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Raspberry Margarita 

Tejas, 44 North Brentwood Boulevard, Clayton, 314-862-1414

Tejas is a Tex-Mex place in Clayton, and we'll leave it at that: a simple acknowledgement that Clayton Tex-Mex is indeed an oxymoron, at least on paper. Yes, perhaps there's a bit too much of a City Slickers vibe to Tejas, but what are you gonna do? You can take the Clayton out of Tejas, but you can't take the Tejas out of Clayton. As such, the joint is upscale in a down-home way, with a perfectly coifed rusticity.

The centerpiece of Tejas' bar décor is a grand mural. It depicts eleven homosexual banditos in tight pants sitting around a campfire telling stories of sexual conquests on the range. (We're kidding. Because it's a mural, we can't tell what these hot Villa People are talking about, but one of them is most definitely scoping another dude's package.) Oddly, none of the banditos are smoking, although a few are obviously jonesin' for a smoke; you can see it in their eyes. Somebody's going to get their head kicked in tonight.

What a cup of hot chocolate is to a January night, a margarita is to a July evening: a beverage that perfectly complements the environment. Tejas makes a mean margarita of many varieties, each distinctive in its own way. Yes, purists may scoff at concoctions such as a green apple margarita or a mango margarita, but do not scoff at the raspberry margarita, which is a glory to behold.

Of all the white distillates, tequila, we submit, is the most dangerous and the most exquisite. Taken as a shot, it arrives as a furious epiphany, one with a glorious, smoky echo on the back end. The rise of tequila as a sipping drink in the past decade has transformed the once-lowly liquor into an experience akin to enjoying a nice single-malt or an earthy sangiovese.

Tequila is made from the agave plant, a succulent. The sap milked from the heart of the agave plant is distilled, sometimes as often as three times, and from these wonderful origins arrives a drink that will give even the drunkest drunk spiral eyes and steamy ears.

The essence of a margarita lies in the tension among sour, a touch of sweet, and twang. In your basic margarita, the sour arrives via the lime juice, the sweet in the Cointreau or triple sec and the twang in the tequila. In a perfect margarita, these three ingredients orbit each other like the earth, sun and moon. They are perfectly aligned, perfectly synchronized, but each has its own path in the bigger galaxy. The raspberry margarita adds Mars to the mix, the distinctive red of said berry, another layer of complexity, one that verges on overpowering all else in the glass but manages to stay right on the cusp, where it should be.

Is the raspberry version superior to the standard? We're biased. We adore raspberry so much that we'd eat a bowl of worms were it augmented with the little sour bud. So, yes, it is better. It will turn your evening on its ass, will make the sunset glow, will make the galaxy erupt like an interstellar standing ovation.

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