The margarita is the most common
tequila-based cocktail in
the United States, made with tequila mixed with triple sec
(an orange-flavored liqueur made from the dried peel of oranges from the
Caribbean) and lime or lemon
juice, often served with salt on the glass rim.
Left: A Margarita.
Common ratios for a margarita are:
2:1:1 = (50% tequila, 25% Triple
Sec, 25% fresh lime or lemon juice)
3:2:1 = (50% tequila, 33% Triple
Sec, 17% fresh lime or lemon juice)
3:1:1 = (60% tequila, 20% Triple
Sec, 20% fresh lime or lemon juice)
6:3:1 = (60% tequila, 30% Triple
Sec, 10% fresh lime or lemon juice)
1:1:1 = (33% tequila, 33% Triple
Sec, 33% fresh lime or lemon juice)
The drink is usually served shaken with ice, on the rocks,
blended with ice (frozen margarita) or without ice (straight up). All three
methods are frequently served with salt or sugar on the rim of the glass which
is optional. Margaritas often contain an additional sweetener, such as simple
syrup or plain sugar, alternatively the Margarita can be made with bottled lime
juice, with frozen limeade, or sour mix (each of which contains sugar).
Margaritas can also be made with muddled or blended fruits like lime, lemon,
cherries, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, orange, mango or blueberries.
Other than triple sec, other types of orange-flavored liqueur
are sometimes used, such as Patrón Citrónge (produced in Mexico), Cointreau
(produced in France), blue curaçao yielding the blue margarita. The "grand",
"royal", or "Cadillac" margarita often contains Grand Marnier or Gran Gala and
Jose Cuervo 1800. Such higher quality or "top shelf" margaritas will usually
use a better grade of tequila as well.
Often, when sweeter fruit juices or
freshly puréed fruits are added to the margarita, the amount of orange-flavored
liqueur is often reduced or it is eliminated entirely. In addition to
orange-flavored liqueurs, secondary liqueurs may occasionally be added to the
cocktail, including black raspberry-flavored Chambord.
Fresh squeezed lime juice is the key ingredient. The most
common lime in the U.S. is the thick skinned Persian lime. However, margaritas
in Mexico are generally made with Mexican limes (Key limes). These are small,
thin skinned limes and have a more tart and an often bitter flavor compared to
Margaritas made with lemon have a softer taste, especially
when Meyer lemons are used. Alternate fruits and juice
mixtures can also be used in a margarita.
Left: Margaritas come in a variety of
flavors and colors.
Margaritas may be served in a variety of glasses, most
notably the stereotypical margarita glass; this is particularly associated with blended fruit margaritas, and the
glass is also used for dishes such as
guacamole or shrimp cocktails. In formal
settings margaritas are often served in a standard cocktail glass, while in
informal settings, particularly with ice, margaritas may be served in an
The margarita cocktail was the "Drink of the Month" in
Esquire magazine, December 1953, pg. 76:
1 ounce tequila
Dash of Triple Sec
Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
Pour over crushed ice, stir. Rub the rim of a stem glass with rind of lemon or
lime, spin in salt—pour, and sip.