Margarita Cocktail

Classic Margarita Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on June 3, 2022 
The Margarita is the perfect combination of Tequila, lime, Triple Sec, and Syrup. And not less important: the salt rim. Here's our favorite recipe for this classic.

The Margarita Cocktail is one of the most famous Mexican exports. It's in line with other treats like Tequila, Tacos, and Burritos. And it's one of the most popular cocktails in Northern America, too. -The most popular for two years in a row, to be precise, according to Nielsen CGA

And it is no wonder this cocktail is such a crowd-pleaser. The combination of the tanginess from fresh lime juice, citrus notes from orange, and a bold Tequila flavor combined with salt is simply delicious.

Origin of the Margarita

With a cocktail as popular and widespread as the classic Margarita, a lot of people would have loved to be somehow involved in its invention. 

It's certainly no surprise that there would be many stories and claims about who created the Tequila drink first. And it's impossible to tell which one is true.

Early stories

Historian David Wondrich makes a connection between the Margarita and Daisy Cocktails. He reasons it's a remake of the Daisy template - spirit, liqueur, citrus- with Tequila as a base. And it doesn't seem too farfetched when you consider that Margarita is the Spanish word for Daisy. 

One of the very early stories is from Baja California, Mexico. There, one Mr. Herrera supposedly created the cocktail in 1938. He prepared a Margarita for a customer allergic to many spirits but not Tequila.

Jose Cuervo, one of the most renowned Tequila producers, says the cocktail was made for a Mexican showgirl in 1938.

The Margarita became famous

I could go on forever, as there are endless similar accounts and claims. But what many stories have in common is the timeframe (sometime in the late 1930s or early 1940s) and the approximate location (somewhere in the vicinity of Acapulco).

Classic Margarita

The first known written documentation of a Margarita recipe was in the Esquire magazine. In their December 1953 issue, they printed a recipe asking for an ounce of Tequila, a dash of Triple Sec, and the juice of half a lime.

After that, it still took another 20 years until it finally took off and became a favorite to many. And today, there even is a National Margarita Day, held on February 22nd. 

Ingredients of the classic Margarita

Looking at the ingredients of a Margarita, there's no way to hide. Therefore, always go for fresh lime juice and choose your Tequila wisely. You don't need to spend a fortune to get a quality Tequila but do not use a Tequila "mixto".

This so-called "mixto" is a type of Tequila with up to 49 percent added sugars. And a Margarita can very well do without that. So stay away from this and opt for a Blanco made from 100% Blue Weber Agave instead. If you need some guidance, have a look at this article featuring the best Tequilas for making Margaritas.

Triple Sec

The same care is needed when choosing the Triple Sec. Some products are overly sweet and almost unenjoyable. So to keep it short and sweet, I recommend Cointreau

There definitely are other good options that are more affordable. But Cointreau is a safe bet and available in every halfway well-assorted supermarket around the globe. Plus, it's my absolute favorite when mixing Margaritas.

Some think Cointreau is another word for Triple Sec. However, Triple Sec is the term for the entire category of orange liqueurs. Cointreau is a single product within this category. 

It's comparable to the Tequila vs Mezcal situation. If you want to know more, here's everything you need to know about Triple Sec.

The sweetener

I like to use either simple syrup, agave syrup, or a combination of both. Agave syrup enhances the agave taste of the cocktail, which I like. But some think it becomes overpowering and prefer the simple syrup version. Still, both work and will make for an amazing Margarita.

The Margarita salt

The final touch for every Margarita is the salt rim. Don't use ordinary table salt as it will let down your whole drink. 

I recommend sea salt, and ideally fleur de sel. The flaky salt will not only look amazing on the glass, but it also tastes much better. 

Fleur de Sel

Fleur de Sel creates a subtle and delicate saltiness unlike any other type of salt I know. I would even go so far as to say that using fleur de sel will lift your Margarita onto another level.

Is Triple Sec necessary for Margaritas?

I got this question quite often in the past, so I wanted to address this separately. 

Yes, Triple Sec - or alternatively Curaçao- is an essential part of any Margarita recipe. 

As mentioned above, I would recommend Cointreau to mix your Margarita cocktails. But using any orange liqueur probably is better than using none. Because when leaving this orange-flavored element off, you can't ever get a decent Margarita.

Which Tequila should I use in a Margarita?

I already mentioned that it is best to go with a Tequila made of 100% Blue Weber Agave. But there is a large number of other options available. 

The most common choice is Tequila Blanco, though, a type of silver Tequila. It usually is the most affordable option and already makes some fantastic Margaritas.

Tequila Reposado is an aged version, offering more complex notes. Some of the flavors may get swallowed by the tangy, strong, and salty elements, but you can still taste the difference. The same goes for Anejo Tequilas, which are aged even longer.

If you don't know what to pick or look for recommendations, try making your Margarita with:

For more options and details, check out our list of the 12 best Tequilas for a Margarita

Mezcal instead of Tequila

If you end up in discussions with fellow cocktail-lovers about what Tequila to use in a Margarita, most certainly someone will say you should skip them all and use Mezcal. After all, their both agave spirits.

While they may have a point there, with Mezcal, it will be a different cocktail. Because most Mezcals are very much on the smoky side, they transport this strong flavor directly into your Margarita.

Yet, if you want to give it a try and look for recommendations, here's a list of 12 Mezcals you should try in 2021.

And if you look for more Margarita variations, how about a Spicy Grapefruit Margarita or a Tommy's Margarita

Spicy Grapefruit Margarita

And for the festive season, there's something exceptionally pretty: the White Christmas Margarita Punch

Margarita Recipe

Margarita Cocktail


Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Cointreau, Tequila
Servings: 1
Calories: 222kcal
Cost: $3.10


  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 1 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau
  • 0.25 oz Agave syrup
  • 0.25 cup Sea salt / Fleur de Sel


  • Use a wedge of lime and rub around the rim of a glass.
  • Dip the glass rim in sea salt and add some ice cubes to chill it.
  • Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it and strain it in the prepared glass.
  • If you want, you can garnish it with a lime wedge.


Serving: 4oz | Calories: 222kcal | Carbohydrates: 39.1g | Protein: 0.43g | Fat: 0.225g | Sodium: 2.03mg | Potassium: 118mg | Sugar: 30.7g | Vitamin C: 34.25mg | Calcium: 14.25mg | Iron: 0.28mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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One comment on “Classic Margarita Recipe”

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