This thing you should try: Fuego’s habanero-infused Mala Suerte margarita

November 5, 2013
Clarendon's Fuego offers more than 100 kinds of tequila and mezcal. At happy hour, a selection of margaritas sell for $5 each. (Photo by Scott Suchman)
Clarendon's Fuego offers more than 100 kinds of tequila and mezcal. At happy hour, a selection of margaritas sell for $5 each. (Photo by Scott Suchman)

Clarendon's Fuego Cocina y Tequileria has expanded its happy hour cocktail menu, giving margarita fans -- and those looking for a cheap drink after work –- another reason to stop in.

The menu had been short and rather drab: Choose from a "traditional" but boring margarita or three different frozen margaritas for $5 each, or get any draft beer (Dos Equis, Pacifico, Shiner, DC Brau) for the same price. I was sometimes more interested in the free chips and salsa than I was in the drinks.

But now there are more margaritas to choose from in the $5 category, including light and bright "seasonal fruit" options made with fresh strawberries or a cranberry-and-cherry puree, and the "Mezcal Mula," a Moscow Mule variation that mixes lime and ginger beer with earthy Monte Alban mezcal instead of vodka.

The winner, though, is the Mala Suerte, a fiery margarita that gets its flavor from habanero-infused Hornitos Reposado. The tequila is sharp and peppery on its own, but this drink has a serious burn to it. I asked the bartender about the intensity of the infusion, and he held up a bottle of tequila with hot peppers floating in the bottom; the bottle was about one-quarter full, which could mean the capsaicin was more concentrated than usual in the tequila I tried. Mixed with just grapefruit and lime juice, this is not a drink for the timid. The only thing I could have done without was the sugar rim on the coupe, which doesn't do much for the heat.

Happy hour is offered in the bar from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. Tonight is the perfect time to check it out: Taco Tuesday means tacos are $5 a pair from 4 to 7 p.m. Go for the spicy lengua (beef tongue) with habanero salsa, or the hot chorizo topped with creamy queso fresco, and you've got a pre-dinner snack with plenty of kick.

Fuego Cocina y Tequileria, 2800 Clarendon Blvd. (Metro: Clarendon) 571-970-2180.  


At Fuego's Tuesday taco night, tacos are $5 per pair from 4 to 7 p.m. (Photo by Scott Suchman)
Fritz Hahn has written about bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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