May 3rd, 2008

The Margarita may well be the most popular cocktail in the world, but it is also one of the most abused and bastardised around today. Most bars and restaurants feature it on their menu, but the chances of getting anything resembling a true Margarita are slim-to-none. Whether it is made in a blender with ice, or simply some powdered sour-mix added to tequila, the drink you order is likely to be a pretty poor approximation of a decent cocktail.

Which is a real shame as, made right, the Margarita is a delicious cocktail and a great showcase for tequila. A variety of bartenders claim to have invented the drink, but whoever came up with it likely did so during the 1930s. While its inventor is unclear, its origins as a member of the sour family are obvious. With a base spirit of tequila, a sweetening agent of orange liqueur, and lime providing the sour component it may seem a simple drink, but looks can be deceiving.

Like any sour, the exact ratio between the different ingredients can be adjusted to suit your own preferences. I typically like my sours more on the sour side, but for me the Margarita is perfect at a tequila:orange liqueur:lime ratio of 3:2:1. While sweeter than some sours, I find this recipe really helps bring out the flavours of all three ingredients.

Margarita cocktail


View in: oz | ml | shots

Once you’ve decided what ratio you are using there are two other choices to be made when making a Margarita. The type of tequila you use can affect the flavour of the drink quite a bit. Blanco tequila is the most common, but some prefer to use a lightly-aged reposado or even an añejo. For me a decent blanco, El Tesoro being my current favourite, works best but whichever type you choose try to find a decent 100% agave bottling.

Finally, there is the question of whether to salt the rim. My preference on this varies but generally I think the drink works just great without any extra salt. A good middle-ground is to salt only half the rim, leaving the choice up to the drinker, but however much of the rim you do salt make sure it stays on the outside of the glass. Otherwise after a few sips you’re going to end up with a very salty drink.

Despite the basic recipe, the Margarita provides a wonderful mixture of flavours. The spicey, earthy features of the tequila, the sweet and zesty notes from the orange liqueur and the zing from the lime all come together to remind you exactly what a good cocktail is all about. If you’ve only even had a frozen Margarita, or your only experience of tequila involves shot glasses, give this a go and see what tequila is really all about.

Not sure which orange liqueur to use for your Margarita? Check back next week for the final round-ups of The Great(ly delayed) Oh Gosh! Orange Liqueur Showdown…

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Posted in Curaçao & Triple Sec, Lime, Recipes, Tequila

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6 responses to “Margarita”

  1. Farrell Farrell says:

    The all time best margarita recipe (don’t bash it until you’ve tried it)
    1 can Minute Maid Limeaid, dump in pitcher. Fill that can with 1 can good Tequila (I like Margaritaville Tequila) and dump in pitcher. Add two cheap beers (12 oz Miller Lites work). Mix and enjoy in glasses with a salted rim. Delish!

  2. ND ND says:

    Thanks for the post! This is also one of my favorites; it can be a really complex, interesting drink (in the right hands, of course (: ). What’s your take on the “party-style” margarita served on ice, like the recipe on

  3. Scomorokh Scomorokh says:

    Yes! Margarita is one of the best cocktail in the word. I think only 100% agava tequila make Margarita a Margarita. I prepapared my first Margarita with Los Arango Reposado – is amazing cocktail? with very interesting taste/. Now I wiill try it with Patron Reposado.

  4. Jay Jay says:

    Farrell – I’ve seen that drink listed on cocktail menus as a “Lagerita”, and have had friends order them before. I can see the appeal, but to be honest I don’t think it really compares to a true Margarita. It’s like comparing JD and coke to an Old Fashioned!

    ND – I’ve never tried Jeff’s premixed Margarita but he’s a very knowledgeable guy and I’m sure if he is putting the recipe on the site it must be a decent one. While I’m a purist at heart, I can understand not wanting to mix tens of Margaritas individually!

  5. Darryl Darryl says:

    Good post, and sadly accurate about the commonly and unfairly bastardized Margarita. It’s a classic for a reason, and that reason isn’t the frozen limeade-and-Cuervo concoctions at your local taquiera. My ideal recipe is slightly different from yours: 2 oz of gold tequila, 3/4 oz lime, and half ounces each of Cointreau and simple syrup. If you use a quality, somewhat mellow tequila (nothing crazy expensive, mind) and good limes, it’s a flavor combination made in heaven.

    And re: Jeff’s Margarita, do try it, especially if you’ve got a party coming up this summer. It’s knock-your-socks-off good, and obviously worlds better than bottled Margarita mixers.

  6. The delicious Margarita, and why you may have never tasted a real one » Cocktail adventures at Oh Gosh! « The Bartender Blog says:

    [...] The delicious Margarita, and why you may have never tasted a real one » Cocktail adventures at Oh Gosh! September 1, 2009, 2:15 pm Filed under: Uncategorized The delicious Margarita, and why you may have never tasted a real one » Cocktail adventures a… [...]

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