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Classic Margarita Recipe

This classic margarita recipe is perfect. There, I said it.

It’s the ideal blend of sweet, salty, and sour. And between the fresh citrus, tequila, and salt-rimmed glass, it’s the best way to start the weekend. 

Dare I say this classic margarita is better than the margs at Mexican restaurants? I’ll let you be the judge of that!

Classic Lime Margarita with Tequila and Sea Salt
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Classic Margarita

There are so many margarita recipes out there; it can get overwhelming for new mixologists.

Frozen, spicy, fruity, smoky – how do you choose?

Well, how about starting with the OG? The margarita that started it all and made a whole generation of millennial women dance the night away.

The classic margarita is one of the most popular cocktails in the world because it strikes a perfect balance of sweet, tart, and salty. 

The fresh lime cuts through the potency of tequila, and Triple Sec delivers the perfect amount of sweetness.

Lastly, the salt enhances those flavors to perfection. 

While its origins are unclear – I’ve heard at least a dozen stories! – many people believe it rose to popularity in the States during prohibition. 

US residents traveled south of the border to get a little boozy. And while they were there, they discovered the margarita. 

And the rest is history. 

Two Boozy and Refreshing Margaritas on a table with lime wedges

Ingredients 

A perfect classic margarita requires a few simple ingredients. And since you only need a few things, make sure to get mid-top shelf bottles!

Trust me, you’ll taste the difference.

  • Tequila: Blanco tequila (or Silver tequila) is popular because it’s crisp and clean. I prefer Reposado because it’s more complex. Choose what you think tastes best and go for brands like Patron, Don Julio, and Espolon.
  • Orange Liqueur: Orange liquor is the key behind this drink’s sweetness and citrus flavor. Cointreau or Grand Marnier are best, but Triple Sec works, too.  
  • Lime Juice: Fresh is always best!
  • Ice: Like most cocktails, this is best served ice cold. So don’t be shy – fill the glass!
  • Coarse Salt: You could say this is optional. But ask any margarita fanatic, and they’ll tell you otherwise (It’s me. Hi. I’m the fanatic). The saltiness makes all the bold, sweet, and citrus flavors sing.
  • Lime Wedge: For a pop of color and an extra citrus kick.
  • Agave Nectar: Orange liquor is delicately sweet but not very potent. And some limes are more sour than others. So, if you want your drink sweet, add agave nectar or simple syrup.
Classic Margarita on the rocks with a salted rim and lime wedge garnish

How to Make a Margarita

Here’s a quick rundown on how to make the perfect margarita at home. Jump to the bottom of the post for more details.

1. Chill the glass. Place the glass in the freezer for 15 minutes. Or fill it with ice and water (which you’ll toss out before serving).

2. Prepare the glass. Run a lime wedge around the rim and dip it in the coarse salt.  

3. Get shaking. Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add tequila, orange liquor, and lime juice. Shake for 20 seconds, or until the cocktail shaker is cool to the touch. 

4. Add sweetener (optional). If using, add it to the mix and shake again for 10 seconds.

5. Pour and serve. Strain the drink into the chilled glass. Add a lime wedge, serve, and enjoy!

Tips for the Best Margarita 

Check out these quick and easy tips to make your margarita Mexican restaurant worthy:

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  • No cocktail shaker? No problem! Stir the ingredients in a pitcher or a jar with ice, and no one will know the difference. 
  • Serve a crowd. Multiply the recipe and mix everything in a pitcher without the ice. Keep it in the fridge until ready. Serve with ice-filled, salt-rimmed glasses.
  • Make it spicy. Muddle a few jalapeño slices in the shaker before making the drink. Also, add Tajin to the rim.
  • Try a smoky drink. Use mezcal instead of tequila for a super deep flavor.
  • Try a mocktail. Leave out the tequila and mix lime juice, orange juice, and club soda over ice.
Two Glasses of Iced Maragarita Garnished With Salt and Lime Slice

How Much Alcohol Is in a Classic Margarita? 

Classic margarita recipes use a 2:1:1 ratio. That’s two parts tequila, one part lime juice, and one part orange liquor. 

This makes for one potent margarita (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

One serving has three ounces, which is the equivalent of two shots of tequila!

If you prefer a less-potent margarita, opt for a 1:1:1 ratio. 

How Do You Make a Frozen Margarita?

Want to make a Mexican restaurant-like frozen margarita at home? You don’t need a fancy margarita machine to recreate this classic. 

Instead of piling everything into a cocktail shaker, add it to your blender. Pulse for 10 seconds at a time until the margarita reaches the right consistency.

Easy peasy. 

More Classic Cocktails You’ll Love

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Old Fashioned
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7 and 7

Classic Margarita Recipe

Course: DrinksCuisine: Mexican
Servings

1

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Calories

220

kcal

This classic margarita recipe is perfect. With fresh citrus, good-quality tequila, and a salt-rimmed glass, it’s the best way to start the weekend.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces mid-top shelf tequila (Blanco or Reposado)

  • 1 ounce orange liqueur (Triple Sec or Cointreau)

  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

  • Ice

  • coarse salt for rimming the glass

  • 1 lime wedge for garnish

  • optional: 1/2 ounce agave nectar or simple syrup, to taste

Instructions

  • Freeze the glass for 10-15 minutes until well-chilled. Or fill it with ice water.
  • Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add the tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice.
  • Shake for 20 seconds. If using, add the sweetener and shake for an additional 10 seconds.
  • Take the glass out of the freezer or discard the ice water.
  • Pour the salt onto a small plate or saucer.
  • Run a lime wedge around the rim of the chilled glass, then dip the top into the salt.
  • Fill the glass with fresh ice and strain the drink into the glass.
  • Garnish with a wedge of lime, and enjoy!

Notes

  • Use high-quality blanco tequila for a crisp Classic Margarita. Use Reposado if you want more depth. Brands like Patron, Don Julio, or Espolon give great flavor.
  • Cointreau is one of the best orange liqueurs around because of its balanced sweetness and prominent orange flavor.
  • Always use freshly squeezed lime juice for the best results.
Classic Margarita Recipe

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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