Recipe Review

All About Margaritas Straight Up Cocktails and Spirits

updated Jan 29, 2020
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner. Why not get things started a little early this weekend with a Margarita?

A cool, thirst-quenching combination of tart and sweet, accented by the warmth of tequila and the savory piquancy of salt, the Margarita is the perfect drink for a warm evening. But which recipe to choose?

I’m going to tell you my absolute favorite way to mix one, but then I want to hear yours….


There are many competing stories about how the Margarita came to be. It might have been created in Mexico…or Texas…or California…and have been named after the Hollywood starlet Marjorie “Margarita” King…or a bar manager’s salt-loving girlfriend…or the flamboyant inventor herself….

In any case, the Margarita is a relative latecomer to the cocktail pantheon. It seems to have got its start sometime in the 1930s or 1940s, but didn’t really hit its stride until the 1970s, when it began to enjoy all the popularity it has today.


Like other drinks in the sours family (such as the Classic Daiquiri and Sidecar), the Classic Margarita is a mixture of alcohol (tequila), fresh citrus juice (lime), and a sweetener (in this case, the orange-flavored liqueur, triple sec). Margaritas are usually prepared in a cocktail shaker and served straight up in a cocktail glass, although they’re also frequently served on the rocks, as pictured above.

The slushy, blender-drink version made with pureed ice.

Flavored Margaritas
In addition to the tequila, lime, and triple sec, a fourth ingredient such as a fruit juice (pomegranate, strawberry, etc) or other seasoning (such as tamarind, as in the pic above) is added to the mix.

The Margarita can be “batched” or made as a pitcher drink to serve a crowd. We’ve covered this here at The Kitchn before with Sara Kate’s recipe.


Recipe proportions vary widely. I took a quick survey of Classic Margarita recipes from some of the cocktail books I have at home, each written by a well-known mixologist, and found quite a range in the ratios:

Dale Degroff: 6:4:3 (1 1/2 ounces tequila, 1 ounce triple sec, 3/4 ounce lime juice)
Gary Regan: 3:2:1 (1 1/2 ounces tequila, 1 ounce triple sec, 1/2 lime juice)
David Wondrich: 2:1:1 (2 ounces tequila, 1 ounce triple sec, 1 ounce lime juice)
Salvatore Calabrese: 3:2:3 (1 ounce tequila, 2/3 ounce triple sec, 1 ounce lime juice)

Tarter? Sweeter? Boozier? Take your pick.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


Among all these many possible styles, my personal favorite is the Classic, prepared individually in a cocktail shaker with a quality silver tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice, and Cointreau (this combo is sometimes known as the “Silver Coin,” standing for silver tequila and Cointreau), served in a salt-rimmed glass. As far as ratios go, I like to make mine on the tarter side, and not too boozy – so I can have another. Nothing like it on a hot night.

Classic Margarita (adapted from Salvatore Calabrese’s Classic Cocktails)
makes one drink

1 ounce good quality silver tequila (I like Patron Silver)
2/3 ounce triple sec (I recommend Cointreau)
1 ounce fresh lime juice
Kosher salt for rimming the glass (optional)

Salt the rim of a cocktail glass. Combine the tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into the cocktail glass.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite take on the Margarita?

(Images: Nora Maynard)