How to Make a Homemade Margarita Like a Total Pro
So, you didn’t get to kick back on a Mexican beach this summer, huh? Same. Thankfully, we’ve found the next best thing to a beach getaway. And you won’t even have to leave the house to get it. Here’s how to make a homemade margarita all by yourself, plus a few ideas for mixing them up once you’ve gotten the hang of it.
How to Make a Homemade Margarita
The basic formula for a margarita is two parts tequila + one part triple sec + one to two parts acid (depending on how strong you like your margarita). As long as you stick to those ratios, you really can’t go wrong. Silver tequila, the clear kind that’s bottled immediately after distillation, is typically what’s used. But gold tequila, which is oftentimes barrel-aged, will work in a pinch. For triple sec, we’re partial to the orange liqueur Cointreau; but if you have the bargain brand in your bar cart, it’ll work just fine. If you want to be fancy, Grand Marnier, a blend of cognac and orange liqueur, is another solid option.
As for the acid, nothing beats fresh-squeezed lime juice if you like margs on the tart side. Homemade sour mix (which is basically lemon-lime simple syrup) made from lemon juice, lime juice, water and sugar, also works well. If you really want to cut as many corners as possible, bottled sour mix or margarita mix will get the job done, but it doesn’t have the complexity of real citrus juice, nor is it as refreshing. Plus, they’re also typically loaded with sugar, so going with fresh lime juice today can save you a hangover headache tomorrow. Here’s how we make a traditional margarita on the rocks:
- 2 ounces blanco tequila
- 1 ounce Cointreau
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- Salt and lime wheel (for garnish)
Step 1: Fill a shaker with ice. Combine all ingredients in the shaker and shake.
Step 2: Rub the inside of a lime wheel or wedge around the rim of a margarita glass. Pour some salt (or sugar) onto a small plate and spin the glass’s rim in the salt until it’s evenly coated.
Step 3: Shake and strain the shaker contents into the margarita glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
If you prefer margaritas blended, the recipe is a breeze to adjust. Just start with a cup of ice per cocktail in the blender, add all the ingredients as you normally would (just multiplied by the number of servings you want to make) and give it a whirl. Since the ice will melt, the drink may be a little diluted. Be sure to adjust the tequila and mixers to your taste and desired strength between pulses.
Easy Ways to Mix Up a Homemade Margarita
If classic margaritas have lost their appeal (is that even possible?), there are countless ways to spruce up the OG. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
- Make it fruity: Whether you’re adding frozen fruit to the blender or fruit purée to the shaker, this step creates a new drink entirely. A cup of fruit or a couple ounces of purée are about all you need. Mango and strawberry are popular flavors—they provide a thick, sweet element that cuts through the drink’s acidity. But pineapple, guava, passionfruit, raspberry, blackberry and pretty much any other fruit you love will work. If you add an acidic fruit, like pineapple, a little squirt of simple syrup will round it out if it’s too sour. And pro-tip: If you’re blending a fruity marg with frozen fruit, skip the ice altogether and only add some in later if you want a slushier consistency.
- Use infused or flavored tequila: It’s 2020, so it’s not too hard to get fancy tequila that doesn’t just taste like…well, tequila. Easy-to-find flavors include coconut, jalapeño, grapefruit, mango and pineapple. Patrón XO Café is a surprisingly popular coffee-flavored tequila (try it straight or on the rocks before mixing it into a cocktail). But it’s also ridiculously easy—and potentially cheaper—to infuse your own tequila. All you have to do is drop the flavor components in the bottom of a mason jar, fill the jar with silver tequila, give the jar a good shake and let it soak for about three days. Once it’s strained, it’s ready to enjoy.
- Try different mixers: Limeade (might we suggest the jalapeño-spiked sipper from Trader Joe’s?), pink lemonade and orange juice make our top three. Any citrusy bev will complement the original recipe, so feel free to get creative with whatever’s in your fridge. Club soda, tonic, flavored seltzer or even lemon-lime soda are solid options for those of you who are suckers for bubbles.
- Experiment with the salt or sugar rim: Sugar and salt never get old. But add pink peppercorns, chili powder, smoked salt, cocoa powder or cinnamon to the mix and you’ve got a whole different experience, both in taste and visuals. Our go-to? Tajín, a Mexican seasoning made from chiles, salt and dehydrated lime. It’ll give every sip just the right amount of spicy oomph.
Thirsty? Here are 8 creative margarita recipes to tackle at home.
1. Mint Julep MargaritasMeet the ultimate libation to whip up for the Kentucky Derby. All it’s missing is an organza hat.
Never choose between your two favorite cocktails again.
3. Cranberry Margarita
Prime for sipping by the pool *and* at your next holiday party, this tart, ten-minute recipe does it all.
4. Jalapeño Watermelon Margaritas
Pre-bottled simple syrups need not apply. Agave nectar and fresh watermelon sweeten these spicy sippers just fine.
5. Avocado Margaritas
It turns out blended avocado makes for the creamiest, most luxurious drink of all time. The more you know.
6. Rhubarb Mint Margarita with Jalapeño Tequila
Ready to play mixologist? This recipe will teach you to infuse tequila and make flavored simple syrup from scratch.
7. Papaya Mango Frozen Margarita
Here’s that tropical getaway you’ve been craving.
8. Frozen Margarita Ice Pops
Because literally no one wants to get out of the pool to make another round.