The Marvelous Margarita

Is there a more adaptable, beloved drink than the Margarita? We weren’t surprised when The Mixer’s recent survey revealed the Margarita as the nation’s favorite cocktail to make at home, proving its enduring popularity. 

How to Make the Perfect Classic Margarita

Part of the Margarita’s appeal lies in its flexibility. In its original form it’s a classic sour made with 3 elements: strong, sour and sweet. This version includes tequila, lime, and orange liqueur, often finished with a salt rim. There are several different flavors going on at the same time; it’s a little tart and a little sweet. The acid from the lime or lemon keeps your palate salivating. Let’s delve into the basic building blocks:


The strong element in a drink is the base spirit(s). In a Margarita we traditionally use tequila, but using other agave distillates can give your drink a delicious and unique flavor. 

  • Use Blanco Tequila for simple, crisp, and clean tasting Margaritas. Unaged tequila brings notes of citrus and pepper, great for a creative variation.  
  • Use Reposado Tequila for richer, more flavorful Margaritas. If it is aged at least 2 months in oak barrels, it will have hints of caramel and baking spices, perfect for richer flavored and elevated variations.
  • Mezcal brings a rich, smoky and spicy flavor to Margaritas, making it a great choice for the more adventurous who’re looking for new and exciting flavors.


The sour element in a drink is what brings acidity to it. Lemon juice and lime juice are the most popular sour agents but you could also use key lime, tart cranberry juice, vinegar, malic/lactic acid, etc. Lime juice is tart, bright, and the perfect pairing for the spice and citrus notes of tequilas and mezcal. When using lime juice, freshness is key. If you can, squeeze your juice to order or pre-squeeze before service if you’re planning to make several servings.


The sweet element in a drink balances the sour and strong elements. Sweetness can come from many different sources such as white sugar, brown sugar, agave syrup, honey, maple syrup, custom syrups, liqueurs, etc. The traditional Margarita is a daisy, which is a sour sweetened with a liqueur, orange liqueur specifically, such as Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Triple Sec. However, many popular variations will include other sweeteners. 


Every chef knows that a pinch of salt is the key to opening up the flavors in a great dish, and the same goes for drinks. The Margarita is often served with a salt rim that helps to enhance the taste and elevate the flavors, but it can also be mixed in the drink or sprinkled on top. There are many different kinds of salt and they can all bring something different to your Margarita: coarse sea salt (avoid fine salt for drinks), kosher salt, volcanic black salt, Himalayan pink salt, chili salt, flavored salts, etc.

How to put salt on your glass: Before you make your drink, pour your chosen salt onto a plate. Next, rub the side of a lime wedge against the outside lip of your glass and gently roll the edge against the salt on the plate. Try to keep the salt on the outside edge of the glass so it doesn’t fall in your drink.

Serving Techniques


Most Margarita recipes are designed to be single-serve and shaken by hand. Combine ingredients in a mixing tin/glass, add ice to the top, place the top tin on firmly, and shake vigorously back and forth until the tin has frost on the outside and is cold to the touch. 


Frozen Margaritas are a fun and delicious option for service and are hands down a favorite cocktail for summer. Whether blended or made in a machine, frozen Margaritas need to be made a little differently than the shaken variation because achieving optimal texture and flavor is a science. Alcohol percentage by volume, sugar concentration, and temperature are all in flux with each other depending on the method. When making a Margarita in a blender, adding the correct amount of ice is important for temperature, consistency, and dilution. Not all ice is the same size, but a good rule of thumb is to estimate about 130g (about 1-1.5 cups) of ice per drink. 


Double Rocks Glass – This glass usually holds 12-16 fl oz and is perfect for shaken Margaritas.

Stemmed Margarita Glass – This 8-12 fl oz is an iconic and playful glass perfectly suited for frozen Margaritas and creative variations.

Pitcher – Margaritas are one of the best cocktails to be enjoyed with a group. Any recipe in this book can be multiplied by four and prepared in a pitcher for a group serve. Remember to add lots of ice for proper dilution.

Add a float – A float of Grand Marnier takes your Margarita from good to Grand. These sidecars, or “tooters” as they are called, make service simple. Fill with Grand Marnier, clip to the side of the glass, and serve. 

Fruity Twists on the Classic

The Margarita is the perfect canvas for flavor innovation and experimentation as its key ingredients can be stretched into new forms. Whatever you make, the whole will be more than the sum of its parts. There are many ways that you can mix it up to create your own personal favorite; the choices are endless. 

Margaritas and fruit are a pairing guaranteed to please. As a modifier, fruits can bring flavor, sweetness, and/or acidity to a drink. They offer an opportunity to embrace seasonality and are an exciting way to mix up the classic Margarita. Here are some of our favorites: 

Watermelon Margarita Recipe


  • 2 parts blanco tequila
  • 1 part watermelon juice
  • 0.75 part fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 part agave syrup
  • 5 mint leaves

Method: Add all ingredients to tin and shake with ice. Strain into a double old-fashioned glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a watermelon cube and a fresh mint bouquet.

Passion Fruit Margarita Recipe


  • 2 parts blanco tequila
  • 0.5 parts passion fruit puree
  • 0.5 part fresh lime juice
  • 0.75 part simple syrup

Method: Rim a double old fashioned glass with black sea salt and set aside. Add all ingredients to tin and shake with ice. Strain into glass over fresh ice. Garnish with fresh passion fruit half or a lime wheel. 

Smoky Pineapple Margarita Recipe


  • 2 parts mezcal
  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • 0.5 prt fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 part cinnamon syrup

Method: Add all ingredients to tin and shake with ice. Over fresh ice, strain into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge, pineapple frond, and brandied cherry (optional).

Mango Margarita Recipe


  • 2 parts blanco tequila
  • 0.5 parts mango puree
  • 0.5 parts mango puree
  • 0.5 parts fresh lime juice
  • 0.75 part simple syrup

Method: Add all ingredients to tin and shake with ice. Strain into a salt-rimmed double old fashioned glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a lime and mango slice. 

In Conclusion

There are many ways to make a Margarita, and each bartender has their own personal favorite recipe. The important thing is to use quality ingredients and to find the perfect balance of sweet and sour. With so many delicious variations, there is sure to be a Margarita out there for everyone!

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