Margarita is a wonderful classic cocktail that combines sweet, sour, and salty flavors in one. It’s a simple mixture of homemade margarita mix, tequila, and orange liqueur. What makes this Margarita recipe the best is the homemade margarita mix and method of preparation. (Included recipes for single and for a pitcher!)
Table of Contents
To say that Margarita is my favorite cocktail would be an understatement. It must be the perfect combination of sweet, salty, and sour flavors that makes this cocktail so satisfying.
There are so many legends about who was the genius behind invention of margarita cocktail, it’s hard to know which is the true one. I don’t think we will ever truly know who it was but as long as we all get to enjoy this creation, that’s all that matters.
Classic Margarita is a simple combination of lime juice, tequila, orange liqueur, and simple syrup served in a salted rim glass. Other citrus flavors like lemon and orange are often added to enhance the flavors of citrus and add aroma. I love the addition of orange because it give the cocktail another layer of flavor and a sweetness balance.
Ingredient Notes and Tips
Tequila – choose your favorite tequila, whether it’s silver or reposado. Just remember, your cocktail will be as good as ingredients you put in it!
Orange liqueur – my personal favorite is Cointreau. It has a great and bright orange taste and aroma without the excessive sweetness.
Margarita Mix – it’s hard to beat homemade and it’s especially true for a Margarita Mix. No store-bought mix will compare to homemade when you’re using fresh citrus juices.
See recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Tips For Choosing Liquors
- There are a few things that can affect the taste of a margarita, like ingredients you use and method of preparation. Much like with everything you make, ingredients are very important. So if you opt for a lower grade of tequila and orange liqueur, it will taste accordingly. Try to get better tequila and orange liqueur for the best tasting cocktail.
- I prefer to use silver or reposado tequila in a margarita because it is mixed with several other ingredients. Silver tequila is good for mixing into cocktails, like Margarita and Paloma. Reposado tequila is good in cocktails and taking straight shots because of the smooth and rich taste. (Save your Añejo and Extra Añejo for straight drinking, it is aged longer, more aromatic, and much better tasting!)
- When it comes to orange liqueur, I prefer to use Cointreau. There are three most known orange liqueurs – Triple Sec, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier. Cointreau has a strong and aromatic orange flavor but without being too sweet (it’s perfect in many cocktails like Lemon Drop Martini). Grand Marnier has a strong, full bodied orange flavor but it’s quite sweet. Triple Sec has the lesser orange taste and aroma.
Homemade Margarita Mix
“Homemade is always the best.” We know it to be true about most foods and it’s just as true about a margarita mix.
Homemade margarita mix is very easy to make and can be made ahead of time. Only 4 simple ingredients go into a margarita mix:
simple syrup (aka sugar and water)
Freshly squeezed lime juice, lemon, juice and orange juice are the best, of course. I use a simple little juicer and it’s done in about 15 minutes. Once the juices are squeezed, combine it with simple syrup and refrigerate in a container with a lid for up to a week!
How To Make It
As I mentioned above, the best ingredients make the best margaritas. Try to get the best tequila and orange liqueur and make your own margarita mix. You can always make the margarita mix ahead of time and keep it in the fridge.
Spread some coarse sea salt in a small dish (1). Rub the rim of a glass with some lime and the dip the rim into the salt to coat it all around (2).
Combine tequila (3), orange liqueur (4), and margarita mix (5) in a cocktail shaker (or a blender). Close the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds (6).
PRO TIP: There is an extra step you can take to make sure you have the best tasting margaritas. When I was bartering we, always took an extra step of mixing the ingredients with the milkshake blender. NOT blending them with ice, but just blending liquid ingredients together to thoroughly mix them (again, no ice).
At home, you can combine the liquid ingredients together in a blender and pulse a few times to blend (no ice). If you don’t have a blender or just do not feel like taking that extra step, then just combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker and vigorously shake for 15-20 seconds.
Yes, margarita is typically a gluten free cocktail. Tequila is made out of agave and therefore, is a gluten free alcohol. Luckily, Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, and Cointreau are gluten free liqueurs so they are also safe to be added to your margarita.
Silver tequila is a very young tequila, it is not aged at all. This tequila is bottled right after the distillation process.
“Reposado” means “rested” in Spanish, which basically means that this type of tequila is rested/aged anywhere from two months to a year before it’s bottled. The golden color of this tequila comes from the barrels where it’s rested, and it also really takes in that flavor.
The most common way you will find a margarita is on the rocks, with a salt rim, and garnished with a lime wedge. Salt is a personal preference but it goes beautifully with the flavor of margarita.
Personally, I like my margarita neat (i.e. no rocks), especially if I plan to drink it slowly. Ice tends to water down the cocktails quickly, especially when there is salt present. But adding ice is as personal preference as salt.
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- 2 oz silver or reposado tequila
- 1 oz orange liqueur: triple sec, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier
- 3-4 oz margarita mix
- coarse salt for rim
- limes for garnish
- ice cubes optional
- Combine margarita mix, tequila, and orange liqueur in a blender (no ice) and pulse a few times. ORCombine margarita mix and liquors in a cocktail shaker, add some ice, and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds.
- Spread some coarse salt in a shallow, wide bowl.
- Rub the glass rim with a lime and dip the rim into coarse salt, to coat the rim all around.
- Pour margarita into the glass (with or without the ice) and garnish with a slice of lime.
- Remember, the best ingredients make the best margaritas. Try to get the best tequila and orange liqueur and make your own margarita mix. You can always make the margarita mix ahead of time and keep it in the fridge.
- Silver Tequila vs. Reposado: Silver tequila is a very young tequila, it is not aged at all. This tequila is bottled right after the distillation process.
“Reposado” tequila is rested/aged anywhere from two months to a year before it’s bottled. The golden color of this tequila comes from the barrels where it’s rested, and it also really takes in that flavor.
Margarita Pitcher Recipe
- 16 oz lime juice (about 8 limes)
- 8 oz lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
- 4 oz orange juice (about 1 large orange)
- 8 oz simple syrup 1 cup of hot water mixed with 1 cup of sugar
- 16 oz silver tequila
- 8 oz orange liqueur: triple sec, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier
- margarita mix from above
- Coarse salt for glass rims
- Lime slices for garnish
- Ice cubes
- TIP: When picking out lemons and limes, make sure to choose ripe fruit that are soft. If fruit is not ripe enough, it won’t yield much juice.
- Squeeze juice from lemons, limes, and oranges. (If you use a juicer, you will get more juice out of each fruit.)
- Heat up a cup of water and stir in sugar until dissolved to get simple syrup.
- Combine simple syrup and juices and mix well. Pour into a jar with a lid and refrigerate for about 2 hours to cool down.
- Combine margarita mix, tequila, and orange liqueur in a blender (no ice) and pulse a few times.
- Spread some coarse salt in a shallow, wide bowl.
- Rub each glass rim with a lime and dip the rim into coarse salt.
- Add some ice to each glass and pour margarita mixture over it. Garnish with a lime and enjoy!
- Make Ahead: you can make a pitcher of margaritas a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator, in an air-tight container.
- Like it sweeter? You can increase the amount of sugar in a simple syrup by 1/4 cup or add 1/4 of agave nectar.
- Storing Leftover: If you have margaritas leftover in the pitcher, make sure to store it in the refrigerator, in an air-tight pitcher or glass jar with a lid. Store it for up to 3 days.
- You can also freeze leftover margaritas in individual freezer-safe containers. Make sure to only fill the containers 3/4 full and close them air-tight.