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Lime Fever

The sipping point: Whether wasting away solo or on a cheap date, walk a straight line to one of our favorite margarita bars, and you won't freeze your assets.

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Laphroaig single-malt it ain't, but . . . since two sips of a frozen cocktail make your tongue numb, we say why be snobby about quality? Looking to maximize booze for your buck, "S&B" cut a swath across Manhattan in search of the best-tasting -- and cheapest -- frozen margaritas. We left quite a few empty glasses in our wake -- and now, as self-taught sommeliers of lime-and-tequila frosties (incidentally, a warning: Swishing inside your mouth to catch the subtleties of the flavor invariably induces a blinding cold headache), we've narrowed the list to six favorite spots where you'll get a generous serving and change back from a $10 bill.

At Zarela, it's drinker beware: Each of the surprisingly yummy, chalice-size drinks contains a generous amount of white tequila ($8.50 -- this may not sound cheap, but these babies pack a whopping ten ounces). If you can hold out until August 8th (when it re-opens after summer break), Los Dos Molinos (pictured, $8.25) serves a similar deal. The East Village's Miracle Grill has a drinks terrace overlooking the garden in the back, and delicious regular, watermelon, blood-orange, and guava margaritas for $7.75. Benny's Burritos uses fresh lemon and lime in the twelve-ouncers ($6.50; $9.50 for twenty ounces); at the Greenwich Avenue location, you can people-watch outside as you sip. Or make an early pit stop at Panchito's for a $5.95 sidewalk-side margarita (a word of caution: Be out of here before the bridge-and-tunnel crowd descends at sunset). Too far south of your border? Uptown, Zocalo serves up high-quality tequila from Mexico, and on Monday nights its $8 frozen margies are two for the price of one. Tequila!

Zarela, 953 Second Ave., near 51st St. (212-644-6740); Los Dos Molinos, 119 East 18th St. (212-505-1574); Miracle Grill, 112 First Ave. (212-254-2353), or Miracle Bar & Grill, 415 Bleecker St. (212-924-1900); Benny's Burritos, 113 Greenwich Ave. (212-727-0584); Zocalo, 174 E. 82nd St. (212-717-7772); Panchito's, 103 MacDougal St. (212-473-5239).

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