Ah, the margarita. Is there a more universally loved cocktail out there? I’m not sure there is.
There are so many different types of margaritas out there, that no matter who you are, there’s going to be a variation for you.
Whether you like them tart, sweet, strong, weak, blended, on the rocks, flavored, or traditional lime – the margarita is one of the most versatile cocktails on the world.
Unfortunately, it’s also often one of the most poorly executed.
You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all had a margarita with that sugary mix and half a bottle of Jose Cuervo – while that can be fine….the margarita can (and should) be SO much better.
The right margarita recipe is a magical thing. It can hit the perfect combination of tart, salty, sweet, tangy, or even spicy to leave you with a cocktail that’s memorable and enjoyable to drink.
So in this post I’m going to share with you my favorite margarita recipes. They’re all very different and will appeal to different tastes and preferences.
Looking for a quick and easy blended margarita recipe for a group? We got you covered.
Looking for a complex sipper that you can enjoy while pretending to look out at a tropical view? We got you there too, and everywhere in between.
We’ll answer some of the most common margarita questions as well, like “what is the best tequila for a margarita” or “what is a cadillac margarita?”
No matter what margarita recipe you’re looking for? We’ve got you covered, so let’s stop wasting time and dig in.
Margarita Ingredients: What’s in a Margarita?
A margarita cocktail is a citrus tequila cocktail that no one really knows the exact origin of.
The version that makes the most sense to me is the one told by David Wondrich in his fantastic cocktail book, Imbibe. In it, he says that the margarita is an evolution of the pre-prohibition era, Daisy cocktail.
Considering “margarita” is “daisy” in Spanish – the story checks out!
So what’s in a margarita? Well, as you’ll see from the recipes below, ingredients can vary wildly depending on the type of margarita you’re making.
But for the standard, traditional margarita, you’ll find:
- Orange Liqueur
- Lime Juice
- Salt on the rim
Personally, every time I’ve made a margarita that only includes those ingredients it has almost always been too sour. So I usually prefer (and recommend) recipes that have at least a little bit of sweetener.
The orange liqueur is supposed to do this, but depending on what you use, it won’t sweeten it up enough to keep from puckering up a bit. So even a 1/4 ounce of simple syrup or agave can go a long way.
This is a recipe that shows a margarita truly is, and should be a craft cocktail.
Despite the fact that probably 90% or more of the margaritas made in the world are done so using a pre-made mix – this is a recipe that proves the margarita should be included with the likes of the old fashioned, daiquiri, or negroni as one of the great classic cocktails of the world.
Here’s how to make a fantastic margarita on the rocks:
My Favorite Margarita Recipe
- Cocktail Shaker
- Hawthorne Strainer
- 2 oz Tequila Blanco or Reposado
- 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- .5 oz Orange Liqueur Triple Sec, Dry Curacao, or Cointreau all work
- .5 oz Simple Syrup
- 1 tbsp Salt (For Rim) Optional
- Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker
- Shake for 20 seconds
- Double strain over cube(s) of your choice into a rocks glass.
Margarita Questions, Answered
Before we jump into a couple other margarita recipes, let’s look at some of the most common Margarita questions.
What is the Best Tequila for Margaritas?
The best tequila for a margarita is a mid-range silver or reposado tequila. I personally like both the silver and reposado version of Espolon, which you can get for under $25 a bottle.
Generally speaking, you don’t need or want to use super top shelf anejo tequila for a margarita. I mean, sure it will taste good, but the subtleties of the flavor will be lost in the drink.
So there’s no need to use that expensive bottle of Patron or Don Julio to make a great tasting drink.
What is a Cadillac Margarita?
A cadillac margarita is a margarita that uses Grand Marinier in place of triple sec, and uses reposado tequila over blanco/silver tequila.
You’ll usually see this offered as kind of a one step upgrade at a lot of Mexican restaurants. Sometimes these will also be served using real lime juice, rather than mix which many restaurants use for their standard margarita.
What is the Best Margarita Mix?
Honestly, the best mix is no mix at all. It’s the sugary-artificial margarita mix that has given this cocktail a bad reputation over the years.
Always try and use real fresh squeezed lime juice with this one, as it will make a night and day difference. Maybe more so than any other ingredient switch I can think of in the cocktail world.
If you want something that you can make quickly and easily, then I’d check out the Beerita recipe below to use lime juice concentrate, rather than one of the bottled mixes.
Can you use Agave Instead of Simple Syrup as a Sweetener?
Many margarita recipes don’t call for any sweetener other than the orange liqueur. But as I mentioned I usually like to add at least a little bit of simple syrup to balance out the lime.
But as is the case with many tequila drinks, you can absolutely switch out agave nectar for regular simple syrup.
Best Margarita Recipes: Other Unique Margarita Recipes
The recipe above is my go-to for a standard great margarita recipe. But what if you want something a little bit different? Then I’d take a look at these margarita recipes below/
1) Avocado Margarita: Quite Possibly the Best Drink I’ve Ever Created
Years and years ago I first visited a bar in Portland, OR called Mint 8/20. It was one of the first proper Portland cocktail bars, and their signature drink was an Avocado Daiquiri.
On a whim I tried to make one recently, and it turned out really good, despite not knowing exactly what was in their recipe.
I wanted to put my own spin on the drink, so I made some tweaks and made my own avocado margarita.
I hadn’t actually searched to see if this was a thing (based on the dozens of recipes in Google, apparently it is) – but this recipe I created is really good.
If you asked me the best drink I’ve ever come up with, I might say this one. And everyone I’ve made it for or given the recipe to has said the same thing.
Check out our Avocado Margarita recipe.
2) Mezcal Margarita: A Smoky Take on a Classic
One of the great things about the marriage between mezcal and tequila, is that in a lot of drinks you can use them interchangeably. Want something a little bolder or smokier? Use mezcal! Want something more familiar? Tequila it is.
The margarita is no different, as you can take the exact same recipe and switch in mezcal to great effect.
But I’ve found that a split base using both tequila and mezcal can work really well.
Here’s my favorite way to make a mezcal margarita.
3) Best Frozen Margarita Recipe for Groups: The “Beerita”
Ok, this one might sound like something you’d do at a college frat party, but for as weird and basic as it sounds I promise you, it’s one of the most enjoyable and easiest to make frozen margarita recipes there is.
It’s especially great if you’re having a party and want something tastier than a pre-made mix, but you don’t want to be squeezing limes by hand all day.
It only takes 4 ingredients: tequila, lime juice concentrate, corona, and
Yes, Corona. Trust me on this one.
I haven’t done a proper post on this yet, but it’s super easy:
- Take a 12oz can of frozen lime juice concentrate and put it in a blender
- Fill can with tequila. Put in blender.
- Fill can with Corona. Put in blender
Voila! The easiest blended margaritas ever.
Other Recipes You Might Like
If you enjoyed this margarita recipe, then here are a few more of our cocktail recipes that might be up your alley:
- How to Make a Classic Daiquiri – Similar to a margarita but using rum. If you’re into margs, then you’ll probably love this as well.
- The Last Word – A herbal Prohibition cocktail that’s easy to make, has a really unique taste, and is a good dinner party crowd pleaser.
- Repossession Cocktail – Another tequila sour, that uses lemon instead of lime, and adds in amontillado sherry for a really unique variation.
Anejo is actually the nicest tequila – higher quality than silver!
Yep, that’s what I said! But for a margarita, you’ll lose the subtly of a really nice anejo. So there’s generally no reason to use a super expensive tequila in a margarita. A decent silver or reposado will work great.