Cocktail Party

Margarita Recipe

April 12, 2021
5 Stars
Photo by Julia Gartland Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog
Author Notes

Here's a classic margarita recipe that lets all of the natural flavors shine through: tequila, lime juice, and agave.

If there is one thing to say about a margarita, it’s that you can’t make just one; the citrusy, tequila-based drink is not designed for solitude. Many a football-watching party on February 3rd will have margaritas made by the pitcher, alongside the requisite guacamole. And they will be welcomed–there is no better spread for spectator sports.

Though they seem made for each other, the drink came to be long before the Super Bowl. Rumor has it that an enlightened bartender mixed up the first margarita in Rosarita Beach, Mexico, for a showgirl named Marjorie King who was allergic to all liquor except tequila. “Margarita” is the Spanish equivalent of Marjorie. Whether or not liquor allergies like Marjorie's exist remains to be seen, but until we manage to get drinks named after ourselves, we’re drinking to her.

Know Your Tequila
• There are five types of tequila: blanco (white), joven (gold), reposado (rested), añejo (aged) and extra añejo (ultra aged). To really savor tequila’s signature flavor, choose one that is made with 100 percent agave sugars, versus Mixto versions, which only require 51 percent agave.
• We like our margaritas with a smooth, tasty reposado (lightly aged), such as Cazadores Reposado.
• Freshly concocted tequilas like blanco (white, unaged) and joven (or gold, usually a white with coloring and spices added) pack a punch but can be a bit harsh.
• Añejo (aged) and extra añejo (ultra aged) exhibit much more complexity and depth. They are best sipped neat. —Erika Kotite

Test Kitchen Notes

Ah, margaritas. You know them, you love them. The classic cocktail of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice—with plenty of salt around the glass’s rim—is sip-able year-round, but there’s nothing like a margarita on a sticky summer evening, preferably drunk outside.

Let’s talk through the details: The International Bartenders’ Association’s Official list of Cocktails says the standard ratios for a margarita is 10:4:3 (tequila: triple sec: fresh lime juice); here, we’re following 8:4:4:1 (tequila: triple sec: fresh lime juice: agave syrup). So let’s break it down. A margarita must have tequila, specifically white, or blanco, a smooth, clear tequila; or with reposado tequila, which is aged and slightly oakier in flavor and golden in color. Next up, liqueur. Triple sec, an orange-flavored liqueur, one of the most common brands of which is Cointreau, (called for in this recipe) adds sweetness and a subtle floral aroma. Next, lime: Because it’s such a central part of the drink’s ethos, the lime juice in a margarita should always be freshly-squeezed as opposed to bottled (there’s really no contest when it comes to flavor). The IBA doesn’t recommend a sweetener, as triple sec is quite sweet, but you’ll find many margaritas, including this one, suggest at least half an ounce of agave or simple syrup.

Some prefer margaritas frozen, which simply means blended; this version is on the rocks, so you avoid the brain-freeze, but on absolutely sweltering days, sometimes there’s nothing like a frozen drink. Just toss everything in the blender and give your cocktail a quick blitz. The salt rimmed glass, however, is non-negotiable. —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Margarita Recipe
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces Cointreau
  • 2 ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice (plus spent lime rind)
  • 1/2 ounce agave syrup
  • Ice
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Additional lime wedges, for garnish
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Mix the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and agave syrup in a shaker or large measuring cup filled partway with ice and stir or shake until it's thoroughly chilled.
  2. Spread salt on a plate. Rub the rims of two rocks glasses with the spent lime. Turn glasses upside down in the salt.
  3. Fill glasses with ice and pour in the margarita mixture. Garnish each margarita with a lime wedge.
  4. To make a frozen margarita: Fill a blender with a few handfuls of ice, then add the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and agave syrup. Blend until the mixture is slushy (add more ice if you want it more slushy!), then pour into the salt-rimmed glasses and garnish with a lime wedge.
  5. To make a fruity frozen margarita: Place 1/2 cup of your favorite frozen fruit (we like strawberry, mango, pineapple, and watermelon) and a handful of ice in a blender. Add the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and agave syrup, and blend until the mixture is slushy (add more fruit if you want to amp up the flavor or make the drink colder!), then pour into the salt-rimmed glasses and garnish with a lime wedge.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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I spend about an equal amount of time behind the laptop and behind the stove. In between preparing and writing about food, I love to hang out with my husband, three children, big shaggy dog and two cats. History is also my thing, especially the Regency period, U.S. Westward expansion and World War II. Favorite drinks: good pinot noirs and classic martinis. Favorite book: Pride & Prejudice. Favorite obsessions: Laura Ingalls Wilder and South Dakota

34 Reviews

Rick June 7, 2021
I enjoyed the Heck out of this one. Not sure what mcuho is (prior comments) but I sure liked it alot. Just the right amount of sweet and tart with the proper kick and flavor.
 
Burna October 24, 2020
It tastes wonderful.
 
Christina G. May 5, 2020
DELICIOUS! Today is Cinco De Mayo. I had to sample this last night to try it out. yummy. Having a couple friends over later to 'Distance on the Deck'. I'm usually too lazy to make simple syrup. (I know it's easy). I add maple syrup to my drinks that call for it. They are still delicious and I don't notice anything different..
 
Burna October 24, 2020
Yeah right
 
Christina G. May 5, 2020
DELICIOUS! Today is Cinco De Mayo. I had to sample this last night to try it out. yummy. Having a couple friends over later to 'Distance on the Deck'. I'm usually too lazy to make simple syrup. (I know it's easy). I add maple syrup to my drinks that call for it. They are still delicious and I don't notice anything different.
 
Doctor_Captain October 2, 2019
This is a little bit on the sweet side for my tastes, I dialed back the sweetening agents (agave syrup and Cointreau) to a an ounce total 1/4 agave and 3/4 oz of Cointreau, sublime.
 
Frankie September 11, 2018
Just the right balance of tequila, Cointreau & sweet & tangy. It’s also a very easy recipe to remember and to multiply. Thank you!!!
 
Ciung W. March 21, 2016
Excellent information to preparemargarita, I served in mcuho.
 
Dionisis B. March 21, 2016
Excellent information to preparemargarita, I served in mcuho.
 
sahil March 19, 2016
Excellent information to preparemargarita, I served in mcuho.
 
Barsaa U. March 17, 2016
Excellent information to preparemargarita, I served in mcuho.
 
Barsaa U. March 17, 2016
I served in mcuho.
 
Blackstar B. March 15, 2016
Excellent information to preparemargarita, I served in mcuho.
 
Sanjeda S. March 15, 2016
Excellent information to preparemargarita, I served in mcuho.
 
Yasmeidy G. March 14, 2016
EXCELLENT
 
Clark N. March 14, 2016
Excellent information to preparemargarita, I served in mcuho.
 
srirekha March 14, 2016
Excellent information to preparemargarita, I served in mcuho
 
Edali A. March 12, 2016
Excellent information to preparemargarita, I served in mcuho
 
milagb1 March 10, 2016
Excellent information to preparemargarita, I served in mcuho
 
zahid March 9, 2016
Excellent information to preparemargarita, I served in mcuho.
 
zahid March 9, 2016
Excellent information to preparemargarita, I served in mcuho.
 
Savoury C. November 16, 2014
I'll take one of these please :)