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.