How to make a classic margarita! You ready?!
Nothing screams summer quite as loudly as a classic margarita. Think about it — you’re hosting a cookout with friends and family, passing beer and wine like it’s water, but something is missing. That something is unquestionably a good cocktail. But the ultimate cocktail? Simple: the perfect margarita. And I’m going to help you master it.
What type of tequila should I use in a classic margarita recipe?
Knowing the basics will help you crank out stellar margs every single time. This may be a matter of personal preference, but I always use tequila blanco. It’s regarded as the lesser of the tequilas (more on reposado below), but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on quality.
What’s the difference between tequila blanco and reposado?
In short, it’s the amount of time the tequila has been aged. The clearer the liquid, the less time it’s been sitting in either stainless steel or oak barrels. Thus, sometimes tequila blanco is referred to as silver tequila. It’s clear! Tequila reposado, by contrast, sits for a longer period of time, and almost always in oak barrels. The lengthier holding stage, as well as the oak, helps to give it that brown hue and a more distinguishable taste. They’re usually higher end, which is why they can often be referred to as sipping tequilas. They’re good enough to drink on their own.
Personally, I don’t need fancy tequila for a margarita. Do I want cheap tequila that will leave me hungover and hating life? Absolutely not. But I have found (with copious research under my belt) that a moderately priced tequila blanco is more than fine at making a really freakin’ delicious drink.
Best tequila blanco for your classic margarita recipe:
- Casamigos (750ml at $35.99) – hands down, this is the only tequila I use on a regular basis. It’s smooth, herbaceous, and made with 100% agave. Highly, highly recommend.
- Casa Noble Crystal (750ml at $34.99) – this tequila packs a little more punch than the Casamigos. If you’re looking for a bit more character (think slightly smoky or peppery tones), this may be the one for you.
- Herradura Blanco Tequila (750ml at $38.49) – this well known tequila is often the liquid of choice for classic margs, and for good reason — it’s not Patron (overhyped), but similarly will not overwhelm the other flavors of your cocktail.
Can I use a cheaper tequila?
You certainly can, but it depends on how well you want to be able to walk the next morning…
How to scale up your recipe to feed a crowd (AKA pitcher of margaritas!)
This is my favorite. I want to serve margaritas at every summer cookout from here until the end of time, and it’s way easier than you think. Take the ingredients below (measured in ounces) and convert ’em straight into cups.
- 3 cups tequila blanco
- 3 cups fresh squeezed lime juice
- 2 cups Cointreau (or other triple sec)
- ½ cup agave nectar
Place all ingredients in a pitcher, stir to combine, then refrigerate until very cold. Get all your glasses assembled and ready to go (you know the drill, salt on the rim, filled with ice, lime wedges on standby), then pour. You should get about 6-8 servings from one pitcher, depending how generously you pour for your guests!
Classic margaritas vs. frozen margaritas
My husband and I have a friend who swears by frozen margaritas. They’re his jam, and ain’t nobody gonna shame him into ordering a classic margarita on the rocks.
And then there’s everyone else. (Ba dum tcha!)
Perhaps that’s a bit harsh, but my number one complaint with frozen margaritas? They melt too damn fast! And if I’m going through the trouble of making a classic margarita recipe (really, it’s no trouble at all), I kind of don’t want it to be watered down, you know?
A really good margarita should be ice cold. It helps if you start with cold ingredients and even a cold glass. Feel free to serve yours straight up (no ice), but… if not, just stick a very large ice cube in the glass (see below) versus lots of little tiny ice cubes that will melt faster over a shorter period of time.
Bringing it all together.
You’ve got the right tequila, you’ve juiced a shitload of limes (fresh is best, guys), and you’re using a high quality triple sec (Cointreau or bust!). How do you bring it all together? A healthy squeeze of agave nectar, salt on the rim, and a few slices or wedges of fresh lime and you are well on your way to making margarita history.
I’m telling you, a classic marg is always trendy, always in fashion, and always a good choice. Who’s drinking with me?!
More Margarita Recipes To Try!
If you make our Classic Margarita recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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For additional recipes that would be delish with classic margs, check out the following:
- Ultimate black bean burgers
- Cilantro Lime Shrimp
- Blackened salmon with grilled pineapple-avocado salsa
- Black Bean Quesadillas
- Green Chicken Chili Soup
Classic Margarita Recipe
- 3 oz tequila blanco such as Casamigos
- 3 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- 2 oz triple sec recommended Cointreau
- ½ oz agave nectar
- kosher salt for serving
- lime wedges or circles for serving
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add 3 oz tequila, 3 oz lime juice, 2 oz cointreau, and ½ oz agave. Secure lid, then shake for 10-12 seconds to aerate the drink.
- Run a lime wedge along the rim of a glass, then dip upside down into a shallow bowl of kosher salt. Place ice in glass (optional).
- Strain drink into glass and serve.
Sue Green says
I love the detail in this post, especially the tequila recommendations as I have never bought a bottle. That changes this weekend!
ari | well seasoned says
Yesssss, highly recommend Casamigos Tequila Blanco! It’s perfect in general, but especially in margaritas! Enjoy! xo, Ari
Easy, delicious, and refreshing. I made this drink at the end of a VERY long day in the middle of an intense work week in quarantine. One sip, and I immediately wished I’d bought more limes. It’s perfect. It’s better than all the margaritas I’ve ever paid $15 for at a bar.
ari | well seasoned says
I am SO happy to hear this!! I have no clue why a good margarita at a restaurant is so hard to make, but WHO CARES ’cause we’re making them all the time at home now! Cheers! xo, Ari