Where to Raise a Summer Margarita in L.A.

A margarita from Red O

In honor of National Tequila Day, THR breaks down where to raise a glass.

Check out these six spots to sip margaritas in L.A., including where the likes of Zoe Saldana and Sandra Bullock have been, and the lounge where the Weinstein Company leased out space for a private event.

Red O
8155 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 655-5009

Deemed one of 2010’s Best New Restaurants for Best Design by Esquire, Red O marries Mexican cuisine with Southern California style. Chef Rick Bayless’ first venture outside of Chicago, Red O employs dark wood, high ceilings and dining courtyards for an open yet dramatic dining experience.

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But the restaurant’s most distinctive feature is its glass tequila tunnel, showcasing a collection of high-quality spirits as it winds from the dining room to its lounge. Patrons – who have included Edie Falco, Zoe Saldana and Sandra Bullock -- are welcome to plush seating beneath palm trees or stools at the bar, where curved walnut shelves echo the appearance of wine barrels.

Red O boasts an extensive collection, ranging the gamut from the sweet Fortaleza at $15 to the aged Clase Azul Ultra at $185.

The Margarita: Red O goes all in with The Benjamin, a $100 cocktail made with three extra anejo tequilas (Patron Burdelos, Herradura Selection Suprema and Partida Elegante), Gran Marnier, fresh Mexican lime and agave syrup. The concoction is poured over lime sorbet ice cubes and served with an edible gold and kosher salt rim.

1050 S. Flower St. #102
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 749-1460

In the heart of downtown L.A. sits chef John Rivera Sedlar’s Rivera a short walk from L.A. Live and the Staples Center. A showcase for the chef’s signature Latin cuisine and French technique, Rivera makes for a high-end evening of tapas and appetizers, a full-course meal, and everything else in between.

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As a spokesperson for Patron Tequila, Sedlar knows tequila well. One bar area features eight “tequila chairs” done in bronze and leather to complement Rivera’s dark decor -- courtesy of designer and co-owner Eddie Sotto once worked at Walt Disney Imagineering as svp of concept design. The perches are dedicated to sampling the restaurant’s rotating selection of seasonal tequilas. Rivera also offers its own house super anejo tequila along with private “tequila lockers” for guests to keep their own bottles under lock and key for safekeeping between visits. The spot was a favorite of director Chris Weitz when he filmed his 2011 film A Better Life. "It's got fantastic, fantastic food and they also have probably the best selection of tequilas in L.A."

Rivera's margarita, Rivera's Cup, features Blanco tequila, cucumber, lime and salt.

Las Perlas
107 E. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 988-8355

You won’t find anything so corny as worms in the bottoms of bottles at Las Perlas, one of nightlife proprietor 213 Nightlife’s 11 cocktail bars in downtown L.A. A connoisseur’s refuge, the establishment – located in the historic 1907 Beaux Arts-style Santa Fe Building -- serves more than 100 different tequilas and smoky mescals from behind a bar lit in festive yellow. Its finest spirits are best sipped from signature clay cups.

The Margarita: The 6th and Main, Las Perlas’ version of the Cadillac Margarita, is done with Siete Leguas Reposado, fresh lime juice, agave nectar and a side of Gran Marnier.

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El Carmen
8138 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 852-1552

First opened as a family-run Mexican restaurant in 1927, it was reopened in its present glam-meets-dive incarnation in 1995, complete with red velvet curtains and Mexican wrestler oil paintings. It’s jammed during Monday through Friday happy hours from 5 pm to 7 pm when its classic Margaritas go for $5. El Carmen offers a list of over 400 tequilas and mezcals that even Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio found impressive when he stopped in and enjoyed a shot of Tonala Reposado.

The Margarita: El Carmen keeps supplies of blood orange, mango, pomegranate, cactus, watermelon and guava on hand for fresh-fruit margaritas ($10).

La Velvet Margarita Cantina
1612 N Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 469-2000

At Mexi-Goth bar Velvet Margarita, the decor runs the gamut from 80s rock and roll to Dia de Los Muertos. There’s a party hard atmosphere at this fixture on the Cahuenga nightlife corridor. 

The Platinum Velvet Margarita consists of Don Julio 1942 tequila and a special blend of fresh fruit for $30.

DeLeón Tequila
8700 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90069

On the corner of San Vicente and Melrose Avenues, in the shadow of the Pacific Design Center, is a curious smoked glass and concrete building which looks for all the world like a club on a dark Monday night. In large letters the words DeLeon are lit above the door. “It is a little mysterious,” admits DeLeon evp Courtney Carroll. “People show up knocking at the door and want to know ‘what is this?’ ”

DeLeón isn’t a bar or club, or a place to get a drink, at least in the usual sense. No, it’s a showroom -- the way cars and furniture makers have showrooms -- for former mortgage banker Brent Hocking’s luxury tequila brand.

Naturally, a tequila showroom will be dark and burnished. It will have rock-and-roll photographs on the wall (taken mostly from events the brand has sponsored over the years) and concert footage too. It will have a filigreed chandelier, an ornatelycarved bar and a candlelit patio. And it will have snifters at the ready for one of their five different tequila bottlings, ranging in price from $125 to $825 a bottle: a blanco they call Diamante, an anejo, an extra anejo, and a suave reserve called Leona, so polished it might pass for Cognac.

Though the corporate offices are upstairs, it has the look and feel of a lounge, one that’s available for private parties and events -- an almost weekly occurrence, according to Carroll; both the Weinstein Company and Diana Ross have leased the space for events in the last year.