concoction of cucumber, jalapeno, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar with a chile-lime salt rim. Add a plate of tacos and you’re good to go!
Paradise Beach Grille
It’s all about waterfront drinks at this Capitola Village hotspot perched directly over the Soquel River and Capitola Beach. Nab a spot on their scenic patio or in the tropical-themed dining room and enjoy a vacation-worthy beach scene. Pair a Margarita with their signature Lava Flow Prawns and the only thing you’ll miss is a postcard telling your friends “Wish you were here.”
Linwood’s Bar + Grill at Chaminade Resort
The lush, peaceful setting of this luxe resort makes it feel more remote than it actually is. Yet just ten minutes from the beach, you can be high atop a hill sipping a tequila not found anywhere else in town. Chaminade teamed up with renowned tequila producer Patron to select their own Reposado tequila aged for 9 months in Hungarian Oak. Enjoy it straight or shaken in a Margarita on Chaminade’s airy outdoor patio with sweeping views of Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay.
Hula’s Island Grill & Tiki Room
Tiki-ify your Cinco de Mayo with a Lilikoi Margarita at Hula’s Island Grill. Under the watchful eye of tiki gods and retro-cool Hawaiian decor, Hula’s bartenders add a splash of passion fruit — or Lilikoi as it’s known on the islands — adding a tropical twist to the famous drink. Don’t miss Hula’s daily happy hour when the Lilikoi Margarita, as well as all house drinks and appetizers, are available at a discount. Happy hour schedule: Sun-Mon 4-6pm; Tiki Tuesday (all day!) 2pm-close; Wed-Sat 2-6pm.
On a warm day, there’s no better accompaniment to a cool drink than a sparkling blue pool. The recently refreshed Hotel Paradox, now a part of Marriott's Autograph Collection Hotels, serves poolside drinks on the chaise-lined patio of their sleek restaurant & bar Solaire. We love their Mezcal Mule, a smoky south-of-the-border take on the popular Moscow Mule. Or try their La Paloma, a tangy grapefruit-fueled drink that is sipped all throughout Mexico.
Did you know that Santa Cruz is home to the only tequila made in California? Well, it’s not officially “tequila” since, like Champagne and Cognac, tequila can't technically be labeled tequila unless it’s made in a designated place of origin. Yet the wonderfully artisan Venus Spirits produces a blue agave spirit dubbed El Ladron, or The Thief, that pays homage to its Mexican brethren. Stop by their sleek Westside tasting room to sample the exceptionally smooth spirit, available both aged and unaged.