A Virgin Margarita is a beautiful composition of lime, agave syrup, tonic, and pickle juice.
It is a great drink to serve guests who don't drink alcohol. It tastes deliciously tangy, looks like a classic Margarita, and makes everyone feel part of the party. And that definitely is what you want from a Mocktail.
Still, it's hard to compete with a drink as sensational as a standard Margarita. So, to make sure you offer something that actually passes for an adult drink and not just like a juice with a fancy name, you need to follow a few directions.
Ingredients of a Non-Alcoholic Margarita
You really only need three ingredients for a standard Margarita: Tequila, Triple Sec, and lime juice. Of course, there's also the salt, and a splash of syrup also adds some extra depth. But you can make some delicious Margaritas with only the three basic ingredients.
So how to best replace those and make the perfect non.alcoholic version of a Margarita? By using lime juice, syrup, and salt from the original and replacing the boozy parts with tonic water and pickle juice.
Keep as many ingredients from the original as possible
The obvious first: lime juice, syrup, and salt are alcohol-free. So, of course, they will be part of the Virgin Margarita, too.
Regarding the citrus part of the alcohol-free Margarita, you can stick to lime juice only, as we recommend for the classic Margarita. But you also can consider using half lime, half lemon juice. Either way, make sure it's freshly squeezed.
If it's not too much trouble to get it, use agave syrup for the sweet part of your mocktail. With agave being the plant Tequila is made from, this brings in some Mexican vibes.
In a classic Margarita, you can also go with simple syrup instead. However, for this non-alcoholic Margarita, using agave syrup is something I do highly recommend.
For the salt rim of your Margarita, you can never go wrong with Fleur the Sel. That's as valid for the Virgin as it is for the alcoholic version.
Tonic water to substitute the bitterness from Triple Sec
Triple Sec is an orange-flavored liqueur with French roots. It usually contains between 20 and 40% vol. My go-to choice for a classic Margarita is Cointreau.
For a non-alcoholic drink, you best stick to Indian tonic water. It has some bitterness from the quinine, which works well to replace the bitter notes from Triple Sec.
The intense citric flavor that's characteristic of Triple Sec can be achieved by adding a splash of lemon juice in addition to the lime we have from the base recipe.
Pickle Juice instead of Tequila
And ultimately, you need something to mimic the bite of the alcohol. And that's where the pickle juice comes in. It sounds bizarre, but the vinegary, salty taste of the unusual ingredient brings the edge we need.
Of course, you will never achieve the typical bite you know from alcohol with a non-alcoholic ingredient. But the pickle juice really does some magic here.
If the idea of pickle juice freaks you out, a Virgin Margarita can also do without. But it will be better and taste closer to the original with the savory, spicy liquid.
Also, if drinking pickle juice doesn't appear to be such an odd thing to you, how about a Dill Pickle Martini next time you want a drink with alcohol?
How to mix the perfect Virgin Margarita
To create the perfect alcohol-free Margarita, you need a Margarita glass, a shaker, a jigger, a strainer, and a citrus juicer. If you don't have these essential bar tools yet, consider buying a cocktail shaker set - it's the best value for money.
Before you start mixing, take a lime wedge and run it along the rim of your glass. Then immediately dip it in the Fleur de Sel and set it aside for a minute.
Now put plenty of ice, the pickle juice, and the syrup into your cocktail shaker. You then squeeze your lemon and lime and add the fresh juice to your shaker, as well.
If you want to make more than one Virgin Margarita or other cocktails that include lemon or lime, you can squeeze a larger amount prior to prepping the cocktails. The juices will stay fresh for quite a while. And did you know that you even can age lime juice?
But back to the Margarita. Close your shaker, and shake well until it feels cold. Now, strain the drink over ice into your prepared glass and top it up with tonic water.
Other alcohol-free drinks
If you look for more non-alcoholic drinks for yourself or to serve to your guests, you can check out this list of low calory mocktails. It also includes a healthier version of the mother of all mocktails - the Shirley Temple.
The spirit substitutes attempt to bring the character of their alcoholic counterparts into mocktails.
- 3 oz Indian tonic
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
- 0.25 oz agave syrup
- ½ tsp pickle juice
- Sea salt / Fleur de Sel
- Moisten the rim of your glass with a lime wedge and dip it in fleur de sel
- Add lime juice, lemon juice, agave syrup, and pickle juice into your shaker along with plenty of ice.
- Shake until well chilled and strain over ice into your prepared glass
- Top up with tonic water