The Best Margarita at Disney World – A Quest

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Margarita and ChipsDuring your Walt Disney World vacation, you may get a hankering for a tasty adult beverage. And Disney has infinite options to satisfy this craving. Thinking of a getting a good beer? Your first thought may be to pop over to Rose and Crown Pub in Epcot’s England Pavilion or perhaps Germany. Maybe a nice glass of wine? France and Italy in Epcot come to mind. And common sense says that the Mexico Pavilion should have the best margarita on property, right? Well, that’s the challenge this article will explore! A quest to find the best margarita at Disney World….

Ed.- Afternoons seem to be our slot for alcohol related articles, as we just ran Brian McNichols excellent post on bar-hopping yesterday. I’m sure this is related to the summer heat and possibly to the fact that our kids are out of school now. We’d like to welcome Lisa Gilmore to our blogging team this week.

Living in the cultured state of New Mexico, I have developed a refined palate when it comes to margaritas. Where ever you find this popular beverage, it’s usually delicious, so it becomes tricky to find that special drink with a certain je ne sais quoi to lift it above the beverage hoi polloi. As with any “best” or “favorite” topic, this subject tends to be very subjective. It becomes even more complicated when you factor in all of the different flavors and varieties of margaritas offered. Fruity or spicy? Frozen or on-the-rocks? Even though they all branch from the same beverage family tree, the variety can be like comparing apples to oranges.

With the exception of the Magic Kingdom, you can find margaritas virtually anywhere on property.

Where to find margaritas at Walt Disney World?

Resorts

Entrance to La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico Pavilion
Entrance to La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico Pavilion
  • All-Star Sports: Team Spirits
  • All-Star Music: Singing Spirits
  • All-Star Movies: Silver Screen Spirits
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo House): Uzima Springs Watering Hole
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge (Kidani Village): Maji Pool Bar
  • Animal Kingdome Lodge: Victoria Falls Lounge
  • Art of Animation: Drop Off Bar
  • Beach Club: Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar and Grill
  • Beach Club: Martha’s Vineyard Lounge
  • BoardWalk: Boardwalk Joe’s
  • BoardWalk: Leaping Horse Libations
  • BoardWalk: ESPN Club
  • Caribbean Beach: Banana Cabana
  • Contemporary/Bay Lake: Sand Bar
  • Contemporary/Bay Lake: Cove Pool Bar
  • Contemporary/Bay Lake: Outer Rim Lounge
  • Contemporary/Bay Lake: Top of the World Lounge
  • Coronado Springs: Siesta’s Cantina
  • Coronado Springs: Laguna Pool Bar
  • Fort Wilderness: Crockett’s Tavern
  • Grand Floridian: Mizner’s Lounge
  • Grand Floridian: Beaches Pool Bar & Grill
  • Grand Floridian: Courtyard Pool Bar
  • Polynesian Village: Barefoot Pool Bar
  • Polynesian Village: Luau Cove
  • Pop Century: Petal’s Poor Bar
  • Port Orleans Riverside: River Roost Lounge
  • Port Orleans French Quarter: Mardi Grogs
  • Saratoga Springs: Paddock Grill
  • Saratoga Springs: Backstretch Pool Bar
  • Saratoga Springs: On the Rocks
  • Shades of Green: Evergreens
  • Swan: Splash Terrace
  • Wilderness Lodge: Territory Lounge
  • Wilderness Lodge: Trout Pass Pool Bar
  • Yacht Club: Crew’s Cup Lounge
  • Yacht Club: Ale and Compass Lounge

Downtown Disney

  • Bongos Cuban Café
  • House of Blues
  • Paradiso 37
  • Planet Hollywood
  • Rainforest Cafe
  • Splitsville Luxury Lanes
  • T-REX

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • High Octane Refreshments
  • Hollywood Brown Derby
  • 50’s Prime Time Café/Tune In Lounge
  • Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

Epcot

  • La Cantina de San Angel
  • La Cava del Tequila
  • Margarita Stand
  • Tutto Italia Ristorante (for an “Italian Margarita”)

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Dawa Bar
  • Rainforest Café
  • Upcountry Beverages
  • Yak & Yeti Quality Beverages
  • Yak & Yeti Restaurant

Typhoon Lagoon

  • Let’s Go Slurpin’
  • Snack Shack
  • Typhoon Tilly’s

Blizzard Beach

  • Frostbite Freddy’s
  • Polar Pub

As you can see, the quest for the best margarita at Walt Disney World is no easy task! Literally hundreds of drink options at dozens of different locations could make this a bucket list endeavor.

Throughout the resorts, you’ll find repeating options like the Agave Nectar Margarita, Superfruit Margarita, Habañero-Lime Margarita, and Mango Margarita. These are the same concoction at each location with the same price. They use the same tequila, measurements and ingredients to provide consistency, so this means no matter whether you order your Mango Margarita at Team Spirits at All Star Sports or Uzima at Animal Kingdom Lodge, you’ll experience the same flavors and same dent in your wallet.

It’s also worth noting that just because a margarita isn’t listed as a menu option, that doesn’t mean the bartender can’t make one for you. But for the purposes of this quest, I stuck to just considering the restaurants, bars, and lounges that do offer a margarita on their menu.

Deciding where to begin this mission and which places to sample, took quite a bit of consideration. As much as I enjoy margaritas, there are some fundamental facts that could not be avoided:

  1. Budget: I did not have an unlimited budget. With prices ranging from $8.25-$14.50 per drink (plus tax and tip), I would have to spend my funds wisely and only sample the notable of the selection.
  2. Alcohol tolerance: Though I do have an advantage coming to Orlando from a high altitude, I am not Wonder Woman, by any means. So, to avoid making a drunken spectacle of myself, I had to limit my consumption to what I could reasonable handle and still maintain judgment of the subject at hand. After all, what’s the point in finding the best margarita if I can’t remember where I found it or what it tasted like?
  3. Hydration: This consideration could be lumped into the previous point, but I think it bares separation. Being in Orlando in June with the summer heat means quick dehydration. Add alcohol into the equation and it could easily be a recipe for a heat stroke disaster. Since I would have to balance my margarita consumption with proper amounts of water to cleanse the palate as well as maintain a healthy hydration level, this further limited the amount of this saccharine beverage I could sample.

With these limitations in mind, I did a bit of research to see what social media asserted to be the best. Over and over again, I found resounding praise for La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot. So, I knew I had to make this a stop on my voyage. Once I arrived on property, I also surveyed cast members. After all, who knows better where to find the best margarita than the people who live there? Practically unanimously, the cast members tossed their vote toward the Margarita Stand in the Mexico Pavilion. One thing was certain; I’d have to spend some time in Mexico.

My first stop was in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at The Hollywood Brown Derby. Though mostly noted for its Cobb Salad and Grapefruit cake, they’ve also recently opened the Brown Derby Lounge highlighting some of their unique beverage options. One feature that makes me an instant fan is the collection of “flight” options. Why limit yourself to one, when you can have a variety of drinks! The Brown Derby offers a martini flight, a champagne flight, a white wine flight, a red wine flight, and yes, a margarita flight!

Citizens Take Flight is a tasting of three flavored margaritas. Bucky Greenhorn – Derby Margarita; Melvin Macheezmo – Mango Margarita; Ready Freddy Fiddlesticks – Pomegranate Margarita. This sampler of half-sized margaritas (served on the rocks, not frozen) all for only $11.25.

Hollywood Brown Derby Margarita Flight
Hollywood Brown Derby Margarita Flight

The Derby margarita is the only one served with a premium tequila, Sauza. It has the classic lime flavor with just the right amount of tartness. The Sauza tequila gives it a smooth, relaxing heat. When you think of a classic margarita, this flavor combination is what comes to mind.

The Pomegranate margarita is sweet and fruity. Though it also had a salted rim, it didn’t seem to balance out the sweetness of the drink. I normally consider pomegranate to be tart, but this was drink was really quite sweet. Perhaps it could’ve used more tequila to mellow out the sugary flavor. Although, it was still really good, it was my least favorite of the three.

The Mango margarita is light and tangy. The salted rim balanced out the sweetness of the mango perfectly, and though you could taste the heat of the tequila, it wasn’t too intense or over-powering. This would be the ideal drink to sip on the beach or patio with friends.

All in all, three margarita flavors for the price of one makes this selection a winner in my book. But is it the best on property? I’d have to keep drinking to see if I could find its match!

My next stop was the Margarita Stand in the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot. I honestly didn’t have high expectations for this option. It wasn’t even on my radar for “best margarita” until so many cast members recommended it. The flavors offered at this stand change pretty regularly, so it’s worth stopping by during your trip to see if any flavors strike your fancy. The flavor that kept getting all the cast member kudos was the Fiesta Frozen margarita. This was a layered combination of lime, strawberry, and mango all stacked on each other in one large cup for $9.50.

Fiesta Frozen Margarita at the Margarita Stand in Mexico Pavilion.  Best brain freeze you'll experience!
Fiesta Frozen Margarita at the Margarita Stand in Mexico Pavilion. Best brain freeze you’ll experience!

The frozen margaritas served here are mixed in the giant rotating icy machines like you’d find at your local convenience store mixing slushies or slurpees. And that’s essentially what these margaritas are, alcoholic slushies. The Fiesta flavor combination was tasty and refreshing, but certainly not gourmet. This margarita was far from overwhelming, but I could see what some cast members might like about it, it did have three redeeming qualities:

  1. Because of its slushy texture, it was very refreshing! The flavors complimented each other well. And on a hot day, walking through Epcot, it was definitely a cooling pick-me-up.
  2. The portion size was very generous! The “bartender” not only filled the cup, but piled it up well over the brim. It was so full I had to start gulping immediately to keep from becoming a sticky mess. Best brain freeze I’ve ever had.
  3. Those puppies are potent! By the time I wandered into China, I had to be on the lookout for a snack to help fill my tummy and balance out all of the tequila.

So, although the frozen margarita from the Margarita Stand is by no means a gourmet margarita, and probably won’t win any unique flavor contests, it’s still worth trying. The price is pretty reasonable for the amount of margarita (and tequila!) you get and it’s definitely a nice treat to enjoy while exploring Epcot on a hot day. Is it the best margarita on property? Probably not, but I still have one more venue to explore!

Last stop of this venture is La Cava del Tequila. This little lounge is nestled inside the Mexico Pavilion and offers an intimate setting with low lighting and premium drinks. Averaging around $14 a drink, all of their margaritas use first-rate tequila. After a full day of walking around Epcot and sampling lots of treats from around the world, I knew I only had room for one drink, and the one that kept getting all the hype was the Avocado margarita.

Avocado Margarita from La Cava del Tequila.
Avocado Margarita from La Cava del Tequila.

I would never really consider avocados with my margaritas, unless it was in the form of guacamole, but as Joey Tribbiani would say, “avocados – good, margaritas – good,” so what’s not to love? The Avocado Margarita is made of El Mayor premium silver Tequila, melon liqueur, fresh avocado, agave nectar and fresh lime juice served frozen with a hibiscus Himalayan salt rim. This margarita is delicious, but the star of the drink was not the avocado, it was the melon liqueur. The Himalayan salt added the much needed texture and tanginess to the sweet beverage. The avocado gave the margarita a creamy, rich texture. But the overpowering flavor was definitely melon. This drink was very filling. It was practically a smoothie, which is great as far as texture and flavor, but if you plan to eat a meal either with this drink or immediately afterwards, you should plan to eat light.

Since the dominating flavor of this margarita was neither the avocado, nor the tequila, but the melon liqueur, I’d have to say that it is a very delightful drink, but doesn’t rank as the best margarita.

So, after tasting all of these delicious beverages, which one reigns supreme? Each one has its own unique flavor combinations and valuable attributes. All are worth trying and enjoying, but for this round, the winner has to be the Melvin Macheezmo – Mango Margarita at Hollywood Brown Derby. This margarita was the perfect blend of sweetness and tanginess, smooth tequila flavor and refreshing flavors.

There are so many other margaritas to be tasted! Which ones have you had? Which are your favorites? Do you dare take the challenge to try them all?!

 

Lisa Gilmore

My passion for Disney runs deep; I've got pixie dust in my veins. Everyone loves the famous Mickey Mouse, but Disney vacations host a wealth of sophisticated experiences, too. On my bucket list is to seek out and enjoy every last one of them!

11 thoughts on “The Best Margarita at Disney World – A Quest

  • June 19, 2014 at 3:49 pm
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    I’ve spent much of the last 13 years trying to perfect the margarita, which has never quite lived up to that wonderful little restaurant I went to in Cozumel (that was subsequently wiped out by a hurricane.) I’m going to be blunt, but don’t take it personally. You’re treading on my personal hobby.

    First of all, it’s Sauza, not “Suaza.” Sauza tequila is NOT premium. It’s barely drinkable swill! Common premium tequilas would be Patron, Don Julio, Herradura, Milagro. Even 1800 (now owned by that fake-tequila-maker who shall not be named) beats Sauza.

    Secondly, while specialty flavored and frozen margaritas certainly can be enjoyable and have their place, you aren’t really talking about a margarita unless you’re having a traditional lime margarita, on the rocks. While I certainly have not tried every bar in Walt Disney World, the $14 margaritas you mention at La Cava del Tequila are the only ones I’ve had there that pass my standards as “acceptable.”

    Reply
    • June 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm
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      Hi J,
      Thanks for the comments and insight! It’s always great to hear from other margarita-lovers and get different perspectives. Finding a “Best” or “Favorite” in any category is tricky since we all have our personal preferences. Which margaritas are your favorites at Walt Disney World? I’d love to add them to list to check out!

      Reply
      • June 19, 2014 at 4:11 pm
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        All Margaritas are made with Tequila Blanco, for flavor reasons. Tequilas aged in wooden barrels (the Reposado and Añejo
        tequilas) have a slightly dulled agave flavor, which makes them nicer for sipping like scotch, but rather bland to use in a Margarita.

        I had a “Classic” margarita on the rocks (their traditional one) at La Cava del Tequila, which uses El Mayor premium Tequila Blanco. It is excellent.

        Now, I said specialty flavored margaritas have their place, and I am VERY curious about that Avocado Margarita. It’s on my list of things to try next time i’m down there.

        Also, I’ll likely be staying at Coronado Springs. Has anyone tried the Margaritas at the Rix Lounge? I would be disappointed if the Mexican themed resort didn’t have at least one decent Margarita there.

        Reply
    • June 19, 2014 at 5:28 pm
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      I too am a bit of a Margarita/Tequila snob. We only serve coin-style Patron margs in my house! I too thought as I read this, “Where is Sauza considered top shelf?”
      I will say that I LOVE the different flavored margarita offerings available at La Cava. You should totally try the avocado and the blood orange. I’m planning to try ALL of them on my next trip, thankfully I’m staying at Yacht so I don’t have to worry!

      Reply
      • June 19, 2014 at 6:15 pm
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        La Cava’s menu is definitely expansive! So many creative varieties and delicious-sounding combinations – it’s difficult to choose just one! As a pineapple fan, the Pineapple Margarita is on my list to try next time. And I heard good feedback and the Jalapeno Margarita, too. With so many choices, I hope La Cava brings back their margarita flight, so you can test multiple drinks without breaking the bank (or testing your blood-alcohol level)!

        Reply
    • June 19, 2014 at 10:44 pm
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      J is absolutely correct. In fact, most of the margaritas at La Cava are in a different universe than anything else on property. My top five on property would be:
      1. Cucumber Margarita @ La Cava
      2. Jalapeno Margarita @ La Cava
      3. Burnt Orange @ Blue Zoo
      4. Mango Fire Margarita @ La Hacienda
      5. Pineapple Margarita @ La Cava
      (Note: Any frozen slushies should be automatically disqualified)

      There are also some quality margaritas at Paradiso 37. Don’t bother with anything at Rix. Finally, some of the best can found across town at Margaritaville and Antojitos in Universal’s City Walk.

      Reply
  • June 20, 2014 at 8:53 am
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    I had the margarita flight at La Cava. My favorites were/are the avocado and Jalapeno margaritas. The trio combo appetizers goes well the drinks.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm
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    Wow, first blog and people are jumping on you for not being up to snuff on your tequila! 🙂 Well, as someone who enjoys Tex-Mex and yes, frozen margaritas (frankly I prefer them), I’m glad you included them in your research. I’m not much of a connoisseur and I’ll freely admit I don’t know spit about alcohol, but I’m sure I’m not the only one. Great article!

    Reply
    • June 20, 2014 at 4:56 pm
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      Thanks for reading, Ashley! Everyone has their own favorite spin on this classic drink. The truth is, there’s no wrong answer! Some people like fruity, some like spicy, some like unique flavor combos and some prefer the taste of classic lime. The options mentioned in this review are just the tip of the iceberg. Even though I thought the Mango Margarita at Hollywood Brown Derby won this round, I’m sure there are more options out there to challenge it! I’m happy to continue this research and take tips and suggestions to continue the quest to find the best!

      Reply
    • June 26, 2014 at 10:01 am
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      I will also throw in for the frozen margs!
      Yes, I love a properly made “real” one, but I also love the frozen versions. My fav (not at WDW) is a raspberry version made with Chambord.

      And even though I considered myself a bourbon and whisk(e)y snob/enthusiast, I also love the frozen Red Stag lemonade at the American Pavilion. Yummy!

      Reply
  • June 20, 2014 at 2:24 pm
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    All of the margaritas at La Cava have gone downhill now that they are not made fresh. However, the cucumber margarita there is still my favorite even over the very popular avocado margarita. It’s so refreshing on a hot day and the cucumber makes it feel almost healthy! 😉

    Reply

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