Ansley Neidhardt stood behind the bar at Mas, looking through the dozens of colorful bottles. Her eyes locked on what she had been searching for, pulling a clear bottle out from the others.

“This is Corzo and it is a really good, blanco tequila,” Neidhardt explained.

“The tequila really makes all the difference,” Heather Traylor added.

The managers at Ember and Mas certainly know their stuff when it comes to mixing up libations. Now that summer has arrived, they are busy filling glasses with the unofficial drink of the season — the margarita.

Mas and Ember both offer up expansive variations on the classic drink — from the traditional to strawberry, pineapple or jalapeño. Patrons enjoy sipping the classic and variations while playing games in Mas’ newly revamped bar and game room or enjoying trivia over on the Ember side. But regardless of where one drinks their margarita, Neidhardt said they always aim to please, willing to try just about any type of margarita a customer can imagine.

“We can pretty much do anything on request. We keep a pretty broad range of ingredients,” Neidhardt said.

“That’s the good thing about using the blanco tequila,” Traylor said. “You can muddle it with all sorts of different things and it meshes well.”

Of course, both Neidhardt and Traylor have their personal preferences when it comes to favorite flavors.

“Personally, I like to use infused tequilas ... we do have an infused tequila on one of our speciality cocktail menus,” Traylor said. “But I really just like a simple lime margarita.”

“I like the aloe margarita. It’s really perfect for summer,” Neidhardt said.

The concoction blends healthful ingredients like aloe vera juice, agave nectar and a honey shrub, which helps keep those who indulge stay hydrated.

“The secret ingredient in this is aloe because it provides nutrients while the alcohol is in the system. It helps take some of that away ... the same with the the honey shrub that we use, which is just a vinegar based flavoring for cocktails. It’s like an apple cider vinegar but this is a honey vinegar,” Neidhardt said.

“The vinegar is good for the body too. So there are positive things for your body in it.”

It’s a common trait among many of the drinks at Ember and Mas. They often include healthy elements in addition to the alcohol.

“We keep it pretty simple. It’s all organic, gluten free and vegan basically,” Neidhardt said.

The simplicity and using top quality ingredients is the key to a perfect summer margarita, according to Neidhardt and Traylor. Adding too much or too many ingredients is a common pitfall.

“Some people add beer or different things ... or maybe not use a silver tequila. You want to stay away from the gold tequilas. They have the carmel coloring and added sugars,” Neidhardt said.

“But I really just think it’s important to keep it simple. You want fresh flavors, staying away from the sugary sour mixes and using lime juice instead.”

Traylor agreed

“Yeah the added sugars can make you actually feel bad. And you want to use a good quality tequila too ... that makes a huge difference,” she said.

Aloe vera margarita

Honey shrub

1 cup water

½ cup honey

½ cup white balsamic vinegar

Directions

Add equal parts of sugar and water to a saucepan, and heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the honey until it blends well into the syrup. Let the mixture cool. Add vinegar to the syrup, bottle it all up, and store in the fridge.

Ingredients

2 ounces blanco tequila

2 ounces aloe vera juice

1 ounce lime juice

1 ounce honey shrub

1/2 ounce agave nectar

1 bottle of ginger beer

Directions

In a cocktail shaker, mix the tequila, aloe, lime juice, shrub and agave nectar. Shake well. Fill a mason jar, or another suitable glass, with ice and pour the mixture over the ice.

Top the drink with ginger beer. Garnish with candied, a lime or both.

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