Versus: Gimme Summer That!

Sometimes it's too hot to do anything but drink margaritas.

The Drink: There's just something about a margarita on a hot day. Arguably the most popular summer drink, this refreshing cocktail is a combination of citrus and tequila with a hint of salt. Now that our weather has begun to reflect the season (finally), we want to let you know where to run for some inner shade. So, whose 'rita beats the heat as well as its competition?The Rivals: Barrio, 1420 12th Ave., 588-8105. It's not often you find a margarita this full of life and flavor. Barrio's version, simply labeled "margarita" on the menu, is a $9 concoction of El Jimador Reposado tequila, lime, agave nectar, and Quady Essensia. Don't recognize that last ingredient? It's not something you often find in a margarita. Essensia is a moderately sweet dessert wine made from orange muscat grapes, produced by Quady Winery in Madera, Calif. This margarita works best if you take in some salt with your sips and let the ice cubes melt a bit before knocking it back.La Carta de Oaxaca, 5431 Ballard Ave. N.W., 782-8722. You can't go wrong with the margaritas at La Carta, especially if you like citrus. The Margarita Sauza ($8) is a refreshing mix of Sauza Silver tequila, triple sec, lime, and sour. Those last two ingredients sort of overpower this margarita. Not that it's bad, it just made us pucker more than we wanted to. More balanced ingredients would do the trick.The Champ: Kudos to bartenders at both Barrio and La Carta de Oaxaca for being bold enough to let the liquor do the talking. Often margaritas can go from hot quencher to hot mess with too much mixer and lime. Both Barrio and La Carta use a good amount of tequila in their margaritas, which made us feel like we were actually drinking an adult beverage rather than Kool-Aid. Barrio's margarita takes this match, simply because it's more complex and the flavors really shine through. And who couldn't use a little more shine in Seattle?

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