Drink of the week:
A Cointreau Premium Margarita with Don Eduardo Silver tequila at Salpicon
, 1252 N. Wells St., on a Friday night.
The damage: $10.25 for my pick. Choose any shot of tequila and add a dollar for a custom-made margarita.
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? My friends and I have the whole BYOB concept completely wrong. Not wanting to look like the cheap-o, each one of us brings a bottle of wine (or two) when a group of us go to a BYOB restaurant. This inevitably means that we've each downed at least a bottle before the bill comes. Come to think of it, maybe we've had it right all along.
Last Friday at Cafe Sushi in Old Town, it seemed we chased every edamame bean we sucked out of its pod with a sip of red. By the time we were through, we had determined tequila was the next logical step toward our drunken downward-spiral. To our luck, unsuspecting Salpicon was just a couple of blocks away.
How it went down: I once feared tequila for its adverse affects the morning after, but that was back in the day when I always preceded tequila consumption with a lick of my hand. Today, I've realized that the better, more expensive the tequila, the less unpleasant the hangover. With over 100 tequilas in stock, Salpicon offers plenty of high-end tequilas to upgrade your margarita. I'm no tequila pro, so I looked to the knowledgeable bartender to guide me, and he sold me on selecting Don Eduardo Silver, a smooth, crystal clear tequila.
With tequila this good, the rest of the margarita is merely an afterthought. Instead of sugary mixers, the bartender simply adds Cointreau, an orange liqueur, pours it all over ice into a short rustic glass and tops it off with a squirt of lime. The end result is a slightly sweet, refreshing drink that packs less of a bite than most margaritas.
Would I want to become a regular? After our evening of overboard BYOB, we had to walk down Salpicon's black and white checkered floor past sophisticated, linen-covered tables to pull up a stool at the small bar in the middle of the dining room. The lively, middle-aged locals go to Salpicon to dine, not to go from drunk to drunker. And, after seeing some of the beautifully presented Mexican fare coming out of the kitchen, I hope to dine there, too. My friend swears that Jalapenos Rellenos appetizerójalapenos loaded with salty Chihuahua cheese and drenched in black bean sauceówould be worth making a reservation for. And, the brightly-colored oil paintings hanging on the equally cheerful walls, would give anyone, with or without the tequila buzz, a sunny disposition.
Dana Kavan scours the city for drink deals so good you'll offer to buy a round and creative libations that outshine your average on-the-rocks concoctions. Want to give Dana tips on where to rack up a bar tab? Share your finds before her next night out.