It’s a mainstay of every Mexican restaurant that has spread to be among the most popular drinks you can order at just about any bar. Cinco de Mayo celebrations are awash in the tasty stuff. The tequila-based margarita is one of the most popular cocktails in the world.
Despite being a deceivingly simple mixed drink to prepare, it’s got a complex flavor, is unbearably delicious, and comes in more varieties than you can shake a swizzle stick at. What’s the secret to unlocking the perfect margarita? The answer to that comes with some basic understanding, from the history to the primary recipes. If you’re ready to learn everything you need to know about this incredible adult beverage — including how to make one yourself — get your lips ready for some sublime drinking and read on!
When it comes to the origin story of the margarita, the truth may never be properly known. There are a few things that we do know for sure. For one thing, there was another drink that existed for decades before anyone heard of it called the Daisy (“Daisy” also happens to be the English version of the name “Margarita”). Enjoyed way back in the 1800s, this brandy-based drink was almost identical in preparation — save for the use of tequila.
Then, at some point in the 1930s or 1940s — depending on which story you want to believe — it was either a bartender in Baja Mexico, a fancy socialite in Acapulco, or yet another bartender in Galveston, Texas. What is known for sure is that by 1945, legendary tequila purveyor Jose Cuervo was already advertising the strength of the margarita. Ever since imbibers the world over know this very name to be synonymous with flavor and fun!
The Basic Margarita Recipe
Regardless of exactly where and when the first margarita was mixed, the tradition of making the terrific tequila tonic has been set in stone for several decades. This is the recipe to make the classic cocktail, from which every other twist on the elixir has poured forth:
- Prep Time 1 Minutes
- Cook Time 1 Minutes
- Total Time 2-3 Minutes
- Serves 1 People
- Calories 200 kcal
- 2 ounces tequila
- Juice of 1 whole lime
- ½ ounce triple sec or orange liqueur
- Coarse salt for the rim
- Lime wedge garnish
- Use a slit in the lime wedge to moisten a highball glass.
- Roll the rim of the glass in a dish filled with coarse salt.
- Fill cocktail shaker with ice.
- Add tequila, triple sec, and lime juice to the shaker.
- Shake the shaker vigorously for 20 seconds.
- Pour cocktail into the glass, straining ice and carefully avoiding salt.
- Attach lime wedge for garnish.
- Orale! Enjoy!
A well-made margarita will be sweet up front, then ending with a sour finish as the lime juice gets a chance to cut through the sugars. The tequila adds a smoky element that creates the complexity of the flavor. Taking all of these factors into account, there are quite a few dishes that pair very nicely with the tangy favorite. Many Mexican delicacies, of course, go perfectly with the basic margarita.
If you’re drinking it on the rocks, it’s a natural accompaniment for the opening salvo of tortillas and salsa. The citrusy goodness goes great with chicken tacos or a nice ceviche. Fruity versions are fantastic with banana pancakes for brunch or over a tasty dessert after dinner. If you get a frozen margarita, it will go a long way to tamping down the heat of spicier bites like jalapeño poppers or when you dare to add some ghost pepper sauce to your burrito!
Take Your Margarita Recipe to the Next Level
As we’ve already alluded to, there are a whole lot of variants to the basic margarita recipe. If you want to enjoy it as a blended frozen drink the way you would a Piña Colada, start with the very same recipe above, multiplied by four. Add those ingredients to a blender half-filled with ice. Then drop in two tablespoons of simple syrup or agave. Set the blender on “annihilate” and watch the action as you come up with a pitcher full of cool cocktails.
Another twist on the fundamental concoction is to add muddled fruit to the shaker, like raspberries or mango. You won’t want to serve this on the rocks, and you may want to squeeze the extra pulp out of the cocktail shaker’s strainer to add flavor and texture. And again, sweetening with just a splash of simple syrup will go a long way to bringing the flavor of the fruit out. Swapping muddled fruit for some coco loco to the mix will end up in a fun coconut margarita, and you can even substitute the salt on the rim with sugared shredded coconut to really make it awesome!
This incredibly simple drink has become so famous, you can’t help but hear about it just about everywhere. It’s so popular, there’s even a National Margarita Day every February 22! And surely you have heard and seen references to the concoction throughout pop culture. Jimmy Buffet made the drink a musical standard with his huge 1974 hit “Margaritaville” in which he laments a lost love over a glass of the tequila tonic.
The cartoon show South Park used a margarita slushie machine in one episode for comedic effect, making it as valuable an asset as a home. And a slew of films have used the drink in its title, including Margarita, Margarita Man, Margarita with a Straw — you get the idea! Super-famous scenes revolved around the Mexican favorite in movies like Kill Bill and Practical Magic. Maybe it is magic that makes everybody love the margarita so much. Whatever it is, let’s be sure to keep ’em coming!