A Proper “Frozen” Margarita

As David Wondrich says in Esquire Drinks, “Cocktails should not remind you of childhood; therein lies problems.” Friends coming over for a party? Sure, make a pitcher of Margaritas. Just remember to leave the blender out of it.


3 parts silver Tequila

2 parts Cointreau

1 part lime juice


For a pitcher of Margaritas, stir all ingredients with ice to chill and dilute.

Strain out ice and store mix in the fridge until time to serve.

Crush ice in a Lewis Bag, cotton napkin or bar towel.

Pour Margarita mix over crushed ice in individual glasses to serve.


AaronWalls 29 Dec 2013
12:06 am

Excellent video. Question: Our shop carries a triple sec called Harlequin. It’s an orange & cognac triple in a similar vein to Cointreau and Grand Marnier, but about half the price. Have you tried it? To my palate, it is difficult to distinguish between them, especially when mixed in a proper cocktail. I know you’re a big proponent of Cointreau. Thoughts?

Robert Hess 2 Jan 2014
3:57 pm

Aaron… Yes, I am familiar with Harlequin, but still feel that Cointreau has a flavor which works better in most cocktails which call for triple sec. It is important to remember that while there can be some confusion between “triple sec” and “curacao”, there is (or should be) a difference between the two. Triple Sec has a neutral grain spirit base with just orange added to it, while curacao is (typically) brand/cognac based with orange and “sometimes” additional flavors added for accent. This makes a triple sec more of a bright and distinctive flavor, and curacao a more mellow rounded flavor.

I always recommend folks do blind tastings when trying to zero in on the product they should use, especially when you are wanting to know if the higher cost of Cointreau is justified for your usage! The goal should never be to identify which drink has which product in it, but just which drink you prefer, as well as how much of a difference you think it makes. If you prefer Cointreau over Harlequin, but only by the tiniest of margins, then perhaps it makes sense to continue using Harlequin.

Dylan Popowicz 10 Jun 2014
11:29 pm

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the great video. As someone new to the world of the cocktail, it’s nice to learn the proper method to making a lot of the more common drinks. Your mojito video, for one, has helped me surprise a few friends - one who previously hadn’t at all liked the previous mojitos that she had experienced.

You’ve partially answered my question above, but I was wondering if you could give your opinion on the possibility of using Grand Marnier and Cointraue interchangeably. I’m a “poor” graduate student, and I can’t afford to have a bottle of both on hand - would it be completely unthinkable of me to use one in the place of both in recipes (and perhaps replacing any need for triple sec and curaçao too)? Again, I’m completely new to this, and I’m simply trying to experience/learn as many different recipes as possible, even if it means that I don’t quite get the complete experience every time.

Also, any ideas on a cheaper absinthe to use in cocktails - and I simply mean those that call for a dash, or ones in which you have used an atomiser (I really want to try a Sazerac for example).

Thanks again. Keep up the good work.

Robert Hess 11 Jun 2014
10:36 am

Dylan, glad you enjoyed the video!

I totally understand the need to be mindful of liquor costs when you are outfitting your bar. When I first starting getting into cocktails I often gravitated toward the cheaper products hoping that it wouldn’t make “that” much difference. It was with the “Sidecar” one of the first drinks I played around with, that I learned my lesson and from that point on always had a bottle of Cointreau on hand which I would use for any drink that called for “Triple Sec”.

Technically, Grand Mariner is a Curaçao, which can be considered as rounder in flavor than a triple sec. Try two sidecars, one with Cointreau and one with Grand Mariner, and you’ll see the difference.

For cocktails I totally recommend keeping Cointreau on hand, and use it for any drink that calls for either Cointreau or Triple Sec. For drinks that call for Curaçao, I recommend actually using Curaçao instead of Grand Mariner. Marie Brizard is a great brand if you can find it, if not, then BOLs. I rarely use Grand Mariner at all, mostly for sipping straight instead of in cocktails.

As for absinthe… good absinthe is indeed expensive. The cheaper “absinthe” products aren’t really that good, sometimes even pretty bad. Of the less expensive versions, Lucid is probably the safest one to go with. It is real absinthe, and overall pretty good, just lacking the complexities I like when drinking it as a drip, but in cocktails it works well. Otherwise you could use Pernod or Ricard “Pastis”, which was what absinthe was replaced by when it first became illegal. For some great absinthe information I recommend checking out the Wormwood Society (http://wormwoodsociety.org/). Gwydion Stone runs it, and also makes Marteau absinthe (http://absinthemarteau.com), and as I recall he was planning on coming out with a smaller bottling just to address the issue you are having here.

Dylan Popowicz 11 Jun 2014
2:49 pm

Robert, thank you so much for the prompt reply.

I’ll certainly follow your lead and acquire a bottle of Cointreau, curaçao, and I’ll settle for a Pernod or Picard on the absinthe front. I’ll keep an eye out on the absinthe front - I know the bottle will last a long time, but it’s still a hefty sum to fork out in one go. 

Thanks for the excellent advice, and keep up the great work!

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