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| Booze |

Winter Spiced Margarita at Ninfa's on Navigation

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I'm choosing to believe that my decision to try out the new drinks at Ninfa's on Navigation last week is proof positive that I am clairvoyant. How else can you explain the fact that I tried the new Winter-Spiced Margarita last week, right before it was mentioned in a post about National Margarita Day ? Exactly, there is no possible alternative.

Of course, I'd been meaning to give the new cocktail menu a try for a while. I'm an unabashed fan of what Bobby Heugel and crew do over at Anvil and was quite excited when I learned he'd be bringing a bit of his boozy know-how to bear at this venerable Houston institution.

The idea of some Tacos al Carbon and a creative cocktail made with quality ingredients is about as close to my idea of dinner heaven as you can get. I was quite curious to see what Heugel had cooked up, as the idea of educational, envelope-pushing cocktails also seems like it might be a hard sell to a crowd in search of Tex-Mex comfort.

My curiosity was sated with the aptly named Winter-Spiced Margarita. At heart, it's a classic margarita that any fan of the drink will love. It rides on a backbone of tequila and citrus, with lemony brightness and more rounded orange merging perfectly with the dark, spicy notes of the aged tequila. The drink is sweetened with a hint of maple syrup, which gives a deeper sweetness than more traditional sweeteners, adding caramel undertones that also play well with the tequila.

To warm things up and create a flavor profile that begs for cold weather, the cocktail then adds ginger and cinnamon. The cinnamon hits twice, with the cinnamon swizzle-stick adding a fragrant punch before and after the drink passes your lips. The ginger is subtle, almost not appearing until you swallow. Then, its comforting warmth and spicy flavor climb up your throat and zing across your palate.

It's a sublimely balanced drink, and it takes to boldly flavored foods quite nicely. It was perfect with the charred and beefy tacos, highlighting the rich, smoky flavor. It also went well with Ninfa's fantastic salsa verde, seeming to show more citrus notes to complement the tangy and creamy sauce.

I liked it so much I had a second, instead of trying one of the other newbies, as I'd planned. I'll just think of it as another reason to go back soon. I'm also eager to see what Heugel has in store for his next seasonal margarita, as I understand the intent is to rotate cocktails as the weather changes. Something tells me they'll be worth checking out, and we've already established that I've got some uncanny intuition.

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