Enjoy some beachy vibes or an evening with friends with this refreshing, perfectly balanced margarita.
When I came home from college, my parents surprised me with an awesome family trip to Cancun, Mexico. The beaches were amazing, and the sunsets surreal. But what I remember most is the swim-up bar and my first margarita. That perfect blend of tequila, lime juice, and a hint of Cointreau hooked me on the first sip. And now it’s my go-to drink for a night with friends or a poolside afternoon. It’s also the perfect companion for fish tacos or this chicken quesadilla.
I won’t tell you how long it’s been since that first taste, but I will share that I’ve been on an epic quest to find the perfect margarita recipe at home. With these easy-to-follow instructions, I found the answer.
One of the beauty of the Margarita is that is is so easy to customize. Add some jalapenos and you will have a fiery Spicy Margarita. Add watermelon and you will get a sweet and refreshing drink, perfect for any barbecue. The Cadillac Margarita is a a luxurious variation with Grand Marnier. But, before exploring these exciting variations, it’s essential to understand the balance and simplicity of the classic margarita.
Why You Will Love This Cocktail Recipe
There’s a reason why margaritas are among the most popular drinks served at the bar. The tart lime accents, the earthiness of the tequila blend together beautifully, and the liqueur offers a hint of sweetness. This recipe is a guaranteed no-fail, making margaritas so tasty you don’t even need the fancy glass to enjoy!
- A margarita or rocks glass
- A cocktail shaker
- A strainer (if not incorporated in the shaker)
- A citrus juicer for fresh lime juice extraction
- A jigger for accurate measurement of liquids
- Optional: a dish for holding the salt used to garnish the rim of the glass
- 2 oz of silver or blanco tequila
- 1 oz of Cointreau or Grand Marnier or any Triple Sec
- 1 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice
- Salt to rim the glass optional
- Lime wedges to garnish optional
- Prep the glass by rubbing a lime wedge around the rim of a cold margarita or rocks glass, then dip the rim in a shallow dish filled with salt.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then mix in the tequila, triple sec, and lime juice.
- Vigorously shake the ingredients together until the shaker feels chilled, which should take around 15-20 seconds.
- Pour the mixture through a strainer into the salt-rimmed glass with ice.
- Add an optional lime wedge as garnish.
Tips & Tricks For a Perfect Margarita
Always opt for high-quality tequila (100% agave is a great choice), a reputable orange liqueur, and fresh limes. Remember: the drink is only as good as what goes into it.
The perfect margarita hinges on a balance between the ingredients. For best results, follow the classic proportion of 2:1:1 (2 parts tequila to 1 part triple sec to 1 part lime juice).
Follow the advice of James Bond and drink your margarita shaken, not stirred. Shaking not only mixes the ingredients better but enhances the overall taste by introducing a small amount of dilution from the ice.
Whether or not you have a traditional margarita glass, presentation still matters. Chill your glass for a few minutes before you pour in the drink. And don’t forget the salted rim!
A typical margarita has about 200 to 300 calories, but given the abundance of flavors, you might consider it a workout for the taste buds. If you’re counting calories, you can tweak the type of tequila and liqueur to make it a bit healthier.
While a cocktail shaker is the easiest way to make a perfect margarita, a regular glass and spoon will work. Simply stir the ingredients directly in the glass, and if possible, give it a shake with some ice.
A blanco or silver tequila is the go-to for a classic margarita. But feel free to experiment with reposado (rested) or anejo (aged) tequila. Yum!
I don’t recommend it. Bottled limeades or lemonades are often overly sweet and will wreak havoc with the flavors and won’t result in a balanced cocktail.
Margarita Variations Worth Trying
- The Spicy Margarita: This spicy spinoff adds a generous slice of jalapeño to the classic recipe, appealing to those who appreciate a bit of heat.
- The Watermelon Margarita: A summer favorite, this vibrant variation adds fresh or frozen strawberries for a fruity twist. You might also consider adding some mango or strawberry!
- The Cadillac Margarita: This luxurious variant incorporates premium silver tequila and Grand Marnier into the traditional blend.
- The Tommy’s Margarita: A true classic in its own right, Tommy’s Margarita replaces triple sec with organic agave nectar for a smoother, more natural sweetness.
- The Low-carb Margarita: For health-conscious cocktail lovers, substitute triple sec with a sugar-free orange extract and a dash of calorie-free sweetener.
- The Margarita Mocktail: Perfect for non-drinkers, this alcohol-free version replaces the tequila with a non-alcoholic spirit, typically containing a blend of agave, lime, and other flavors that mimic the original.
How to Store
If you need to class up your next party and you need to make things easier for yourself, don’t stress it. Just make a pitcher before the party, mix up a fresh one during the evening, or pull out the chilled leftovers. You have lots of options for prepping and storing this cocktail. To prepare beforehand, mix the tequila, triple sec, and lime juice in a pitcher and place it in the fridge. Add ice and shake just before serving.
In the unlikely event some of your margarita is left over, scoop out any ice and stash the rest in a sealed container or a bottle with a top. It will keep for a few days in the fridge. Give it a good shake before pouring it for your next indulgence.