The Classic Margarita’s cold limey-goodness has tantalized the taste buds of party-goers and casual observers alike for decades. The cocktail offers a delicious combination of tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and simple syrup – surrounded by a welcoming rim of salt.
Overview of the Classic Margarita
The Classic Margarita is one of the most iconic cocktails in the world, almost everyone’s had one. There’s just something about the drink that so admirably keeps us coming back for more. It’s both sophisticated and simple. The recipe is easy to remember and very easy to make. But its flavor is strong, dynamic, and bold. Tequila highlights the cocktail, while orange liqueur and lime juice pair beautifully in the mix. There’s simple syrup to sweeten everything up. Then to finish, a crown of salt brimming the rim to give the Classic Margarita its easily recognizable look. What more could you ask for? Well, maybe beachfront property and a Bentley I guess.
First, we have tequila. Tequila is the best part of the Classic Margarita! There are five main types of tequila, but despite each having a special place in my heart, the Classic Margarita needs blanco aka silver tequila to bolster its profile. Progressively aged varieties, like añejo or reposado, are enjoyed by many and can still be used in a Margarita. However, silver/blanco tequila is recommended because it retains its agave roots relative to the others, both in terms of sweetness and in boldness. Since it avoids the oak barrel which replaces naturally attained flavors with mellowed and warmer notes.
Further, when picking the brand of tequila you’d like to use, remember that even though cost and quality varies, the two don’t always accompany each other hand-in-hand. For instance, there are many high-quality tequilas you can choose that won’t break the bank! Here are a few you need to try!
Recommended Blanco/Silver Tequila Brands:
- Espolòn Blanco Tequila
- Don Julio Blanco
- Roca Patrón Silver
- Tequila Casa Dragones Blanco Silver
- Casamigos Blanco
Next, there’s the liqueur. Orange liqueur is an important ingredient in the Classic Margarita because it helps sweeten the drink, but it also adds a very nice burst of orange citrus that blends nicely with the lime juice. Triple Sec, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier are all great choices. Triple Sec is definitely the cheapest option, while Cointreau and Grand Marnier are much more expensive. The latter two each have their own distinct taste profiles both in the cocktail and by themselves.
Triple Sec has way more in common with Cointreau than either does with Grand Marnier. It’s made from the dried peels of bitter and sweet oranges. The liqueur is used in many popular cocktails including the Cosmopolitan, Long Island Iced Tea, and the Kamikaze. There are many different varieties available on the market, most are pretty similar in taste. I recommend trying these three brands:
- Drillaud Triple Sec – A well-made French Triple Sec.
- Mr. Stacks Triple Sec – A nicely balanced U.S. made Triple Sec.
- DeKuyper Triple Sec – Likely the most readily available; decent quality.
Cointreau is the most popular orange liqueur used in a Classic Margarita. I highly recommend it, given its high quality and authenticity to the original triple sec spirits. The liqueur is a mixture of bitter and sweet orange peels steeped in sugar alcohol overnight before it’s twice distilled. This creates a very clean flavor that’s citrusy, high quality, and clear, making it perfectly suited for many cocktails.
In contrast, Grand Marnier is made with blended cognac as its base spirit, then flavored with the distilled essence of bitter orange and sugar. The addition of cognac to the liqueur adds an aged, somewhat smoky flavor to its profile. The liqueur is well suited in a Classic Margarita. However, it’s particularly tasty in refined French cocktails like the Sidecar.
Next, we have the foot soldiers, the ingredients that do the dirty work. They would be the green lime and the splendid salt. So what would a Classic Margarita be without freshly-squeezed lime juice!? Freshly prepared juice is definitely the best option, but bottled juice can substitute if needed. Make sure you buy two limes per serving, so you’ll have plenty of juice and a little extra to slice a few wheels for garnish.
Kosher/sea salt is used to garnish the rim of the glass. The salty-rim gives the Classic Margarita its characteristic look, however, avoid iodized salt! Iodine is added to table salt in many countries to reduce the risk of iodine deficiency, which is a serious medical concern. However, iodized salt tastes way better in food than it does on the rim of a margarita glass, so pass it up and you use kosher or sea salt instead!
Finally, a little syrup to sweeten everything up. Simple syrup is a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water that’s used to sweeten many cocktails. The syrup’s nice because it allows you to easily sweeten any drink without worrying about dissolving granulated sugars. Agave syrup’s made from the same plant used to make tequila, some brands market the product as “nectar” but it’s not. So basically agave syrup and agave nectar are the same thing.
Important Note: Agave syrup/nectar has about double the sugar and calories of simple syrup. So keep that in mind when you’re adding sweetener to the recipe (i.e. you’ll need less agave syrup than simple syrup to accomplish the same thing).
How to Make a Classic Margarita
An authentic Classic Margarita recipe! Learn how to make a delicious Classic Margarita the right way. You’ll need five ingredients: blanco/silver tequila, orange liqueur, fresh lime juice, agave or simple syrup, and kosher/sea salt.
- Slice 2-3 lime wheels (per serving).
- On a plate or rimmer, pour an even layer of kosher/sea salt.
- Brush a lime wheel around the rim of your margarita glass, gently invert the glass onto the plate and evenly coat rim.
- In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, orange liqueur, freshly-squeezed lime juice, and agave/simple syrup (optional) with ice.
- Shake for 20-30 seconds then strain mixture into prepared glass.
- Garnish with lime wheels as desired.
*The caloric nutrition information is approximate and varies based upon ingredients used.
- Category: Cocktail
- Serving Size: 1-3
- Calories: 270
Keywords: Margarita, Tequila, Orange Liqueur, Lime
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