Classic Margarita

Buy tequila marked "100% de agave and that has been aged for at least 2 months.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cocktail


  • 1 1/2 ounce (3 Tbsp) blanco tequila (also called plato or silver tequila)
  • 1 ounce (2 Tbsp) orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec, Cointreau, or Grand-Marnier
  • 1/2 ounce (1 Tbsp) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Plenty of kosher or flake salt for glass, optional (do not use iodized salt)
  • Ice cubes, optional
  • Lime wedges for garnish, optional

Special equipment:


1 Salt your glass (optional): Pour some kosher salt into a wide bowl or small dish. Take a wedge of lime and generously rub it around the rim of your glass. Dip the rim into the salt.

Fill the glass with some fresh ice and set aside. (Skip the ice if you like your margarita straight up.)

2 Make the cocktail: Place the tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake for 10 seconds, and then strain into a prepared cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge if desired.

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  • Steve

    Oh, the Margarita! You can see it in the comments. Probably only the Martini and Vodkatini elicit so many personal variations.

    Find your favorite tequila!
    Maybe mix in some Mezcal!
    Salt the rim? Maybe half the rim?
    Add simple syrup?
    And, oh my goodness… WHAT RATIOS?

    Some cocktails, like the Negroni, are set in stone. For the Margarita, the options, from such a short list of ingredients, are endless!


  • vvas

    I don’t know, this is a personal preference of course, but I find the 3:2 Tequila:Cointreau proportion a bit much. I want to taste the tequila dammit, not the orange! Over at Serious Eats they have a 2:1 recipe (2 oz tequila, 1 oz Cointreau, ¾ oz lime), and even that I find a bit borderline. In fact, they suggest a different set of proportions for budget tequilas (2 oz tequila, 1 oz lime, ¾ oz Cointreau, ¼ oz simple syrup), and I find that I tend to prefer that one even with my relatively high-quality bottle of Tapatío. Perhaps it’s time for me to give Tommy’s Margarita a second chance…

    Also, regarding the salt: you know how most people (most bartenders too in fact) just turn the glass upside down and dip the entire rim into the salt at the same time? Please don’t do that. This results in salt on both the outside *and* the inside of the rim, as in the photos above, and then the salt that’s on the inside starts to dissolve into the drink every time you take a sip, and soon you have a salty margarita. Ewww. I actually stopped asking for salt in bars because of this, even though I like the combination.

    What I recommend doing instead is tilting the glass at an almost horizontal angle and rotating the rim into the salt so that only the outside gets coated. And if you do it that way consider salting only half the rim, to give your guest the option to drink their margarita either with or without the salt.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Vvas, I guess it depends on how much you like salt! Traditional tequila shots are done by sprinkling the part of the back of your hand between your thumb and forefinger with fresh squeezed lime juice, then sprinkling with salt, then taking a shot of tequila and licking your hand. I for one LOVE the salt so want it on the inside and the outside of the glass, which is how I’ve enjoyed margaritas my entire life. That said, of course if you are making the drink for others, it’s a good idea to ask them if they want a salted rim or not. Some people don’t want, or shouldn’t have, extra salt.

    • Steve

      If you want to minimize salt on the inside of the rim, drag the lime over just the outside rim of the glass. I’ve also seen folks clean up that bottom edge of the salt on the outside to make it straight; primarily a presentation thing.

      I’m surprised the recipe says garnish with a lemon wedge. Typo? Are there any tequila-lemon cocktails?

  • Carlos

    A perfect combination. I use Tajín instead of salt for the rimming, it looks and tastes even better!


  • Lisa B

    I was craving a straight up margarita and this recipe was spot on. Thanks Garrett!


  • chris

    as a bartender, i whole-heartedly agree that margaritas, like most cocktails, are best kept simple. this is also one of the few cocktails in which i absolutely require that the rim is garnished – the salt is important to this drink. something else i’d never tell you if you were sitting at my bar: don’t try to take this drink upscale. while i don’t recommend rail liquor, there is no need to go with cointreau and it’s super-premium price, either. stick with “regular” tequila and triple sec, your head won’t mind and your pocket will thank you.

    there is a great variation called the sidecar which subs brandy for tequila, which gives a wonderful smoky taste (sub sugar for the salt on the rim, though i usually pass because of the messiness, but the cherry is delicious)

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Chris, I couldn’t agree with you more about the salt rim! There’s something about tequila, lime, and salt. Years ago I met a self-described “communist” (American) who had been living in South America for years. He taught me the way to drink tequila straight was to make a fist, sprinkle lime juice on the skin between the first knuckle and your thumb, sprinkle with salt, drink some tequila, then lick the salt off your hand. It’s the best.

  • Sonja

    I use a 3:2:1 ratio as well! I love it, but so many people I’ve made it for really don’t care for it, it’s very different from that limeade slushee flavor that a lot of people associate with a margarita.

  • Mary K. Furness

    This is almost exactly how my husband makes his. Sometimes I like the rim salted, sometimes not. He has spoiled me completely for margaritas made and served in restaurants–I won’t order them anymore!
    Thanks for your recipes–I believe I’ll have one now!

  • Steve

    My favorite proportions:
    1 ½ ounces tequila, (recommended: high quality blanco)
    1 ½ ounces Triple Sec, (recommended: Cointreau)
    1 ounce lime juice

  • Dawn

    I will have to try your recipe soon. Mine is similar, but I use 1oz of lime juice (juice of one Persian lime) and a scant 1/2oz of Agave Syrup to sweeten it just a little more, as the extra lime in mine makes it very tart without.