Serious Eats: Drinks
Cheap Buzz: Applebee's Infamous Margaritas
Want to get messed up? Head to Applebee's. This kid only had the apple juice, and blew a 0.10. And he didn't even finish his sippy cup. "Wow," I said to myself after reading that in the news; "That's the greatest thing since Four Loko. I need to get on that bandwagon!"
As a kid, I'd always ordered the riblets and a Cherry Coke at Applebee's. (Had I known then what I know now, I probably would have been pounding apple juice.) This time, now that I'm an adult (and a chain restaurant aficionado), it's all about their infamous margaritas. And there were plenty to choose from; we tried the Perfect Margarita, the Patron Perfect Margarita, the SkinnyBee Margarita, and the Main Street Rita.
The SkinnyBee Margarita, made with a sugar-free mix, is reasonably lime-y but with a distinct artificial aftertaste; despite the Hornitos tequila the menu claims, it's basically diluted lime and aspartame.
Drinkability: Like a glass of water, but with an unpleasant aftertaste.
But my faith in Applebee's returned with the Perfect Margarita. It's made with 1800 Reposado tequila, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier with their buzz-a-baby Perfect Margarita mix. Three virtues: it's tart, it's strong, and it's ample. Waiters serve an empty glass with a lime at the bottom, and pour the drink tableside out of a cocktail shaker. (On our first visit, the salt-rimmed glass had an olive instead of a lime. Oops?) They leave the shaker, which contains at least another full drink. From the first sip, I was pretty impressed. Citrusy, acidic, and strong, it wasn't too fruity or sugary.
Drinkability: Drink the rest? Don't mind if I do!
For comparison's sake, we also ordered the Patron Perfect Margarita, made with Patron Silver tequila, Patron Citronge, and margarita mix. Like its cousin, it's a powerful cocktail; if you don't like strong cocktails, stick to the apple juice, because the Patron Perfect is so boozy it borders on unbalanced. It's not a refined cocktail, but I still loved it. For once, a chain served me a stiff drink.
Drinkability: Professionals only; others, beware.
More typical of this sort of chain was the Main Street Rita, a frozen margarita with Sauza Gold in strawberry-mango or wildberry-mango flavors. Though again, not too light on the booze, this one was far too sweet, and reminded me of the smoothies with a drop of liquor that Red Lobster served me. I'd shy away from this one.
Drinkability: Strong enough, but cloying.
The Hangover Report
Applebee's is a Cheap Buzzer's paradise; I was so loopy at the end of my visits, I could barely put my credit card back in my wallet.
Frankly, they ought to strip the whole drink menu down to the Perfect Margaritas, and launch an ad campaign: "Applebees, Our Margaritas Get You Drunk." I'm excited that there's one within walking distance of my apartment.