Margarita Cocktail

Margarita Cocktail

The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Serving: 1 serving
  • Yield: 1 cocktail

The original margarita is one of the easiest cocktails you can make from scratch. You'll love the refreshing lime flavor backed by your favorite tequila, and this classic recipe inspired every other margarita in the world.

There is no mystery to this iconic drink, and the secret to a great margarita is its simplicity. The only ingredients you need are tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. Once you find an ideal balance of flavor, you'll realize just how delicious a fresh margarita is and why it's hard to justify buying a bottled margarita mix.

A margarita glass is not required, and there are three main ways to serve a margarita: straight up, on the rocks, or frozen. You can also rim the glass with salt or sugar or leave it bare. The variations don't stop there. Whether you want to mix up a mason jar margarita or add flavor, there's a margarita recipe for every taste and occasion.

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Click Play to See This Classic Margarita Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce triple sec (Cointreau)
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice (fresh)
  • Garnish: lime wedge
  • Optional: salt or sugar for rimming

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for margarita cockail recipe
    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  2. If desired, rim a chilled cocktail or margarita glass: Wet the rim with a lime wedge, then dip or roll it in a small dish of salt or sugar.

  3. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes.

    Ice in shaker
    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  4. Shake well.

    Shake
    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic 
  5. Strain into the prepared glass with or without fresh ice.

    Margarita poured into glass
    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  6. Garnish with a lime wedge. Serve and enjoy!

    Margarita cocktail
    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

Tips

  • Choosing quality liquors is essential to a superior margarita. Tequila is the main ingredient and a cheap, low-quality tequila will only bring the drink down. Pick up a medium- to high-end blanco or reposado tequila and a premium triple sec, such as Cointreau, for this cocktail.
  • Likewise, you'll get a better margarita with fresh-squeezed lime juice. The average lime yields about 1 ounce of juice, which is about perfect for this recipe.

Recipe Variations

  • If you prefer a tart margarita, pour equal amounts of triple sec and lime juice or try 1 ounce of lime juice and 1/2 ounce of triple sec.
  • To make it a little sweeter, add about 2 teaspoons of simple syrup or agave nectar.
  • For a simple twist, try a blue margarita. The recipe simply substitutes blue curaçao for the triple sec to create a stunning drink with the same flavor.
  • When you're ready to add flavor, there are many fruity margarita recipes to choose from. Apple, strawberry, and watermelon are favorites, though almost any fruit works and most can be either shaken or blended.
  • You can also enjoy the more uniquely flavored margaritas. Coconut, chocolate, and tamarind are just a few variations that are as fun to make as they are to drink.
  • Not a fan of tequila? Pour a shot of vodka instead and you'll have a vodkarita (essentially the same as a kamikaze cocktail).

A Mason Jar Margarita

Margaritas
The Spruce / Claire Cohen 

It has become popular to serve margaritas in a mason jar with a ton of ice. The original margarita recipe was designed to be served as a short drink, with a volume of just 3 1/2 ounces. As with most classic cocktail recipes, it will barely fill many of today's larger margarita and cocktail glasses, much less a mason jar.

If you want to make a mason jar margarita, you need a recipe designed for the larger volume. This modern version makes a drink that's just over 6 ounces. With plenty of ice cubes and fresh fruit, it will fill the average mason jar mug perfectly.

To make this margarita, shake 2 ounces tequila, 1 ounce triple sec, and 3 ounces fresh sour mix with ice. Strain it into an ice-filled mason jar (rimmed, if you like) and add a few lime wedges.

This can also be mixed directly in your mason jar. At first, cut back on the ice, shake or stir the drink, then fill it with fresh ice cubes.

If you're a fan of mixing drinks in mason jars, Shane Carley's "The Mason Jar Cocktail Companion" is an excellent book. All of the recipes are measured in parts and many of the booze-heavy recipes have been adapted to the higher volume. Carley's mason jar margarita, for instance, mixes 3 parts tequila, 2 parts orange liqueur, and 1 part lime juice.

Is Triple Sec Required in a Margarita?

Triple sec is one of the key ingredients in a margarita. It acts as the drink's sweetener and adds a hint of orange flavor. You can use another orange liqueur, such as curaçao, and the Cadillac margarita uses the brandy-based Grand Marnier. Though definitely not an authentic margarita, some people prefer to skip the liqueur and use simple syrup with a squeeze of fresh orange juice instead (orange-flavored syrup is an alternative). With these changes, you will need to play with the proportions to create a well-balanced margarita.

How Strong Is a Margarita?

Using the original recipe and an 80-proof tequila along with Cointreau, the margarita is definitely not a low-proof cocktail. It shakes up to around 27 percent ABV (54 proof), or just over half the strength of a tequila shot. If you serve it on the rocks, it will dilute and relax a bit over time.

Where Was the Margarita Invented?

There are a number of stories about where the margarita was created. It's difficult to say which (if any) is true. In the book "Imbibe!," David Wondrich traces its roots to around the repeal of Prohibition. "Margarita" is the Spanish word for "daisy" and this drink (along with the original tequila sunrise) belongs to the daisy family of cocktails.

Drinks like the brandy daisy were very popular in the late 1800s and made with any base spirit, including brandy, gin, rum, and whiskey. They follow a formula of spirit, sweetener, orange liqueur, lemon juice, and soda. When tequila started to reach American bars, the tequila daisy—made with tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and sometimes soda—appeared. It wasn't long before it became known as the margarita.

What's the Difference Between a Daiquiri and a Margarita?

The daiquiri and margarita are two very popular classic cocktails that have a similar sweet-tart flavor profile. The original recipes for both use lime juice, though the daiquiri has a rum base and is typically sweetened with simple syrup rather than triple sec. Both cocktails can be made with a variety of fruits or tossed in the blender too.