Margarita Recipes: 101 

Margarita Recipes: 101 

Team Spirits lays out the building blocks for executing everyone’s favorite agave sour. 


Though most can agree that a Margarita is delicious, passionate opinions arise when discussing how best to make one. Ostensibly a straightforward cocktail composed of tequila, citrus, and sugar (in the form of syrup or liqueur), variations in proportion and type of sweetener can make or break the cocktail’s balance or notably alter its character. The trickiest part? Whether you err on the side of dry and bracing or rich and fruit-forward, the true success of this classic is in the eye (or rather, on the palate) of the beholder; no one way is the only right way to make a margarita when accounting for personal preference.

Therefore, it may be useful to look at some of the core variations referenced when executing this timeless, agave-based sour. Then, with your Margarita CliffsNotes in hand, you simply need to decide for yourself which interpretation you choose to champion.

*Two notes about the following recipes:

  1. Any of these Margaritas can be enjoyed with a salted rim; simply rub a wedge of lime on the outside rim of your glass and roll the glass in coarse salt.
  2. We’ve defaulted to serving our Margaritas on the rocks, but they could easily be enjoyed served up. If that is your preference, make sure to give them a good, hard shake, and keep in mind that these boozy sours pack a punch and drinking neat can sometimes encourage faster imbibing. Cuidado!

CLASSIC MARGARITA

Margarita Recipes: 101  1Bright and bracing, the original Margarita benefits from orange liqueur in a healthy dose.

Traditionally, triple secs and curaçaos are high in proof compared to other fruit liqueurs, so rather than becoming overly sweet, this drink hits a zenith of unapologetic citrus while maintaining a dry edge.

Just take care—this classic spec makes for a deceivingly boozy drink.

Combine ingredients in a mixing tin and shake with ice. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

TOMMY’S MARGARITA

Julio Bermejo, Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, San Francisco, Early 90’s; Amended for Skurnik

Margarita Recipes: 101  4The original recipe for a Tommy’s Margarita calls for agave nectar in place of orange liqueur.

Here we’ve substituted cane syrup made in Martinique, not only because it’s delicious, but because it’s produced more sustainably. This spec is perfect for those that enjoy their Margaritas with a bit more mouthfeel and a bit less booze.

Do the proportions look familiar? It’s our go-to for daiquiris (another of our favorite Sours).

Combine ingredients in a mixing tin and shake with ice. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

PASSION FRUIT MARGARITA

Margarita Recipes: 101  3Once you get the hang of a margarita’s general build, it’s easy to spice things up with a variation in liqueur. Just remember that sugar content and ABV can vary wildly between brands, so you may have to tweak your measurements for balance. (If you’re unsure what to expect, start with .75 oz of the liqueur on hand; you can always add more or supplement with a little simple syrup to get the right mouthfeel without overwhelming the drink with the flavor of your liqueur.)

Giffard’s Passion Fruit, though richer than the Triple Sec, retains the lovely acidity of its base ingredient, so here, our original proportions have remained unaltered.

Combine ingredients in a mixing tin and shake with ice. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

CADILLAC MARGARITA

Margarita Recipes: 101  2Born of the 80s and a desire to make cocktails with top-notch ingredients (and we feel for that decade—delicious tequilas and liqueurs weren’t nearly as easy to get your hands on as they are now), the Cadillac Margarita is meant to feel just a bit more decadent than the original.

To that end, we employ a tequila aged just over six months and an orange liqueur with a brandy base (a nice nod to the Margarita’s original Daisy heritage.) The resulting drink feels enticingly sultry though still refreshing.

Combine ingredients in a mixing tin and shake with ice. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with a wedge of lime.