Margarita Cocktail

There are countless stories that claim to herald the origin of the Margarita, and to the best of my knowledge none of them have been definitively identified as the real one. Go ahead and debate this topic amongst yourselves if you wish, but in this episode we will instead focus on how to make a proper Margarita using silver tequila, Cointreau, and fresh squeezed lime juice.


2 oz Tequila

1 1/3 oz Cointreau

2/3 oz fresh lime juice


Shake with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with a wedge of lime.


pedro 16 Aug 2007
10:42 pm

Margaritas based on Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado don’t work for me and my customers at all but apparently they work in some other restaurants… I found the Agave Restaurant in Atlanta where they use Cuervo Tradicional Reposado for
what they call Agave Reposado Margatini.
check their menu on:

By the way, any ideas what they mean by ‘fresh lime & sour’ ?

I tried some aged tequilas in the Margarita but I agree with Robert that the silver one is possibly the best for this cocktail.

A friend of mine showed me a new edition of Harry’s Bar in Paris cocktail guide. Suprisingly the Margarita recipe
calls for lemon juice. We tried and didn’t like it.

Regards from a cocktail bar in Edinburgh

Robert Hess 17 Aug 2007
7:52 am

“Fresh Lime & Sour” would mean that they are using fresh lime juice -and- sour mix. In my mind the sour mix in this case is being used to add extra “volume” to the drink, without increasing the cost to the bar.

I’ve got a good friend who swears by using lemon juice instead of lime in his Margaritas, with some slight adjustments to the Cointreau, this can work out well, but I just find limes to be more appropriate.

Masecar 24 Nov 2007
3:36 am

I tried this recipe this other day and found it to be quite excellent, and as I usually avoid anything with Tequilla in it I was presently suprised.  My aversion to Tequilla comes more from the fact that I think it tastes vaguely of vinegar than any unfortunate experience with it.

Out of interest, do people ever get angry if they ask for a margarita (or daiquiri), you give them the drink as you’ve shown on this site, and they expected a frozen drink?  I ask this because I am on the younger side (22) and all the people I regularily drink with or make drinks for are of a similar age and seem to believe the only real way to make a drink is what is trendy currently (I still can’t convince half of them to actually try a proper Martini).  Do you find that desire for trendy drinks goes away with age, or will I have to deal with this for a long time?

Finally, just a general comment, I absolutely love the site and have been watching the videos since you posted the first one, I’m just a few behind now as I was busy with school and didn’t get a chance to visit the site.

Robert Hess 24 Nov 2007
8:07 pm

Wow… do you open a can of worms. :->

It can often be a balancing act to identify what “trends” are evolutionary concepts, and which are devolutionary.

Personally I feel that “blended margaritas” are in the relm of two steps back as far as proper cocktail appreciation goes, mostly because they bear too much simularity to “slushiees”, and hence our “childhood” then they do to properly position adult libations.

Cocktails should not remind us of our childhood, insteadn they should advance us into adulthood.


joe houlahan 27 Nov 2007
9:58 pm

aloha! Along the lines of slushies….If one is eating then a slushee is horrible for the gut.  this type of drink is better for eating and more in line with true latin tequila drinking, where most often it is served neat and at ambient teperature.  Good tequila is worth tasting not hiding! Salut!

Dinah 6 Dec 2007
6:32 pm

Somewhere (wish I remembered the context, sorry) I recently heard or read that Margarita is the word for “daisy” in Spanish and that the drink is the surviving south-of-the-border adaptation of a forgotten cocktail called the Daisy.

Given the Star Daisy made for me at Bourbon & Branch one time when I wanted an older drink, I believe it.

Robert Hess 6 Dec 2007
9:38 pm


Yes, “Daisy” in Spanish is “Margarita”. You can go to and check this out yourself. This is just one of the stories surrounding how the drink got it’s name.

A “Daisy” would be a drink made with Spirits, Grenadine (or Raspberry syrup), and a citrus juice. Conceptually similar to a Margarita, but this style of cocktail (spirit, syrup, juice) is extremely common, with names like sour, fix, and even punch have a fairly similar pattern. One reason for this “not” to be a Daisy, is that the construction of a Daisy was usually quite specific that a red syrup was used. No idea why.

For the time being, I’m satisfied with just shrugging my shoulders and agreeing that we may never know how the Margarita actually got its name, or when.


Al Nelson 20 Dec 2007
10:18 pm

Let me open up another can of worms.  I blame the chain rest/bars for forcing me to reprogram my customers of the decade

Robert Hess 21 Dec 2007
6:32 am

Yes, we can blame a lot of Margarita sadness on those chain restaurants. I’ve had people write to tell me my Margarita recipe was wrong because it didn’t use sour mix, and since (insert name of famous chain restaurant here) always used sour mix in their Margaritas THAT was the right way to make it.

Agave syrup is a nice “touch” to add to a Margarita, simply because it ties back so nicely to the mother plant. Personally I love my 3-2-1 recipe, and think it is sweet enough. To add Agave to this, I’d probably have to switch to a 3-1-1-1 ratio, but that too would change the flavor.

blair frodelius 18 Mar 2008
8:37 pm


What is the manufacturer of the antique juicer you use?  I’d like to try and find one on Ebay.


Robert Hess 19 Mar 2008
6:58 am

It’s an “Ebaloy” juicer.

With all of the interest that these shows have been building in that juicer, I expect prices to go through the roof soon on ebay :->

Darren 27 May 2008
10:39 am

The margarita is the most popular cocktail in the USA.  I believe that it wouldn’t be popular if it was made like this.  While this may be the ‘real’ way to make a margarita, the reason people like common margaritas are because they are watered down.

It is considered a ‘girly drink’ for a reason.  I dont think a drink with a 5 to 1 alcohol to filler ratio would be considered a girly drink.  Most people dont like the taste of alcohol, and I think people dont like the taste of spirits, regardless of the quality or alcohol content either.  Thats why they make mix drinks.  Otherwise there would be non-alcoholic tequila flavored soda and such.  I have tried the 3:2:1 ratio and the IBA 7:4:3 ratio,  and I found both undrinkable.  Its just too strong for me and most people.

That being said, i also want to say that just because I like a weak drink, doesn’t mean it has to be ‘filled’ with inferior ingredients like ‘sour mix’.  For example when I make a margarita I use 2 oz tequila, 1 1/3 oz triple sec, 2 1/3 oz lime juice, 1 1/3 oz lemon juice, and 1 1/3 oz simple syrup.  So its the same amount of alcohol, just spread out to make it less unpleasant and more thirst quenching.  Its similar to what you would get in any restaurant without the crap bar mix.

And I can understand why a customer would get upset at ordering a margarita and getting a drink that is almost pure liquor.

Robert Hess 27 May 2008
12:48 pm

You raise some good issues here.

One of which is “nothing is written in stone”. Gary Regan regularly reminds me of this when I start pontificating a tad too much on the “right’ way to make a cocktail. As it just so happens, he is also the one who “enlightened” me to the 3:2:1 ratio for the Margarita once when I was trying to determine the “right” recipe.

It’s perfectly fine for folks to like “weak” drinks, as well as drinks with a different “balance” to them. Each of us has a slightly different flavor “pattern” which we gravitate towards.

That said, I think that there is something to appreciate about having names “mean” something. The “traditional/classic” Margarita consists of tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau. Ratios of those ingredients can vary a tad, but there is always more tequila, then either of the other ingredients independently. And the key objective is to find the right “balance” of those ingredients so that it is not to sour, and not too sweet. When I order a Margarita at a quality bar, this is almost exactly what I will get every time. If I order a Margarita at a two-bit mexican joint, I’ll get something that tastes nothing like it, but more like a “lemonade, with a slight kick”.

Which one is a Margarita? Can they both be? The cheap “commercial sour mix” version of the Margarita I liken to ordering a Caesar Salad, and getting a wedge of Iceburg lettuce with garlic mayonnaise on it. Sure, it might be a fine “salad”, but can you call it a Caesar Salad? What if your first experiences with Caesar Salad were with this iceburg variation? What if that’s the one you prefer? What if that’s the way everybody made it in the town you grew up in (perhaps because they were the iceburg captal of the world)?

And it’s timely for you to raise this issue as well because we just started the “Saturated on Sazeracs” set of episodes. When I first visited New Orlenas, I made it a point to try a Sazerac at every bar I went to just so I could see how they made “real” Sazeracs down in it’s birthplace. Almost to a one, the drink that came back was WAY too sweet, and far, far, sweeter than I know this cocktail would have been made. The reason is quite simple, kids coming off of Bourbon street, wander into a bar and try a Sazerac, and are slapped across the face with alcohol unrestrained by sugar or fruit juices. Bartenders soon learn that to prevent drinks from coming back, they need to “sweeten it up” to make it more approachable to this inexperienced crowd. Thus destroying the drink for those of us who liked it fine just the way it was.

Who’s right? The alcohol adverse who wants a drink with the alcohol safely hidden, or the alcohol experienced who appreciates the characteristics that alcohol brings to the drink?

In my mind, a “cocktail” is a drink which “celebrates” the spirit, which means that it properly positions the spirit within the rest of the ingredients so that you can taste it, and appreciate it. least that is the way it is written on my stones.


Blair Frodelius 28 May 2008
11:08 am

This discussion reminds me of a quote from David Wondrich’s “Imbibe!”

“In short, any bourbon or rye aged between four and fifteen years and bottled at 90 proof or above will work just fine (anything at lower proof would have generated adverse comment and, most likely, shooting).”

Dan Crowell 11 Jun 2008
8:07 am

You mention in the video clip that Gold tequilas have artificial colors and flavors. I knew about the addition of caramel color, but the artificial flavors thing was new to me, so I ran a question about it past the folks at Cuervo, since theirs is the best-selling gold tequila. I thought you and your viewers might be interested in their response. Here it is:

“There are NO artificial flavors in any Jose Cuervo products.
Caramel coloring is added as in most other spirits (rum, whiskey, tequila, brandy, etc)

Not only does the CRT allow it but also the regulatory liquor boards in the US and abroad as this common practice is used to standarize the color and not the flavor of the product.

Let me know if you need further clarification. Glad to answer!”

Robert Hess 11 Jun 2008
8:38 am


I perhaps should have been more specific, and detailed that “caramel coloring” that is added to “gold” tequila imparts not just a color, but a often noticeable flavor as well.

Details can be found here:

So it’s not that an artificial color and an artificial flavor are added, but that an “artificial” ingredient is added which acts both a coloring and slight flavoring agent.

Hope that clear it up.


Ivana 12 Mar 2009
11:39 am


I`m interested in your opinion on putting simple syrup in certain cocktails to “carry the flavor” of the drink.
Chris McMillan mentions it in his video of making margarita. He goes with 1,5 oz tequila ; 3/4 oz cointreau ; 3/4 oz lime juice and a dash of simple syrup “to carry the flavor”.
I made both (3:2:1 and 3:1:1 + syrup) variations, and I must say, while classic ratio highlights tequila more, the second one is more “tasty” and pleasant to drink.
Jamie Boudreau also mentions something about adding simple syrup “for the texture” of the drink.

Robert Hess 12 Mar 2009
12:57 pm

Sweetness in a drink I feel can do several different things. Just the added sweetness alone can make for a more pleasureable drink, since we tend to gravitate towards sweet things more than we do sour, but I also think in some cases it can help to “finish” the flavor. For example, some folks might take their absinthe drip without sugar, I tried for a while to do mine that way, but then when comparing it to an absinthe drip with sugar, I felt that the sugar was doing more than simply sweetening the drink, it was actually filling in a gap. It is as though the flavor were incomplete without the sugar (to me anyway).

Syrup can also add a texture to the drink as well, especially a richer syrup which has a certain viscosity to it, or even a gum syrup to which as been added gum arabic specifically to add more “body” to the syrup.

Dinah (MetaGrrrl/Bibulous) 18 Mar 2009
11:33 am

More about the science of taste & how it impacts cocktails from Darcy O’Neil here:

And Rick’s notes here

Lawrence Spies 1 Sep 2009
11:22 am

My favorite Tequila is Cavalino, Great stuff and inexpensive…also I use Damiana Liqueur in a lot of my margaritas, Mexican Folklore says it was used in the original margarita, but thats for another debate. I like it and its a great change from the same ole “triple sec/orange liqueur” routine…

charlie 16 Sep 2009
8:58 am

Hi Robert -

Why is this considered a cocktail if it doesn’t contain bitters (I suppose the same could be asked of the sidecar)?

Robert Hess 16 Sep 2009
9:38 am

The notion of a “cocktail” being required to include bitters has sort of fallen by the wayside. I don’t think that there is anybody today who is actively promoting that standard is re-established. Heck, if that was the case, then the only common drinks which would be considered cocktails would be the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Champagne Cocktail. Few other drinks (outside of dedicated “craft” bars) include bitters at all. I’m happy if folks consider cocktails to be a drink made with with attention to their culinary properties.

charlie 17 Sep 2009
9:36 am

Thanks for the quick response, Robert.

Federico Cuco 23 Feb 2010
6:13 am

Excelente Maestro!

George R. Welch 23 Feb 2010
7:12 am

I’m sorry I was too busy to get in on this discussion up front, since this is such an important drink.  Personally, I make mine 4-3-2, straight up and no salt.  But that’s just my taste.

I also want to second the plug for Cavalino.  I really don’t think there’s a better quality-to-price tequila around.

The problem is that it’s just so hard to get one of these!  It seems like I can count on one hand the number of bars that will use fresh lime juice.  I recently went to a very fancy (non chain) restaurant at one of this country’s premier ski resorts.  I wasn’t going to have a drink, but the waitress really talked up their margaritas.  So I told her that I’d be happy to have one if they made me a real margarita, and I spelled it out:  pick me any nice tequila, use Cointreau and not cheap triple-sec, and use *fresh* lime juice, straight up, no salt.  I even told her to charge whatever she liked (since I was on an expense account.)  Otherwise, just bring me a beer.

The waitress returned with a passable margarita, but she was really upset, because the bartender essentially refused to make it, and told her she’d have to mash limes herself if that’s what she wanted.

I’d guess the “world-class” margaritas they were pushing were just glasses of lime-ade with expensive tequila wasted in there.

It just points out how hard it is to get a real margarita made.  In fact, this is in line with my entire cocktail experience.  I essentially can’t stand to go out to drink anymore, since I’ve learned to make such great drinks at home.  Perhaps one bar in 100 will do things right, and it’s just not worth the pain to find those.  Sucks.


blair frodelius 23 Feb 2010
8:01 am


I was out with some friends the other night at a bar that literally had hundreds of spirits.  They had eight different cachacas and five kinds of absinthe for instance.  I asked the bartender to make me a drink with something unusual in it.  He ended up making me a genever, lime juice and simple syrup on the rocks.  Pretty cool.  When the bartender asked what everyone else wanted, they opted for Belgian beer. 

Later on I asked why they didn’t order any cocktails, they said it was because they knew they could get better ones from me at my home bar.  A compliment, but also a bit disappointing in a way.  I’ve got these people spoiled!


Blair Frodelius

Greg Patenaude 1 Mar 2010
9:52 am


Great episode as always.  One of my favorite drinks to boot.  I have a question though.  Wouldn’t a 3:2:1 ratio be 2oz tequila, 1oz cointreau (rather than 11/3oz) and 2/3 oz of lime juice?  Or am I missing something?


Robert Hess 1 Mar 2010
10:47 am

Greg, it’s a math issue… If you treat “2 oz” as “3 parts”, that means a single part is 2/3 of an ounce. and 2 parts is 1 1/3 ounce. Which gives the recipe as presented, even if 1/3 ounce measures are fairly rare in cocktails.

Greg Patenaude 1 Mar 2010
11:35 am


Thanks for the quick reply.  I was looking at it the wrong way.  Instead of starting with the 2/3 oz and going up, I started with the 2 oz and went down.  This is why I never did well in math.  Ah well, the only to do now is to have a drink!

Bottoms up!


Ian 6 Mar 2010
3:14 pm

I just did a taste test between a “Grand” Margarita (made with Grand Marnier) and a regular Margarita (made with Cointreau). I used the same proportions and two halves of the same lime (with 1800 Silver tequila). I definitely found the one made with Cointreau to taste better, though I struggle to say exactly why. The one with Cointreau is more balanced, with a sharper and more pronounced kick to it, whereas the one with Grand Marnier is somehow softer and too round in taste.

I know one in principle should use less Grand Marnier than Cointreau if substituting, but I do think Cointreau works best.

Robert Hess 6 Mar 2010
4:50 pm

Yes, that’s the same way I find it as well. It’s not that Grand Marnier isn’t as good of a product, nor is it that Cointreau is better in cocktails than Grand Marnier. It’s just that for this particular cocktail, to get the right flavor profile, Cointreau provides a better character than Grand Marnier.

George R. Welch 7 Mar 2010
7:09 am

The reason I prefer Cointreau to Gran Marnier is because the Gran Marnier, by bringing brandy into the equation, adds a little extra complexity.  Sometimes that’s a good thing, but with a refreshingly simple drink like a Margarita I think it’s out of place.  To me, drinking a Margarita should be a relaxing experience that makes your mouth say “tequila”.  With Gran Marnier, there is more going on and it’s distracting :-).

I think the reason bars often call this a “cadillac” Margarita is because you’re getting Gran Marnier instead of some disgusting bottom-shelf triple-sec, not because it is substituting for Cointreau, which costs almost as much.

So, I’d usually choose Cointreau over Gran Marnier, but I’d take Gran Marnier over the discount triple-sec every time.

Unfortunately, most bars just dump them into 12 oz of lime-ade with a shot of tequila, and then I can’t tell the difference.

pdub 18 May 2010
9:17 am

Robert, thank you for all your fantastic videos that you have provided on this site.
I do have one bone to pick on this particular one however.  Never should a margarita be made with a cheap mixto tequila such as Sauza blanco.  Always use tequila that is 100% blue agave.  Mixtos such as Sauza blanco and Cuervo gold are only 51% tequila with the rest being sugar alcohol for filler. They are cheaply made, taste bad and are the recipe for a hangover.  Any cocktail worth making is worth quality ingredients all around.  If you are going to spend the money for Cointreau, why skimp on the tequila?  There are many great tequilas out there that are very reasonbly priced-Cazadores, Milagro etc.

Robert Hess 18 May 2010
9:34 am

pdub, I agree, a good cocktail starts with good ingredients. Picking the “right” ingredient can be trickey. Especially with as misunderstood of a product as Tequila. Since I try to tailor my shows to folks who may just be starting to understand an appreciate cocktails, I try to provide a balance of cost versus quality. Cointreau is fairly expensive, and I already get a lot of flack from folks for not focusing on something cheaper. But not only does it make a big difference when used properly, but it also isn’t the “majority” ingredient, and so its high cost is tempered a bit by that fact.
With the “spirit” component for my drinks however, it is a tougher choice. I totally agree that there are silver tequilas which are far better than Sauza blanco. However, at least here in Washington State, to get to one of those means stepping up to >$35 a bottle unfortunately. I feel that using Sauza silver allows me to introduce folks to these drinks at a price they can afford, and at the same time get them thinking about using a “silver” instead of a “gold”.
In future episodes I plan on discussing more about selecting your products, and how to better understand when, and how, to upgrade.
But I definately second your opinion that something like a silver Cazadores, Milagro, Don Julio, etc would make a far better drink than a Sauza silver… and I will also freely admit that Tequila is one of those products which I don’t personally have as wide of an experience with as I do whiskey or gin, where you will see I am much more likely to use a slightly more upscale product.

pdub 18 May 2010
9:52 am

Thanks for your response Robert.  I am a bit spoiled here in Colorado as we have access to a great variety of tequilas.  This struck a chord with me because tequila is a spirit that I am very passionate about—I’ve been bartending for the last six years in an amazing tequila bar with over 160 different tequilas.  Unfortunately, as you aptly put it, it is a very misunderstood spirit.  It is one though that people are becoming more educated on and beginning to experience the amazing variety and complexity that it offers.  If people have access to them at their local liquor stores, 30-30 and Pueblo Viejo are two that are very inexpensive (~$18 for the blanco) are very well made & 100% agave.
If you find yourself in Boulder, stop in and I will give you a tour through some of the amazing brands on our shelves!

Dinah (MetaGrrrl/Bibulous) 18 May 2010
10:05 am

Robert, it would be really fun if you’d suggest an “upgrade” for some ingredients, either in the video or in the notes.

We faced a similar challenge in our building your home bar series of posts on and ended up with the same solution: a decent, not-too-pricy recommendation as a starting point.

Ian 18 May 2010
10:23 am

For anyone in California, Trader Joe’s has 1 liter of 1800 Silver tequila at $19.99 and 750 ml Milagro Silver also at $19.99. Both are decent 100% agave products and very good value at those prices. I do not know about availability in stores outside CA.

I have to say that in CA also we are spoiled for choice where spirits are concerned.

Nick L. 11 Sep 2010
2:15 pm


I’m a big fan of the show.  I find myself checking back here almost daily just to watch the videos and read through the comments.  It’s fun to see how other people, including yourself, interpret some of my favorite cocktails.

I’m a little perturbed, however, by your use of Sauza “silver” (I refuse to call it “blanco” as that should be a term reserved for only 100% agave tequilas).  I see a pattern of you using Sauza products, but I’m not going to infer any patronage by a certain tequila manufacturer, if you will, but at least in your other cocktails you use Hornitos (though it’s still not what I would consider a quality tequila, it’s 100% agave).

Usually your recipes are spot-on, but I can’t help but disagree with the ingredients in this one, save the lime juice.  Why use such a poor tequila then dump Cointreau and fresh lime juice in it?  I think we can liken this to putting premium gasoline in a Geo Metro and expecting it to run better.  Fact is: it will never be good.

Some people prefer blancos to reposados for margaritas.  Personally, I don’t see it.  Of course, I’m a tequila fiend so I really love being able to relate to the tequila I’m drinking in my margarita; I find blanco tequilas often get washed out by the other ingredients in the drink.  A good reposado is much better suited for this cocktail: Gran Centenario, Corralejo, Chinaco, Muchote, Don Julio, and (for the budget conscious) Cazadores to name a few.  Obviously the list goes on…

Also, instead of using Cointreau, I find a much fresher tasting margarita can be had by lightly muddling some orange (including the peel but careful not to destroy it and release pith into the drink) in a shaker with the lime juice.  Sure, using an orange liqueur is easier, but cocktails respond to quality ingredients and a little TLC.

And chalk me up as a big fan of agave nectar; remember those agave notes I said get washed out amidst the other ingredients in a margarita?  This is how you help reintroduce them.  I also like how agave nectar is sweeter than sugar so you can use less and avoid too syrupy of a texture in your cocktail.

For me, a proper margarita is made as follows:

2 oz. quality reposado tequila (good liquors make good cocktails!)
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 oz. light agave nectar

Lightly muddle 1/8 of a Hamlin orange (or Valencia) with lime juice and agave nectar until orange oils are noticeably expressed from the skin.  Discard orange, add tequila and ice.  Shake and serve.

This recipe even tastes delicious without the orange for those who love a tart, lip-pucker bite.

Sorry the for the long-winded response, I just wanted to chime in on one of my all-time favorites.

Great show, as always!  Can’t wait for more.

Robert Hess 13 Sep 2010
8:44 am

Nick, Thanks for the comments and ideas. I used Sauza in this drink in an attempt to show the use of a budget minded ingredient. Sauza silver is a “well” tequila, plain and simple. To an affecienado it is inconcievable, but to the beginner it is an easy place to start, and better than some other budget brands they might pick up. The Margarita is such a “standard” drink that people want to make, that I was wanting to make this as approachable as possible. In this type of recipe, I would much rather spend my money on the Cointreau, and save it on the tequila, than to buy a $40 tequila, and then kill the drink with a $10 triple sec.

I’m not terribly crazy with orange juice in general in drinks, I feel it flattens them out too much. Orange oils on the other hand are a different story. But I’ll play around with your particular approach for the Margarita and see if it fairs better.


Ian 13 Sep 2010
10:13 am

I made Nick’s recipe a couple of times over the weekend and I quite liked the result. I find that 3 1/3 oz of spirits in a drink makes it a bit too alcoholic and so I have been interested in lower alcohol Margarita recipes. My own slight variations were to use 1800 Silver tequila (I don’t have any reposado), and to use a little more orange. I have not liked any cocktail with orange juice I have tried before, but in this case the sweetness seems to blend with the lime and it balances out. I will be making more of these for sure.

Nick L. 13 Sep 2010
12:07 pm


I understand your reasons for using Sauza.  Budget tequilas are easily had and most people aren’t ready to fork over a whole lot of cash for a liquor that, quite honestly, I’ve found most people are too keen on (mostly because they’ve had bad college experiences with Jose Cuervo :) )

Even I can’t deny that I first started out with cheap-o Sauza and eventually developed a taste for better tequilas, so I guess I can’t assume that anyone first starting out to make this drink would be any different!  My mistake.  I do agree that this recipe is a fine starting place; as far as I’m concerned, any margarita recipe that circumvents the use of sour mix for fresh juices is already out of the ordinary.

I do agree with your statement about orange juice as well, which is why I often choose to leave it out entirely.  People try to tell me that the margarita is just a sidecar with tequila and lime juice, but when agave nectar is introduced to the drink, I find omitting orange flavors entirely is not such a bad thing.  But I still make it for people who prefer the little bit of orange.

Thanks for the reply!


I’m glad you liked the recipe and I’m excited that you’ve built your own interpretation of it as well!  1800 Silver is good introductory 100% agave tequila, but I find it’s often overpriced because of its name.  I’ve often been able to find Milagro silver for a few dollars less (sometimes less than $20 per bottle) than 1800; I believe it’s a better tequila and it makes a darn fine margarita….there’s no arguing that!

Ian 13 Sep 2010
12:33 pm

Indeed the first bottle of 1800 Silver I bought was quite expensive, but recently Trader Joe’s here in CA has started carrying the larger 1 liter bottle at $19.99. I feel it is a bargain at that price. TJ also has Milagro silver at $19.99, but that is the regular 750 ml bottle. I like both.

While on the subject of Trader Joe’s, they also carry two kinds of agave nectar (“agave sweetener” they call it), one of which is a raw organic product.

charlie 13 Sep 2010
1:19 pm

Nick - Your recipe sounds delicious and I will be trying it soon (I hope tonight! Gotta get to the grocery store) but I can’t help thinking that, by omitting the orange liqueur completely and substituting agave nectar and muddled orange, it shouldn’t be called a margarita at all. Maybe a Mexican Gimlet?

Nick L. 13 Sep 2010
2:03 pm

A lot of people think the margarita has to follow the sidecar (supplementing brandy and lemon juice of course), but I don’t think so.  Technically the margarita is a sour.  Cointreau essentially combines the citrus and sweetness together, whereas I prefer to deconstruct it a little, sans the liquor content of the liqueur.  I don’t think that makes it any less of a margarita.

If you follow my alternative recipe of getting rid of the orange altogether, then maybe it is a Mexican Gimlet.  And cheers to that; gimlets are delicious!

blair frodelius 14 Sep 2010
2:15 pm

All this talk about orange juice got me to thinking about cocktails that use it.  So tonight, I’m having a Satan’s Whiskers and am finding that (as with almost all) drinks that use a decent quantity of orange juice, the drink seems very flat and one dimensional.  It’s almost as if the orange juice acts as a type of orange flavored simple syrup.  I’m thinking that using a combination of either Cointreau or Grand Marnier (or similar quality orange flavored liqueur) along with orange bitters and a lesser amount of juice will brighten up the drink to the point where it seems alive.

Just my 2 cents.

Oh, and I like the idea of muddled orange peel in a Margarita!  Very clever.


Blair Frodelius

Haiden Goodman 31 Dec 2010
11:48 pm

Hmm… You mention a traditional margarita being made with cointreau, but isn’t a traditional margarita made with tequila, agave nectar, and lime juice? It’s a very different flavor, but the agave nectar pairs perfectly with the tequila and is the recipe I’ve gotten from families in mexico. I use cointreau sometimes, but I prefer it with the agave.

Robert Hess 3 Jan 2011
7:57 am

By “Traditionally”, I mean according to all known stories and details regarding the origins of the Margarita. In all of them, regardless of who, when, where, they attribute at least Triple Sec, if not Cointreau specifically, as the sweetening agent. Now perhaps there was some form of a drink which predates these stories which used agave nectar, but to date I haven’t seen one. Agave nectar can make a great tequila drink, but in my book it isn’t a Margarita if that is it’s only sweetening agent.

Alan 30 Jul 2011
3:48 pm

Getting a 100% agave tequila at an affordable price in the same way you can get a good gin or whiskey is hard.

Here in Ireland the cheapest 100% agave tequila is Arette at about $44 (€30). This I would consider affordable. As I say though, this is the cheapest, the price sky rockets after that with many costing upwards of $70. In the UK it’s slightly better but still the proliferation of mixtos such as Jose Cuevero I think does more to harm tequila. Demand isn’t created for more quality tequilas since people are going for the cheap stuff and I think the cheap stuff can turn people off tequila.

I just think it’s unfortunate, I mean you can pick up plenty of quality rums without breaking the bank, same with gin and when it comes to whisky there is ample promotion of Scottish single-malt and better quality whiskies which I think helps the industry greatly.

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