How to make the perfect margarita

How to make the perfect margarita

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Featuring the often misunderstood tequila, the classic margarita cocktail is the perfect drink to enjoy on a hot summer’s day, or sip ahead of a barbecue.

Bold and zingy in flavour, it strikes the perfect balance between sweet and sour, thanks to the combination of orange liqueur and fresh lime juice. Once you’ve given your cocktail a good shake, don’t forget to run a lime wedge around the rim of your glass, then dip it into salt for the perfect finishing touch. Cheers!


1 part Cazadores tequila
½ part triple sec liqueur
1 whole lime
cubed ice

  1. Start by chilling your glass – the easiest way is to fill it with ice, or if you’re super organised, pop it into the freezer 30 minutes before you need it.
  2. Fill the jug of a cocktail shaker with ice, then pour in the tequila and triple sec.
  3. Squeeze in the lime juice, pop on the top part of your shaker, then shake hard for about 30 seconds to mix it all together and chill the liquid really well.
  4. Run a lime wedge around the outside of the rim of your glass before rolling the rim in a little fine sea salt.
  5. Double strain the cocktail mixture into your glass, and enjoy.

If you want to learn how to rim a glass to impress your friends, Joe McCanta is here to show you how:

For more tequila-based inspiration, check out Simone Caporale whip up a delightfully fruity tequila sunrise.

How to Make the Perfect Margarita

It's a classic you'll go back to time and time again.

Great for batch cocktails or a summer sip, the margarita is versatile, delicious, and multi-seasonal. The history of the margarita is an ambiguous one, with origin stories based in old Hollywood favorites like Rita Hayworth (whose real name was Margarita Cansino) and Peggy Lee. Another folktale imagines Texas socialite Margaret Sames (hence "margarita") stirring up the beverage for friends in 1940's Acapulco. Whatever the legend, the margarita has been embossed in the cocktail hall of fame since, and has been the choice drink of such celebs as Real Housewives of New York star Bethenny Frankel, and Beatnik Jack Kerouac.

Whether you're toasting at a summer barbecue or mixing up a batch for Cinco de Mayo festivities, the classic margarita is easy to make and is always a crowd pleaser. Made with tequila, lime juice, Cointreau or Triple Sec, and is traditionally served with a salted rim, the margarita is sure to please season after season.

For a fool proof method and a refreshing drink every time, here's the recipe for a classic margarita, in 3 easy steps.

Maria Daniela Toporek

Step 1

Use a citrus squeezer to squeeze 4 oz. of lime juice into a cup and set it aside.

Step 2

Add 3 oz. of tequila and 1.5 oz of Cointreau into a blender. Follow that up with the lime juice from the previous step, 2 cups of ice and blend it!

Step 3

(Optional) Add Salt Around the Rim:

Now to set up your glasses, cut a lime into small wedges and use one of them to rub a small amount of lime juice around the rim of your class. The lime juice will help the salt stick around the edges.

Step 4

Pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt into a small plate. Grab the glass you just rubbed lime juice on and hold angle it so you can rotate the rim and make sure you've added salt around it evenly.

Step 5

After salting the glasses, finally pour the margarita into your glass. Add a lime wedge to your glass as the final garnish, invite friends, and say cheers.

Show off your mixology skills this National Margarita Day, and please remember to drink responsibly!

Classic Margarita

Cocktail trends come and go but the Margarita has been a favorite for decades. If anything, it&aposs now more popular than ever before thanks to the current tequila renaissance. Shake up our Classic Margarita and enjoy—there&aposs no denying how delicious this three-ingredient drink is when you get it just right. Do you you want to head to Margaritaville with friends (or your quarantine pod)? You can make a batch of the tequila, orange liqueur, and lime-juice mixture up to a day ahead. Refrigerate it in an air-tight container until you&aposre ready to shake with ice and serve.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Coarse salt
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup best-quality white tequila
  • 1/3 cup Cointreau
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus more if desired

To salt-rim the glasses, rub a cut lime around the rim of each of 4 stemmed goblets. Fill a saucer with salt. Dip goblet, upside down, into salt. Refrigerate goblets until ready to use.

Fill blender three-quarters full of ice cubes. Pour lime juice, tequila, and Cointreau over ice. Add sugar blend, starting slowly, and then increasing to high speed, until ice is very finely chopped and mixture is frothy. Taste for sweetness add more sugar if desired. Blend a few seconds more pour into salt-rimmed glasses. Serve immediately.

Perfect Margarita

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Our former senior editor has a side job of advocating proper margarita-making. Following is the only way she thinks a margarita should be prepared. Serve it with either our Cumin Salt or our Cayenne Salt and your next party will be a big hit.

Special equipment: This citrus juicer won us over because of its efficiency and practical design.

What to buy: All self-respecting margaritas are made with only 100 percent agave tequila (we like to use the high-quality Cuervo 1800, Patrón Silver, Herradura, or Don Julio) and Cointreau.

This recipe was featured as part of our Build Your Own Burrito Bar story.

What to buy

Zulay Metal Citrus Press/Juicer

A manual citrus press is all you need for small amounts of juice. This one is sturdy metal that doesn't take up much space or require much force to get every last drop from your fruit.

How to make the perfect margarita

"It's a cleaner margarita," said Aniston, during a 2018 interview with InStyle talking to her friend Molly McNearney, who is married to talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

McNearney praised Aniston's margarita-making skills and told her, "You're really good at [making them]."

While many margarita recipes call for some type of sweetener, Aniston is a purist.

"No sugar, no mixes, no agave," she said. "I don't like sweet drinks."

Instead, she sticks to the three classic ingredients that many of America's top mixologists have previously said are the only ones that should ever really be in a true margarita.

4-Ingredient Skinny Margarita

"Oh, lord, it's barely a recipe," she said. "It's basically silver tequila with lime juice shaken and over rocks. And some people like a little Cointreau, some don't."

Aniston said she likes a little of bit Cointreau added to her margarita. She told Yahoo in 2015 that "it's delicious." As for the type of silver tequila in her margarita, Patrón has been a favorite in the past. "I love [it]," she added.

Don Julio 1942 has also been one of her favorite agave-based spirits, but that's just for sipping. "It's so yummy, it has a little sweetness to it, which I usually don't like," she said.


Food Oprah just shared the recipe for her favorite low-sugar cocktail — here’s how to make it

Aniston's ex-husband Justin Theroux actually may have been the one who came up with the method of making the star's favorite "cleaner" margarita.

"Justin actually makes the perfect margarita . because there's no agave, no sugar, no mix," she told Yahoo. "It's pure tequila, lime juice, a squinch [sic] of Cointreau."

Whether or not it's Theroux's method doesn't matter. Aniston's marriage to Theroux may have ended, but a great margarita is forever.

We Asked Six Chefs How To Make The Perfect Margarita

Margaritas are fairly simple: two parts tequila, one part liqueur, one part lime juice, right? LOL, NOPE. We asked six professional chefs to give us their favorite margarita recipe, and as a surprise to literally no one, each chef had their own spin on the perfect cocktail.

Millie Peartree

Restaurateur Millie Peartree prefers to make her marg sans alcohol&mdashbut promises it's just as good as the real thing. "I have no fond memories of this recipe at all," Millie joked. "It just makes me feel included when my friends are throwing the drinks back."

To make her virgin strawberry marg, all you need is a blender, frozen strawberries, lime juice, alcohol-free tequila, and sugar-free triple sec. Millie opts for the Ritual Tequila Alternative which is made from a blend of botanicals that mimics the taste of traditional tequila and is a simple 1:1 replacement.

"If you're from New York, you know about the icy man&mdashthis gives me exactly what I'm looking for in summer."

Donate to Millie's fundraiser, Full Heart Full Bellies.

Geoffrey Zakarian

Geoffrey Zakarian's favorite margarita is easy: Cointreau, tequila, grapefruit juice, and agave syrup. There's no need to mess with a good cocktail, he explained. However, instead of topping with a lime, he goes for a thick slice of grapefruit.

"First of all, you need to have really great ingredients. By that I mean freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and instead of simple syrup I like to use agave," Geoffrey explained.

Simple syrup is too sweet for Geoffrey's taste, and he cautions against being heavy handed with sugar in cocktails. "You wanna be able to have one and then have another one. If it's too sweet, you don't feel like having another one," Geoffrey said. "Especially if you have a bar business, you want to be able to sell another one."

Donate to Geoffrey's charity of choice, City Harvest.

Adam Richman

Adam Richman knows the rules of a good marg&mdashtwo ounces tequila, one ounce lime juice, one ounce orange liqueur&mdashbut he doesn't like to play by those. Instead, Adam adds a little bit of heat with blended jalapeño.

To make his spicy marg you'll need to squeeze your own orange juice and lime juice&mdashdon't worry, you can drink the rest of the OJ you don't use&mdashthen pour in white tequila and Cointreau.

"You can use Grand Marnier&mdash[there are] other orange liqueurs out there, but Cointreau tends to be the most classically used," Andrew explained.

His finished product is a frozen spicy marg, garnished with salt and lime. "A little bit of jalapeño and a whole lot of love."

Donate to Adam's charity of choice, No Kid Hungry.

Andrew Zimmern

Of course Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern would find a way to include worm salt into his recipe. If you've never had Sal de Gusano, let us explain: It's larvae that you can find in the agave plant that's toasted, ground up, then mixed with chiles and salt. It's spicy, smoky, and will certainly make your marg stand out from the rest.

Another uncommon addition you'll find in Andrew's cocktail is mint. "This is my trick. It's a combination between a south side&mdashwhich was the beverage of choice at all the summertime clubs on the south fork of Long Island when I was growing up," Andrew said.

The rest of his marg is classic: ice, sugar, lime juice, orange juice, Grand Marnier, and obviously: tequila. Once blended together the marg takes on a light pistachio colored drink, garnished with the bold orange Sal de Gusano.

Richard Blais

We should've known that inviting Richard Blais to make a simple margarita would turn into anything but, well, something simple. Richard starts by pouring a healthy dose of tequila and cointreau into a large glass bowl (ok, nothing strange here. ) then brings out a whisk (weird, but ok, we're still keeping our cool), then whips out his liquid nitrogen tank. Blink. Blink.

"Can you freeze alcohol? Well, you can when you have a cryogenic fluid," Richard explained. "It's -367 degrees Fahrenheit. We're using the nitrogen as a coolant."

He pours the liquid nitrogen over the bowl while furiously whisking and soon enough, the entire bowl of alcohol is frozen into a slushee-like mixture, which Richard lovingly dubs a "tequila sorbet."

Chef Judy Joo loves a good tart frozen margarita (AKA an adult slurpee, right?) and her signature drink is full of raspberries and fresh lime juice. Judy keeps her recipe simple: a bag of frozen raspberries, a handful of ice, lime juice, a "good amount" of tequila ("you can just eyeball it," Judy said), triple sec, and agave syrup.

Her final product is similar to Richard's: a thick, frozen boozy treat that you can eat with a spoon.

A Healthier Skinny Margarita Recipe

This skinny margarita recipe has only 106 calories, less than 1 gram net carbs, and 0.3 grams of sugar. It only takes a couple minutes to make, using just five ingredients. Can’t get any better than that!

And yet, it tastes absolutely delicious.

I served these low carb paleo margaritas for some friends and they didn’t even know that they were healthy or sugar-free! They agreed with me that these are simply the best skinny margarita version they’ve tried.

There is some controversy about whether alcohol is allowed on a paleo diet. It’s your call, but if you are okay with it, this paleo margarita recipe is as natural as it gets.

Either way, drinking these homemade skinny margaritas is much better option than regular ones that are filled with sugar. Sweet drinks have always been my favorite kind, but the sugar in them is a problem.

And, even if you buy the best skinny margarita mix out there, it will probably be artificially sweetened. The ones I have seen also have preservatives and other artificial ingredients. Not good at all! Sadly, I have yet to find a low sugar margarita at a bar or restaurant, or as a mix.

Cointreau or no Cointreau? That is the question hotly debated by margarita connoisseurs. To get a definitive answer, we had an audience with the “King of Cocktails” himself. The following recipes come from Dale DeGroff, former bartender at New York’s famous Rainbow Room, author of the book The Craft of The Cocktail and president and founder of The Museum of the American Cocktail.

The Original Margarita

Straight Up or On the Rocks, Not Frozen

. 3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
. 1/4 oz. Cointreau
. 1/2 oz. tequila

Assemble all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake well to a slow ten count. Strain into the serving glass of choice (tumbler or cocktail glass if served without ice). If salting the rim of the glass, use only Kosher salt, never iodized. Just salt half the glass.

The Original Margarita Batch

One gallon or about 47 4.5-ounce margaritas

The batch cannot be assembled simply by multiplying the ingredients by the number of drinks you would like to make. Additional sweetness in the form of simple syrup, and a little less tequila and lime juice is needed to make the batch work for 47 portions.

Don’t forget to take into account the shaking of the drink, which provides the final and critical ingredient of any cocktail: the one ounce of water added by shaking. That is why it is so critical to shake a drink well and for the proper time.

. 32 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
. 16 oz. simple syrup *
. 36 oz. Cointreau
. 44 oz. tequila

Assemble all the ingredients in a container just a bit larger than a gallon and adjust sweetness with lime juice and simple syrup. If it tastes good to you, it is probably good.
Remember individual servings still must be shaken with ice, even if the mixtures is already chilled.

Note: To use the batch above for margaritas, an additional 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of simple syrup must be added to the blender for each serving to carry the flavor forward through all the additional water.

* How to Make Your Own Simple Syrup
Fill a container that has a screw top half way up with granulated sugar (if your grocer has Superfine or Bar sugar use that). Fill the rest of the way with pure water. Screw on the top, turn upside down and shake well. Set aside and if sugar settles out, shake well again to dissolve. It is not necessary to cook and room temperature water will do fine.

How to Make a Classic Margarita

The classic garnish for a margarita is a salt rim. To achieve this for a crowd, fill a saucer with lime juice, water, or a mix of the two. Fill a second saucer with kosher salt or coarse sea salt. If youɽ like, you can add lime zest, chili powder, or other seasonings to the salt. If you're adding spices, mix no more than one part spice to three parts salt.

I prefer a rocks glass for a classic margarita, but use a margarita glass if you must. If you're prepping several margaritas, turn your glass upside-down, place it in the saucer of lime juice at an angle, and turn the cup so that just the outside lip of the glass is wetted by the lime and water mixture. Immediately place the rim of the glass flat into the saucer of salt, then lift, turn the glass right-side-up, set aside, and repeat with remaining glasses. It's important to moisten just the outside of the glass so that you don't get salt inside the glass, which can throw off the flavors of the drink.

Just making one or two drinks? Run a halved juicy lime just around the outside rim of your glasses and then dip into the saucer of salt.

A Cocktail Party Guide for Beginners

For each margarita, add 2 ounces tequila, 1 ounce high-quality orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Triple Sec), and 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice.

Fill the cocktail shaker the rest of the way with ice—and please make sure those ice cubes are fresh! Affix the top of your cocktail shaker and shake until the outside of the shaker is frosty—it should just feel like the shaker is getting to a point where it will be too cold for you to handle.

Taking care not to mar the salt rim, fill cocktail glasses to the top with more fresh ice cubes.

Divide the margaritas evenly among your glasses. For an extra flourish, you can float a cross-section of lime (aka a lime wheel) on top of the drink—or even pop in a paper umbrella. But honestly, when you're drinking margaritas this good, paper umbrellas will probably just get in the way.


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