Some restaurants you remember because of their drinks. Others you remember because of the bartender. Cactus in Madison Park - where a friend celebrated his birthday last Tuesday night - earns the distinction of being memorable for both.
Realizing too late that Madison Street extends well beyond the boundaries of Capitol Hill, I was embarrassingly late to the birthday party. This meant a whole lot of apologizing, and more importantly, getting a late start on what was promised to be a tequila-infused party at a family restaurant, which according to one of my friends should be, "Bravo's next housewives reality show."
Although the tequila menu at Cactus is quite extensive, I didn't even take the time to glance over it. I had some catching up to do, so I randomly picked the first drink on the menu: The Liquid Oaxaca. The bartender, Allison, casually informed me: "it's supposed to be strong," and that was good enough for me.
The Liquid Oaxaca is a vodka drink shaken with fresh juices and little bit of Silver tequila. Delightfully strong and tasty, yes, but I'm still not sure about the cilantro added to the mix. To be honest, it tasted a little like cold Vietnamese Pho soup with a breath of alcohol. But if you're a fan of the Than Brothers - or vodka - the $ 7 Liquid Oaxaca could be worth the money.
Trying to avoid another cilantro disaster, I let Allison pick my next drink. I like it when you throw something as vague as, "I need something interesting with tequila," at the bartenders, and they reply with an "I gotcha".
Well, Allison got me the Guilt-Free Margarita - or Partida Agave, as it's officially known. Instead of white sugar, this margarita has agave nectar and lime juice, keeping it low on calories. It is sometimes also referred to as an organic or a fat-free margarita, but the real value here isn't low calories. The agave nectar taste more like honey than sugar, which means that, overall, the Guilt-free Margarita is less sweet than the regular one. I certainly enjoyed it--specially as a chaser for the Liquid Oaxaca cilantro madness.