The classic Margarita is one of the most popular cocktails in the world. It’s also one of the easiest cocktails to craft at home with just three ingredients and no special bar tools.
Who doesn’t have a Margarita story?
Most of those stories involve imbibing Margaritas in bars, on beach vacations or during Cinco de Mayo, a celebration that grew in popularity (fueled by beer and liquor company promotions) during the 1980s, parties.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Crafting classic Margaritas requires no unique skills. Instead, the key is to commit the drink’s ingredient ratio to memory.
What Is A Classic Margarita?
A classic Margarita isn’t fruity-tooty. It’s not crafted with Margarita mix and it doesn’t have an ingredient list as long as your arm.
Instead, a classic Margarita is a shaken sour cocktail crafted with just three ingredients – tequila, triple sec and lime juice. Some mixologists, including us, choose to salt the cocktail’s glass – an optional yet necessary add-on.
Discover more sour cocktails to craft at home.
Crafting a classic Margarita at home is all about the ingredient ratio.
Our Margarita recipe uses a 2:1:1 ratio of tequila, triple sec and lime juice to achieve a balanced sip. You can go heavier on the tequila or lighter on the lime juice but, at the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference.
To us, the 2:1:1 ratio hits the inimitable Margarita flavor sweet spot where sour lime, sweet orange and earthy agave combine to create a drink better than the sum if its parts.
History Of The Margarita
You might think that the Margarita was invented in Mexico and you’re probably right. Unless you’re wrong. Yes, the Margarita is another cocktail whose history is a mystery.
Although the Margarita is associated with America’s neighbor to the south, it’s unclear where the first Margarita was crafted. Cities like Ensenada, Juárez and Tijuana are top contenders for the honor. However, what is clear, is the drink’s popularity.
The tequila cocktail was popular long before Michael Madsen whipped up a frozen version in Kill Bill Volume 2 in 2004 or when the movie Practical Magic made “Midnight Margaritas” a thing in 1988. It even predates Jimmy Buffet lamenting about his lost shaker of salt in 1977 by decades.
The classic Margarita recipe only requires the following ingredients:
You may already have all of these items in your pantry and liquor cabinet. If not, you should be able to find them locally regardless of where you live.
Two of the classic Margarita’s ingredients are liquors – blanco (white) tequila and triple sec. While you can and should use your favorite brands, we use Jose Cuervo Especial tequila made with blue agave and Cointreau in our recipe.
Distilled in Mexico, Jose Cuervo Especial tequila has a 38% ABV. Although it’s not the best tequila for sipping, the entry-level tequila is just fine for crafting cocktails.
Discover our favorite tequila cocktails.
And, while there’s nothing wrong with Grand Marnier and Orange Curaçao, Cointreau is our favorite triple sec. Made in France, the balanced liqueur has a 40% ABV.
Discover our favorite Cointreau cocktails.
How To Craft A Classic Margarita
You have a decision to make before you craft your classic Margarita. Do your want a salt rim or not? If you’re on the fence, we say go for it. It’s an easy move that provides big briny returns.
Making a salt rim is easy. Just rub a lime wedge along the rim and then dip your glass onto a plate topped with salt. Swirl the glass in the salt before setting it aside to dry.
Once you make your salt rim (or not), measure the two liquors and pour them directly into a shaker. We use a Japanese Jigger for this step to both ensure accurate measurements and minimize spillage.
Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you need a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Pour the fresh lime juice into the same shaker.
Although you could hypothetically use store-bought lime juice, there’s nothing better than using the fresh stuff.
Add ice and shake until the ingredients are chilled and combined. This step should take 10 to 20 seconds.
Strain the shaken cocktail into an ice-filled glass of your choice.
Garnish with a lime wheel or wedge.
Once you perfect this easy classic Margarita recipe, the options for modifying it are practically endless. Here are a few ideas to get you started on a quest for your favorite version:
Discover 10 essential bar tools for the home mixologist.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Margarita was probably invented in Mexico. However, the classic tequila’s exact history is a mystery.
The Classic Margarita is a shaken sour cocktail crafted with just three ingredients – tequila, triple sec and lime juice.
Blanco Tequila, Triple Sec, Lime Juice, Coarse Salt (for rim), Lime Wedge (for rim), Lime Wheel (for garnish) and Ice Cubes
The Classic Margarita is shaken, not stirred.
Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.
Classic Margarita Recipe
- 2 ounces blanco tequila
- 1 ounce triple sec
- 1 ounce lime juice (freshly squeezed)
- coarse salt (for salt rim)
- lime wedge (for salt rim)
- ice cubes
- lime wedge or wheel (for garnish)
- Pour coarse salt on a small round plate.
- Rub lime wedge around the rim of a glass and then dip the glass into the salt, twirling the glass until the rim is well coated. Set the glass aside.
- Combine tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker.
- Add several ice cubes and shake vigorously until liquids are chilled and mixed.
- Add ice to the coated glass and then strain the shaken cocktail into the glass.
- Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel.
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: February 2, 2022