Neon lights and old paintings of matadors and señoritas with fans decorate the walls of El Meson [2425 University Boulevard, (713)522-9306] in the Rice Village. The menu says it's a Cuban restaurant, but the place serves tortilla chips and a bowl of warm hot sauce when you sit down. There's a large Tex-Mex section on the menu, too. I asked bartender Rosario Bermudez in Spanish if he was Cuban. He laughed. He said he grew up on an avocado farm in Michoacán. There were a lot of wines on display, and behind the bar I noted a selection of expensive single malt Scotches along with a margarita machine. Evidently Tex-Mex felt a little underdressed in the Village.
El Meson's Orange Margarita: The sign on the margarita machine says, "Upgrade your margarita with Grand Marnier." I wondered how Bermudez could upgrade the already frozen drinks. It was easy. He added a "floater" shot of orange liqueur and, at my request, a slice of orange. The result was this tasty orange rita that can be made by adding an extra shot of Grand Marnier or Cointreau to a finished margarita.
3 shots tequila
2 shots Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1/4 cup (3 heaping tablespoons) frozen limeade concentrate
1 1/2 cups crushed ice
1 shot orange juice
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Combine tequila, 1 shot of Grand Marnier or Cointreau, limeade concentrate and crushed ice in a blender and puree until slushy. Pour the slush into a large margarita glass, then pour the other shot of Grand Marnier or Cointreau and the orange juice over the top. Garnish by floating the orange slice on top. Yields one large margarita.