Matador Cocktail Recipe

Popular for close to 90 years, the Matador is one delicious cocktail that will never go out of style.

Matador Cocktail Recipe featured image top shot

The Matador is one of those drinks that reminds of a time I never knew. My imagination begins to conjure up images of long sea voyages and steamer trunks, train rides and chilled bottles of champagne. Maybe a little mystery and intrigue thrown in to keep things exciting. With every sip I fantasize about meeting up with old writer chums, playing baccarat and being told of the latest trend in cocktails that I absolutely must try. “I say, have you heard of this libation called tequila?”

In 1930s England, tequila was a new import and just beginning to gain popularity. By 1937, several drinks featuring this new, exotic spirit were featured in the Cafe Royale Cocktail Book, one of them being the first recorded recipe for the Matador. That concoction was a mixture of tequila, orange liqueur and dry vermouth. The version we’re looking at today is a little different.

By the 1970’s, legendary Tiki bar owner Trader Vic had crafted his own version of the cocktail for his famous chain of establishments. This recipe nixed the liqueur and vermouth and added both lime and pineapple juice, giving the drink a more tropical flair. This particular mixture had been documented as early as 1962 in a Jose Cuervo booklet, but most mixologists and bartenders agree that ol’ Vic kept the Matador from disappearing into history. I’ll drink to that.

What is the best tequila to use in a Matador?

This drink is such a simple and easy one to put together that you can pull out a few different types of tequila and have some fun with it. I personally like to use Blanco tequila as it sips nicely, it mixes nicely and doesn’t overwhelm or disappear into whatever I’m making. It also smooths out the tart sweetness of the pineapple and lime combination. For something more complex and robust, give a good reposado or anejo tequila a go, something that’s been aged and has some extra character to it. And for a little smokiness, try mezcal too.

Matador Cocktail Recipe ingredients top shot
Servings 1
5 minutes


  • 1 1/2 ounces of tequila
  • 1 1/2 ounces of pineapple juice
  • 1/2 ounce of lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce of simple syrup


  • Put all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
  • Fill the shaker with ice and give it a good shake for about 15-20 seconds.
  • Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass.


Calories: 162kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 82mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 9IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg

FAQs & Tips

Similar drinks to the Matador Cocktail

Tiki, tequila, and Twist and Toast go well together, especially when you want to try out a new drink for a party or just a weekend at home. If you liked the Matador, give these other delicious cocktails a try:

  • Tia Mia – I explore the origins and flavors of this mezcal and rum based riff on the Mai Tai.
  • Tequila Old Fashioned – Tequila proves itself a worthy substitute for rye or bourbon in this version of the legendary drink.
  • Blue Margarita – Another Tiki favorite that hails from Southern California, this bright blue baby is the perfect poolside sipper.
  • Tequila Sunrise – Learn to make the perfect version of this popular classic for the ultimate summer treat.

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