They came. They saw. They drank.
The 31st annual 99.5 KISS Margarita Pour Off is now history. Thousands packed into the Sunken Garden Theater for samples of margaritas from restaurants, bars and gentlemen’s clubs in the area, plus live music and a gorgeous day after the recent rains.
For those who needed a little something to eat to balance out the margaritas, vendors were happy to supply fajitas, gorditas, corn dogs, turkey legs, hamburgers and chicken on a stick — not to mention deep-fried Twinkies.
While the throngs were enjoying themselves, a trio of judges were slaving away over five finalists for grand champion. Germán González, master distiller of Tequila Uno, Bert Gallagher Jr., co-founder of Hudson Ferus Vodka, and I were asked to take up the the hard labor of sampling each of the five and sampling them again, so that we could judge them on the basis of taste and appearance.
Garnishes were big this year, with one boasting a kiwi slice, another appeared with a cucumber sliver and a third boasted both a strawberry and a jalapeño. All were rimmed with salt flavored with lime and chile, adding a layer of enjoyment to the drinks.
In the end, we gave the top award to Matamoros Restaurante y Cantina, 12844 I-10 W. On the restaurant’s web site, they say the version that won is called the Top Shelf, and it’s made with “100% Agave Partida Reposado Tequila, Gran Gala Italian liqueur and Lime Juice.” Matamoros also won the award for best decorated booth.
The people’s choice winner was the River Restaurants, a consortium of River Walk eateries that include Michelino’s, Lone Star Cafe and Cafe Olé. The judges’ runner-up was the D Spot, 6322 San Pedro Ave.