This recipe delivers everything you expect from a classic margarita and more. It's so good, there's no syrup, and it's simple and so good!
Salt or no salt, that's up to you. All you have to do is make it and sip, sip, sip!
I made this margarita twice. Once with syrup and once without. Its so good it doesn’t even need it! Will be our new go to! - Jack
What is a Classic Margarita
Few things are better than a good classic margarita on the rocks. Ok, maybe a margarita + a great fish taco... but I digress.
A classic margarita is made with your favorite tequila, lime juice, and triple sec or Cointreau. Shaken. Always shaken, never mixed by stirring in a glass.
The key to a great tequila without syrup or added sweeteners is the ratio of the ingredients, which is exactly what you'll find with this recipe: greatness.
This recipe tastes nearly identical to the margarita I had many years ago in Cantina Tío Pepe in Mexico City, which is world-famous, a local favorite, and has been open since 1807! Also one of the top tequila bars in Mexico City by Conde Nast. It helps to speak the language fluently!
Classic Margarita on the Rocks
A good classic margarita is always served on the rocks, meaning over ice. It's shaken in a cocktail shaker with ice to chill it and mix the ingredients well.
You can pour a fresh batch of ice into your class or directly pour the ice from the shaker into the glass. Salt, of course, is optional and a personal preference.
Ingredients for the Best Margarita Recipe
Few ingredients are needed to make the BEST margarita. You'll want to start with a good cocktail tequila, which is different than sipping tequila.
Here is what you'll need to make this:
- Blanco tequila: use your favorite or one of these Blanco tequilas.
- Triple sec or Cointreau: triple sec is a bar staple (also cheaper), but Cointreau does not have that "alcohol" aftertaste, so you'll get a much better margarita.
- Lime juice: freshly squeezed only.
- Margarita salt: for the rim, optional.
- Lime wedge: for the rim and extra squeeze at the end.
- Ice: always chilled. Always!
- Cocktail shaker: a given, but I've been known to use a glass jar more often than not.
Make sure to grab the measurements in the printable recipe below!
Need a lighter option? Try this Low-Calorie Margarita instead!
How to make a Margarita
The best part about making a margarita at home is that you don't need fancy equipment; all you need are the right ingredients!
- Prep the glass
If you enjoy a salted glass, prep the rim of your glass by rubbing a lime wedge along the rim. Dip in tequila salt, and set aside.
- Measure & Shake
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau. Shake until the sides are fully frosted.
Pour, with the ice, into a highball or footed glass and garnish with a wedge of lime.
How to Salt a Rim
There's no judgment if you don't enjoy salt on the rim of your glass. But if you do, you'll need to grab some kosher salt, a plate, and something to wet the rim of your glass like a lime wedge!
To salt the rim of your glass, place some kosher salt on a saucer or small plate, rub lime along the rim of the glass, flip the glass over and give it a few turns to coat.
Note: iodized salt is not recommended because it has a stronger taste. If you don't have kosher salt, sea salt or celery salt will work too!
If you're into margaritas with salt, you might enjoy having a Margarita salt rimmer at home.
Tequila to Triple Sec Ratio for Margaritas
If you're using cheap triple sec, you'll want to use ½ ounce triple sec to 2 ½ ounces of tequila. If using Cointreau, you'll want to use a 1:1 ratio, as in 1 ½ ounces of Cointreau and 1 ½ ounces of good tequila.
The difference is obvious, triple sec is much cheaper than Cointreau, and it has a much stronger aftertaste. Yes, you can taste the difference.
If you're not sure about the difference, check out this Triple Sec vs. Cointreau post.
Is Triple Sec Necessary for Margaritas?
Yes, a good margarita includes triple sec, an orange liquor that adds depth of citrus flavor to this classic drink. Without it, you have tequila + lime juice... and that's not a margarita.
You can nearly always find triple sec at most grocery stores with the label: triple sec, Cointreau, Combier, Pierre Ferrand Curaçao.
Do you add Simple Syrup to a Margarita
If you prefer sweeter drinks, you can add about ½ ounce of simple syrup to your cocktail shaker when making a margarita.
Simple syrup is easy to make at home and you can keep it in the fridge for months! Here is my recipe for simple syrup for cocktails.
That said, I would like to encourage you to try this classic margarita recipe without it, especially if you're using good tequila and Cointreau. It's not needed.
The reason many bars use simple syrup in their margaritas is that they use well-liquor (the cheapest, off-brand) to make a margarita and the simple syrup not only sweetens the drink but also masks the shitty alcohol taste.
The secret to a great margarita
The secret to a great margarita is using good tequila and good triple sec. It's that simple! No margarita mixes, no syrups, none of the fake stuff.
When to Serve a Classic Margarita
There's never a bad time to serve a classic margarita because a good margarita pairs well with everything! Margaritas are perfect for sipping poolside, while making dinner, or with some epic tacos on Taco Tuesday.
Authentic Classic Margarita
- 1 ½ ounces tequila
- 1 ¼ ounce lime juice, about 1 lime
- 1 ½ ounce Cointreau or triple sec*
- Salt for the rim, optional
- Lime wedge, for garnish
- If you enjoy a salted glass, prep the rim of your glass by rubbing a lime wedge along the rim. Dip in tequila salt, and set aside.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau. Shake until the sides are fully frosted.
- Pour, with the ice, into a highball or footed glass and garnish with a wedge of lime.
- If you're using (no-brand/cheaper) triple sec, you'll want to use ½ ounce triple sec + 2 ½ ounces of tequila. If using Cointreau, you'll want to use a 1:1 ratio, as in 1 ½ ounces of Cointreau and 1 ½ ounces of good tequila.
- Want to make it sweeter? Add ½ ounce of simple syrup to the shaker.