Best Traditional Margarita
This is my all time favorite cocktail. I love good tequila and when paired with organic agave and a fresh lime, it’s absolutely heavenly. Perfect on a summer day, or really any day, for that matter.
Alright, I’m a fan of a restaurant margarita like anyone else. Sometimes the mix they use is pretty good, but then other times it tastes like floor cleaner. We all have our favorite place to get one. My favorite place happens to be my house!
Why? So many cocktails are made with mixes and artificial flavors that just ruin the experience. I love tequila. I love how fresh it is and it’s just ohhh so perfect when paired with the tartness of a fresh lime. My mouth is literally watering now.
A traditional margarita doesn’t use a mix. It’s a really simple and clean tasting cocktail. The tequila is the star of the show, as it should be. The best margarita isn’t complicated to make. You just need a few ingredients and a cocktail shaker to make the absolute best margarita. Make this and I promise, a restaurant margarita will never be the same again.
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The most important ingredient here is the tequila. You can’t make a good margarita without delicious, smooth tequila. There’s a couple of options for you here.
I have tried a handful of different kinds and my favorite is Lunazul. They make a few different types like blanco and reposado. I’ve used both and like them. I think I prefer the reposado just a bit more because it’s aged and a teeny bit smoother, but the blanco is cheaper and really doesn’t make a bad margarita at all. If you already have a preference, then just go with what you like.
Again, there’s a couple different options here.
Cointreau is what I use most of the time. It’s one of the more pricey orange liqueurs but it’s delicious in so many drinks and it certainly won’t go to waste.
This orange liqueur is a type of triple sec. It’s sweet, light and primarily orange flavored, as the name suggests. It tastes like real orange peel and you don’t have any doubts that there’s no artificial flavors in this.
Grand Marnier is worth mentioning because so many people love it. I don’t mind it, but it isn’t my top choice. It’s a blend of classic triple sec and cognac. The flavor is deeper and more complex and to me, it just weighs this drink down a bit too much.
Patron Citronge Orange
Patron Citronge triple sec is made in Mexico, so really, it makes the most sense to use this in a margarita. My husband and I are split here. He prefers this one and I prefer the Cointreau. If it’s in your budget to experiment and see what you like, get both and try them!
The Patron Citronge is 80 proof while Cointreau is only 40 proof. It definitely makes a difference in the flavor of the drink. The Cointreau makes for a mild and smooth flavor while the Patron hits a bit harder. It’s not bad in any way, so again it comes down to personal preference. Aside from the bite of the extra alcohol, the flavor is quite good.
The most traditional margarita recipes call for simple syrup. How do you make simple syrup? Well, you add equal parts of water and white sugar to a sauce pan and heat it until the sugar dissolves. Then you let it cool and store it in the fridge.
Why use agave syrup instead of the most traditional? Let me enlighten you! For one thing, home made simple syrup doesn’t keep that long. Because of its high sugar content, bacteria feed on the sugar and grow pretty rapidly. And because the only other ingredient is water, there’s nothing there to inhibit the growth of bacteria.
Agave syrup is shelf stable and there’s no need to simmer something on the stove and then wait for it to cool. Also, Costco sells it in large bottles so if you use it as often as I do, you can save a few bucks.
Most importantly, tequila is made from the agave plant. So doesn’t it make the most sense to pair it with a sweetener from the same plant? I think so.
Each and every time I mention lime juice in a recipe, I will always be referring to freshly squeezed. The stuff in a bottle is gross. Just don’t do it.
This part is totally optional. Just a teeny bit of water finishes this cocktail with a smoothness that it doesn’t have otherwise. Yes, I know you’re basically watering it down, but that’s okay. It’s appropriate here. Taste it before you add the water and then after and you’ll know for next time which way you prefer. And yeah, there will be a next time. I’m confident in that.
Since we’ve already talked about using the best ingredients for this traditional margarita recipe, we need to talk about salt for a second. There’s sea salt, which is totally fine to use. That’s what I use most of the time.
In the images in this post, you’ll notice the salt on the rims of the glasses looks a bit different. I used Redmond Real Salt because it has all the natural and healthy minerals in it. This is what I use to cook with and for almost anything that calls for added salt. If you want to learn why this is better than regular table salt, check out my post on basic spices here.
Best Traditional Margarita
- Cocktail shaker
- 1.5 ounces silver tequila
- 1 ounce Cointreau
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice - about 1 whole lime - doesn't have to be precise, just use the whole lime
- ½ ounce raw agave syrup
- 1 tbsp water
- cocktail salt or course sea salt
- Squeeze the lime and then take part of the cut lime and run it along the edge of your glass.
- Roll the outside edge of your glass in your preference of salt. Tap off the excess. Do not dip or press the glass into the salt. That gets salt on the inside of the rim, which falls into the drink and ruins the flavor.
- Fill your glass with ice.
- Cut lime wedges as a garnish, if you like.
- Fill cocktail shaker halfway with ice and add lime juice, tequila, Cointreau, agave and water.
- Shake well for a few seconds and then pour into cocktail glass. Garnish and serve.
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