I can't imagine the headache that the Sundown at Granada must be on weekends, because with patios like that, its Thursday through Sunday crowd must be hanging over the rooftop's railings. But for a lazy and breezy Wednesday evening, the atmosphere can't be beat. Fact: scientific research has proven that alcohol tastes better outside [not actually confirmed], and the Sundown offers two extensive patios full of clean and comfy spots for your buzz.
But you better order the right thing. Sundown has a solid beer selection -- it is technically a "beer garden," after all -- including Peticolas, which might have been my first choice. But I'd heard that the cocktails were worth a try, and though those on the "specialty" list last night were a hefty $10 each, I'm in the camp that believes a rare cocktail can be worth dropping an Alexander Hamilton, particularly if the bartender is especially attentive or clearly regards each stir as a stroke of art. The Sundown's prickly pear margarita is not that cocktail.
My granddad used to bring back handmade prickly pear jelly from an obscure roadside seller in West Texas that would make a grown woman cry. The cactus fruit has a bold flavor -- similarly fruity, if different, to say a strawberry or raspberry. So I expected a prickly pear margarita to have a bright and citrus-y flavor with a mild sour bite, reminiscent of a strawberry margarita, if distinct in its own flavor.
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It looks fruity, fruity enough to rot your teeth and make your belly hurt, in a good, but "I'll only have one" kind of way. Color-wise ... a few body parts come to mind. So we'll go with "bubblegum." Any way you slice it, you need to be secure in your sexuality to confidently climb the Sundown's wooden staircase to the rooftop patio with this drink in hand.
It's presented on the rocks, sans salt, in a Collins glass with a straw and a lime wedge on the rim. The first sip was pretty strongly tequila with a hint of lime and little more. Oh, hey. This tastes like a margarita. As the ice melted, it continued to be margarita-flavored in increments of watered-down-ness.
Don't get me wrong -- you can't hate a margarita on a patio as nice as the Sundown's rooftop. The couches are comfortable and clean; there's a killer screen projecting the Ranger's game; you can't even hear the street, just below (at least not mid-week). But I kind of feel like I could have headed up the street to Ozona and had like fifty pitchers of similarly palatable margarita for the same price.
I'm eager to try the food, which looks seriously promising, and I'll surely go back for beer and atmosphere. Because, while the buzz on Facebook and Yelp has indicated otherwise, if tonight's prickly pear margarita is a fair representation of the other cocktails' quality-to-price ratio, Sundown just can't hang with joints like The Black Swan Saloon or The Libertine.