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Where to find smokin' fresh cocktails in Vegas, just in time for National Tequila Day

Where to find smokin' fresh cocktails in Vegas, just in time for National Tequila Day
Charred pineapple, fresh pineapple juice and spice-infused tequila are the core ingredients of the Smoking Bandito, one of the signature margaritas at Bandito Latin Kitchen & Cantina in Las Vegas. (Bandito Las Vegas)

Sweet-and-sour mix is out; fresh cucumber, pineapple and watermelon are in when Las Vegas bartenders shake it up for National Tequila Day on Monday.

Sadly, it's not a federal holiday. Still, the agave fields in Mexico (the plant from which tequila is distilled) hold the honored distinction of being collectively recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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But back to Vegas' twist on tequila.

You can still order a traditional margarita if you like, but two of the city's newest restaurants have concocted creative uses for the Mexican spirit. And both are located just a mile off the Strip.

There are more than the usual number of bottles of tequila and mescal behind the bar at Bandito Latin Kitchen & Cantina in Las Vegas.
There are more than the usual number of bottles of tequila and mescal behind the bar at Bandito Latin Kitchen & Cantina in Las Vegas. (Bandito Las Vegas)

The food at Bandito Latin Kitchen & Cantina is inspired by various Latin American cultures, but the emphasis is on Mexican cuisine. That's true for the cocktails, too, with plenty of mescal and tequila behind the bar.

The Sandia, one of the featured margaritas at Bandito Latin Kitchen & Cantina, is a blend of silver tequila, watermelon liqueur and fresh watermelon.
The Sandia, one of the featured margaritas at Bandito Latin Kitchen & Cantina, is a blend of silver tequila, watermelon liqueur and fresh watermelon. (Bandito Las Vegas)

Straying from the typical margarita, Bandito offers drinks with enticing names such as the El Guapo, La Piñada El, La Paloma Blanca, Sandia and Smoking Bandito. The Smoking Bandito blends Hornitos Black Barrel Añejo tequila (with a spicy adobada infusion) with charred pineapple, fresh pineapple juice, lime and agave in a glass coated with black salt.

The restaurant, which opened in early June, is located in the Hughes Center along East Flamingo Road at Paradise Road.

Info: Bandito Latin Kitchen & Cantina, (702) 857-7550

MB Steak held its grand opening last month inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
MB Steak held its grand opening last month inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. (MB Steak)

A few blocks up Paradise, MB Steak offers another new dining and drinking experience inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

MB stands for My Brothers, specifically restaurateurs David and Michael Morton, the latest in a line of Morton men well-known for their steakhouses in Chicago and Vegas. Their newest venture had its grand opening in mid-June.

The restaurant's creative homage to tequila is its Spicy Cucumber margarita. The drink begins with Milagro Silver tequila infused with habanero and jalapeño. The heat of the peppers is cooled by the addition of fresh cucumber, lime and mint.

The bite of two hot peppers is offset by cucumber, lime and mint in the Spicy Cucumber margarita at MB Steak.
The bite of two hot peppers is offset by cucumber, lime and mint in the Spicy Cucumber margarita at MB Steak. (Jim Decker)

The two-level restaurant is reached through a tunnel entryway, and drinks are served across a leather-topped bar. A staircase takes guests to a bar and lounge one floor above.

Reservations: MB Steak, (702) 483-4888

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