A Real Margarita


Rarely do I order a margarita at a restaurant. Unless it’s a Mexican restaurant with top-shelf margaritas shaken to order by a bartender, they tend to be heavy on the sweet-and-sour-mix.

What that means is the following:
1. You don’t taste the tequila.
2. Your mouth puckers from the sweet-sour.
3. You invariably get a headache.

So typically I make margaritas at home, although I limit myself to two drinks. I don’t have any bad college memories of tequila overindulgence, because I didn’t drink back then. But I’ve probably heard too many scary stories from other folks, that help me maintain a healthy respect for tequila’s powers.

Although I don’t really enjoy the taste of booze, even vodka, I do like tequila. I’d never drink it straight, but I also don’t want to ruin it with disgusting margarita mix. I’ve searched long and hard for a good, reliable margarita recipe.

Lo and behold, enter my friends, man and wife, both great bartenders and hosts.

This post is thanks to them, and their margarita recipe that they’re allowing me to share with the world!!! I have no idea if it’s a common recipe or not, but most all margarita recipes include sweet and sour mix, simple syrup, or sugar. So trust me, if you like a good, strong, but also refreshing margarita, this recipe is perfect!

Just remember: tequila can creep up on you!

The recipe is this simple. Equal parts tequila, orange liqueur, and fresh lime juice. That’s it. The lime juice provides the tartness and freshness, the liqueur adds just enough sweetness, and the tequila, well that’s the booze.

Of course, a margarita isn’t a margarita without the lime and salt rim.

Start by squeezing limes. You may think you have a lot, but you may barely have enough. Trust me on this. (My husband squeezed 32 limes on Cinco de Mayo for our pitcher of margaritas for four people!)

I ended up with 4 ounces of lime juice, so to it I added 4 ounces each of tequila and orange liqueur. I recommend either Cointreau or Grand Marnier. For tequila I stick with Patron.

Have your glasses ready with salted rims, then fill with ice cubes.

Pour in the margarita.


Of course these margaritas could also be blended with ice, but I prefer mine on the rocks.

On a hot day, there’s no better drink than a margarita, but not if they’re cloyingly sweet.

If you want a special treat, top the margarita off with a Chambord floater! And thank my same friends for this unique twist on a margarita.

53 thoughts on “A Real Margarita

  1. I am with you, Mimi – even most Mexican restaurants here are now using a sour mix. Awful! Margaritas (I will have to try your version) are to be made at home or ordered in only a handful of restaurants!

  2. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who can’t find a decent Margarita in most bars. The majority uses cheap Tequila and that awful sour mix. Yuck!
    Love yours – and the Chambord addition is something I will definitely try soon. :)

  3. I LOVE a good margarita. I am also very picky on where I order mine from. Those ice cubes are so cute and small! Did you use an ice tray to make them or is that processed in the freezer?

  4. Over here, luckily, we don’t have margarita mixes. It’s all the real thing. I only like strawberry margaritas, and you are right – tequila can creep up on you :-D

  5. After living in Texas for 30 years, I too appreciate a perfect margarita. My favorite is fresh lime juice, Cointreau, tequila, fresh basil simple syrup and a tiny bit of minced jalapeño pepper. 😎

    Elena Bourke

    • Hi Elena – I guess I’m a traditionalist. I don’t go for the “mixology” drinks with basil and lavender and so forth. I’m sure it’s good, tho!

      • It IS good. An adventurous palate like yours may find treasures there! I’m actually a purist about many things and still enjoy a fresh and traditional margarita. Elena

  6. Living in Italy, I don’t think we can even get these mixes you speak of. So in a way, that’s a good thing, huh? I drank my first Margarita in my early thirties, would you believe. An English friend of mine who had enjoyed copious amounts of Margaritas in Mexico gave us her recipe, and that’s the one we use. Three parts Tequila to two parts equally of Triple Sec and Lime Juice. And then of course the salt around the rim and plenty of ice, etc. It’s become our ‘standard’ so of course it’s what we think is ‘good’. Over the years, every now and then I shall suddenly ‘crave’ a M. for no apparent reason. Until once I realised I was feeling a bit ‘down’, coming down with a cold. “So that explains it, I said out aloud to my husband and chidlren, it’s my body’s way of asking for vitamina C. There is so much vitamin C and fibre in the lime juice!” My family think I’m crazy anyway so I didn’t think anyone had taken any notice, not really. And then a few months ago, our son calls us and casually tells us that he just gone out to have a Margarita. ??? Our son is not a boozy kind of guy so I was curious. “Why darling?”. “Oh … cos I think I’m coming down with the flu or something” ….:)

  7. I love a good Margarita! And agree with you on too many restaurant ones — that sweet and sour mix is vile. I have a slightly different ratio of ingredients — I use 2 ounces tequila, then an ounce each of Cointreau and fresh lime juice. Worth a try sometime. :-)

  8. I loooove margaritas but never made with a mix. Gross! Your recipe sounds delicious!

  9. Dear Chef Mimi, I came for your Crostini al Tonno and got sidetracked by your Real Margarita recipe. (I brake for previous posts!) Please thank your friends for letting you share their concoction. This is indeed a REAL cocktail. Your photos are mighty convincing, too. :)

      • Mimi, pre-made mixes and I don’t mix. In my past life I was a bartender… yay for “homemade” cocktails! My hubby & I also detest Margaritas that are “too sweet”. This concoction is absolutely perfect! (But, SNEAKY, as you warned… all things in moderation.) Bonus points for finding “hand-made in Mexico” Margarita glasses and a pitcher to match during my volunteer stint at the church store today — for less than a dollar! I grabbed some limes, Patron Reposado and Cointreau on the way home… it was meant to be! Just wondering… did you use Cointreau or Gran Marnier? (I chose the former… very tasty in equal proportions… just curious about your preference.)

      • Glad you appreciate this drink and this post! I bet I can’t tell the difference between G.M. And Cointreau. You might. But no, I don’t have a preference. And definitely sneaky. I didn’t tell the whole story about my husband and these margaritas on cinco de mayo! (Nothing bad, but really funny!)

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