The Cantarito is Jalisco's number-one cocktail. It combines tequila with fresh citrus juices from oranges, limes, and grapefruits, and spices things up with a pinch of salt.
Quick Facts Cantarito
- Method: shaken
- Flavor profile: sour
- How to serve it: over ice
- Glassware: Clay Cup - Cántaro
- Alcohol content: ~ 10% ABV, 19 grams of alcohol per serving
If you like tequila cocktails, give the Cantarito a try, and let us show you how to make it.
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Cocktail Shaker
- 1 Hawthorne Strainer
- 2 oz Silver Tequila
- 1 oz Fresh orange juice
- 0.75 oz Fresh grapefruit juice
- 0.5 oz Fresh lime juice
- 2.5 oz Grapefruit soda
- 2 pinches Salt
- Add Tequila, lime juice, grapefruit juice, orange juice, and salt into your cocktail shaker filled with ice.2 oz Silver Tequila, 1 oz Fresh orange juice, 0.75 oz Fresh grapefruit juice, 0.5 oz Fresh lime juice, 2 pinches Salt
- Shake until your drink is well-chilled.
- Strain into a watered Cántaro or Collins glass filled with ice and top with grapefruit soda.2.5 oz Grapefruit soda
- Garnish with slices or wedges of grapefruit and/or lime.
Ingredients of a Cantarito
Every ingredient in the recipe for making a Cantarito is vital to get that refreshing cocktail right. So let's have a look at what goes into the cocktail:
- Tequila: The traditional recipes ask for tequila blanco. We found that you also often get your Cantarito with a reposado - a shortly barrel-aged type. Yet, we prefer the traditional recipe. You can find our favorites below.
- Orange juice: it's best to use fresh juices squeezed from ripe fruits. Especially for citrus fruit, you should avoid bottled juices as they don't have that tangy zing.
- Grapefruit juice: the same applies here, use freshly squeezed juice.
- Lime juice: once more, use only fresh lime juice in your cocktails.
- Salt: The street stalls in Jalisco use plenty of it, and a single pinch won't do the trick. Make it at least two.
- Grapefruit soda: The classic Mexican version would be Squirt grapefruit soda. A product from Mexico that is pretty hard to get in most parts of the world. If you are lucky, you can order it online. Otherwise, opt for an alternative like the Fever Tree Pink Grapefruit soda or Q sparkling grapefruit.
Best Tequila for the Cantarito
Blanco tequila is the best choice for the Cantarito Cocktail. With the salt and the various citrus flavors from the juices and the soda, you need that clean and crisp body and the bite of an unaged tequila.
Our current top choices are Espolòn Blanco and Patrón Silver, both are great value for money. Silver and blanco refer to the same type of tequila and can be used interchangeably.
A Reposado works fine, too, because it only matures for a maximum of twelve months, thus, maintains most of the herbaceous freshness. Don't opt for aged tequila. It's too mellow and does not work well with the salty & acidic recipe - it is also a waste of money with the Cantarito.
Cántaro - The Clay Cup
The cantarito cup is a small, round, unglazed clay vessel and the traditional way to serve this Mexican cocktail. It adds a very distinct earthy flavor to the drink.
We were allowed to keep ours after a visit to one of the distilleries in Tequila, but they are harder to get outside of Mexico. You can check online or use a rocks glass instead.
If you do use the clay cup, though, don't forget that you should cure them every time you intend to use them. -Simply follow the steps below.
Tips for the Perfect Cantarito - Cure the Cup
Besides the tips mentioned above, like using fresh juices, opting for a quality silver tequila, and going with at least two pinches of salt, there's one main thing that makes your Cantarito perfect - at least when you use Cántaros: Cure the clay cup before using it!
The round Cantarito cups are unglazed and can soak up water. That's why you need to follow these steps before filling them with your delicious cocktail:
- Step 1: Hold the cup under running water. Don't use soap or dishwashing liquid.
- Step 2: Place the cup in a container filled with water - the container should be large enough to cover the cup to the top with water.
- Step 3: Let the clay pot soak up the water for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Step 4: Rinse the cup once more, and it's good to go.
This procedure saturates the clay with water, so it won't absorb your cocktail later. Plus, the water slowly evaporates on the outside, which helps to keep your drink cool. - The Cuban Canchánchara makes use of that too.
Batching for multiple portions
A Cantarito is a great drink for larger batches - in massive clay pots. Perhaps you already came across one or two of the many videos on youtube or social media that show a street stall producing an enormous amount of drinks at once. - El Güero is the absolute number one here with stalls in and around the City of Tequila.
If you want to make your own batch at home, you may have to scale down a bit compared to what we see in these videos.
You can easily calculate the amounts used for a single Cantarito. So let's assume you're a group of four. Then you need:
- 8 oz tequila
- 4 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- 2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
- Generous amount of salt (preferably sea salt; 2 pinches per person)
- 10 oz grapefruit soda
Add tequila, juices, and salt into a large pitcher and stir well. Put the pitcher into your fridge until you need it.
When it's time to serve, pour the mix into four Cántaros filled with ice and top with grapefruit soda.
The Cantarito cocktail - forerunner of the Paloma?
The roots of the Cantarito lie in the Mexican state of Jalisco. And even though the Cantarito is famous across Mexico, it's nowhere as popular as there. However, it's impossible to find out who invented this recipe and when.
Some claim that not the Margarita but the Cantarito is the forerunner of the internationally-famed Paloma cocktail. And indeed, the Paloma looks like the trimmed-back version of this traditional cocktail.
Either way, the Cantarito deserves more recognition than it currently receives. It somehow flies under the radar and is too often overlooked when talking about Mexican cocktails.