Classic Margarita

Classic Margarita on The Creekside CookHappy National Margarita Day!

I bet you didn’t know it was Margarita Day, did you? Well, that is why I am here – to help you out on occasions such as this, where you might otherwise miss an important event. I mean, you don’t want to get to work on Monday morning and have someone ask you “What did you do for National Margarita Day this year?”, and have nothing to tell them, do you?

Dios mío, no! I could not let that happen to you!

But, here is the thing about Margaritas – it is very easy to mess them up. Not because they are complicated – quite the opposite. It is because a really good Margarita is a very simple thing: tequila, lime juice, cointreau, salt. They should be strong and tart and refreshing.

If your limes are very sour, you might sweeten the lime juice slightly – I like to use honey or agave for this, rather than sugar. Sugar never really dissolves in cold liquids, so a lot of sweetened drinks are made with simple syrup, which is a mixture of sugar and water, heated until the sugar dissolves, then chilled. But simple syrup dilutes the lime juice too much for me – it takes some stirring, but honey and agave will both dissolve right in the fresh, cold lime juice.

Sometimes you find limes that are already sweet enough and then, the bit of sweetness in cointreau, which is an orange flavored liqueur will suffice.

And if you care anything about tradition [or your palate!] avoid those nasty mixes they sell in the grocery store. They are truly horrible – overly sweet, junked-up with who knows what sort of artificial flavors and colors. Juicing a few limes doesn’t take that much effort and if a thing is worth doing [or drinking] it’s worth doing right.

We have a couple of local places that make particularly good Margaritas, so, playing the food blogger card, I asked the bartenders there how they make theirs. They were in agreement about the essentials.

ingredients for a classic margarita
In the end, a good Margarita is a question of proportions. It is a simple formula: 2 – 1 – ½ .
2 parts tequila, 1 part lime juice, ½ part cointreau. I like to measure in ounces, because the correct proportions, measured as 2 ounces, 1 ounce, ½ ounces make the perfect sized drink for the glasses I like to use. This little measuring glass makes things very easy. And, while we are shopping, this is the shaker set that I have. Margaritas are best shaken – everything gets nicely aerated and chilled quickly. You can use any amounts, depending on how many Margaritas you are making, or how large your glasses are, so long as you maintain the correct proportion.

Classic Margarita
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 1
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • lime wedges
  • coarse salt
  • ice
  • fresh limes
  • honey or agave nectar, to taste
For each Margarita
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • ½ ounce cointreau
First, squeeze the limes:
  1. Use a reamer, a citrus juicer, or a lemon or lime squeezer to juice about 1 lime per drink. This depends on how big your limes are, and how juicy - it can vary a lot. It is a good idea in life, generally to make sure you always have plenty of limes on hand.
  2. Taste the juice, which will be somewhat sour - if it is really sour, use a small whisk or a fork to blend in a small amount of honey or agave. Remember the cointreau is sweet too, so leave the juice on the tart side.
Second prepare your glasses:
  1. Place a small amount of coarse salt on a small plate - a couple teaspoons is more than enough for several drinks. Use a lime wedge to moisten the rim of the glass, then immediately up-end the glass into the salt and move it around to get a nice coating of salt on the rim.
  2. Place a couple of ice cubes in the glass. Set aside.
Make the drink
  1. In the metal side of the shaker, put in 2 or 3 ice cubes, the tequila, lime juice and cointreau. Fit the glass side on, give a it little tap on the counter to seal the shaker, and keeping the glass side at the top,shake vigorously, until the metal side of the shaker is covered with light condensation.
  2. Lightly tap the shaker on the edge of the counter, where the two sides meet, to free them from each other.
  3. Pour the drink into the prepared glass, and squeeze one of the lime wedges into the top, and then put the wedge in there too.
  4. Serve immediately

I’m not really sure who decided that National Margarita Day should be in February, rather than in a warmer month, when you imagine yourself sitting on a cool front porch of an evening, waiting for the grill to heat up, sipping a fresh, tart green drink while the last rays of sunlight slant sideways across the lawn.
classic margarita in a glassBut, upon reflection, I think they had right idea. Because February could use a few nice drinks to help remember that winter is starting to lose it’s grip on us.
Go ahead – this one is for you:
classic margarita in a glass


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18 thoughts on “Classic Margarita

  1. I love margaritas! And properly made, they’re such a terrific drink. Great instructions, and your recipe is a great one. I usually use a 2:1:1 ratio — I like just a bit more Cointreau in mine, and you’ll never have to use sugar no matter how sour your lime juice. Good stuff — thanks.

  2. Darn – didn’t know yesterday was Margarita Day or I would have had one or two or three. 🙂 Well, it’s never too late I guess. I actually have everything your recipe calls for so 2 days late want be a problem. Haven’t had a margarita in ages, so what fun! Thanks!

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  4. I just sent your recipe to my son, who is our chief margarita maker, and we’ve decided to have a Margarita Throwdown on our family vacay in July, using your recipe and his standard limeade, triple sec version. So it will be Classic vs Standard. 🙂 I’ll make myself a note to let you know the results.

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  7. Never ever ever knock the shaker/ glass unit on the counter, table, or bar top. Total rookie move. Glass end up, just give the SHAKER a good thump with the heel of your hand. YouTube it if you don’t get it. But for the love of goddess don’t knock it on the table!

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