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In the pink: Dos Caminos' prickly-pear margarita is a smooth summer sensation.Photo: Kenneth Chen

Rocking Horse
182 Eighth Avenue, near 20th Street (212-463-9511)
PROS: Classy presentation: The straight-up margarita ($10)—smooth and tasty, made with fresh lime—is poured at your table into a wide glass. The frozen mango-raspberry version ($11) has a festive Caribbean vibe and melts into a swirl of the fresh fruit garnish as you drink. Order another and skip dessert.
CONS: The place is geared toward diners (our waiter painstakingly described every dish on the menu, even though we weren’t going to eat). Few outdoor tables.
RATING: Three stars

Rosa Mexicano
1063 First Avenue, at 58th Street (212-753-7407), and 61 Columbus Avenue, at 62nd Street (212-977-7700)
PROS: A friend swears the $9 pomegranate margaritas here are an aphrodisiac: “Every time I have one, I have sex afterwards.” That probably has more to do with the fratty bar scene than the pink drinks, which are small and a tad weak. That said, they taste pretty good for stuff that comes out of a machine.
CONS: The bars at both restaurants are always seriously crowded with singles, and you can’t get a table if you aren’t eating dinner.
RATING: Two stars

Dos Caminos SoHo
475 West Broadway (212-277-4300)
PROS: With the more than 100 tequilas here ($9 to $33 per drink), plus loads of flavored margaritas, you could spend an entire afternoon—hell, the entire summer—sunbathing and sampling. The just-sweet-enough prickly-pear margarita ($9) is a winner, made with pear, citrus, and grenadine. The patio is huge, and the crowd is cool.
CONS: Steer clear of the passion-fruit margarita, which one tester compared to Tang: “Something I’d order at Club Med.”
RATING: Five stars

Miracle Grill
112 First Avenue (212-254-2353)
PROS: The shaded backyard terrace is the perfect place to kick back with a cocktail after work. The frozen drinks ($8.50), all made with fresh fruit, are well balanced, with just the right combination of sweet and tart. Exotic versions (blood orange, guava) are as good as the original. Appetizers from the New Mexican menu are terrific.
CONS: The on-the-rocks margarita was a little strong for our tastes, but that may not be a bad thing.
RATING: Five stars

El Teddy’s
219 West Broadway (212-941-7071)
PROS: This place may look like the Disneyland of Mexican restaurants, but it has surprisingly good drinks. The traditional house margarita ($8), made with Sauza tequila, triple sec, and fresh lime juice, is heaven on a sweltering summer night. And the cocktail shaker stays at your table, so there are no wasted dregs.
CONS: The food’s good but pricey. Tourists tend to snag tables early and linger annoyingly, taking pictures of the Statue of Liberty atop the building. Scant outdoor seating.
RATING: Three stars

953 Second Avenue, at 50th Street (212-644-6740)
PROS: The classic margarita here is a purist’s dream: Just fresh lime juice, tequila, and triple sec in a giant glass ($7.75). Flavored, frozen versions ($9.75) are made with real fruit, but don’t hold their own against the potent, sinfully honest original. “You can’t ask for a better margarita,” says a friend. “They don’t overdo it with the salt, and it’s not too sour.” And you can usually score a table at the bar.
CONS: The bar is crammed with very drunk people on weeknights, so it’s best in the late afternoon.
RATING: Four stars

Insider Advice
Ordering tips from John Varriano, bartender at The Four Seasons restaurant1. Choose a top tequila, like Cuervo Reserva. It’s worth splurging a little.

2. Ask for Cointreau instead of triple sec, and only fresh lime juice (no Rose’s!).

3. Opt for salt on the glass, to balance the sweetness.

4. Wide-mouth margarita glasses are the best. “It’s the proper way,” says Varriano.

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