Make Margaritas!

photo credit: gourmetsleuth

Margarita History

No matter which story you choose to adopt, the recipe for the margarita dates back to the 1930's.  All the claims say the drink originated in Mexico including the Caliente Race Track in Tijuana, Rerita's Bar in Tasca, Mexico, Garci Crespon Hotel in Puebla and one Margarita Sames from San Antonio, Texas who said she used to make the drink for house guests when she was living in Acapulco.  And the claims go on...  

For years the margarita took the form of the standard drink made with tequila, Triple Sec (or Cointreau) and fresh lime juice. In the 1970's the frozen margarita became the standard preparation.  The ingredients stayed about the same although some establishments opted for a "margarita mix" which was mostly sugar or worse yet, chemical ingredients. The concoction was blended up with copious amounts of ice and served in tall-stemmed glasses which had been rimmed with coarse salt.

Fast forward to the late 1990's and now, the 2k's and the variety of margaritas have exploded.  In 1998 Rosa Mexicano restaurant was serving a tart pomegranate margarita.  Since then an exhaustive list of new flavors have appeared, some using traditional ingredients, and some using ingredients so non-traditional as to stretch the definition of the drink.

No matter what your preference, our list of traditional and nouveau recipes will surely help you find a new favorite.

When To Drink Margaritas

Some might answer whenever the sun is up, however Restauranteur Josefina Howard suggests that due to their acidity they are best served as a prelude to a meal rather than with a meal.  As an aside, she further suggests drinking Champagne or Sangria with your Mexican meal, followed by a shot of good-quality tequila as a digestive.  Now who could argue with that?

Margarita Ingredients - The Basics

Before you grab for that bottle of pre-made mix you may want to review the short list of ingredients it takes to a make a great quality drink from scratch.


Years ago Jose Cuervo was about the only tequila commonly found in the U.S. That has really changed since the mid 1990's.  There are hundreds of high-quality tequilas imported into the U.S. at this time.  Here is a list of the basic types of tequila.  The difference is primarily the amount of time the alcohol was aged.

  • Blanco - White tequila.  Not aged or aged for less than 2 months in stainless steel or oak.
  • Plata - Silver tequila. Not aged or aged for less than 2 months in stainless steel or oak.
  • Joven - A mixture of white and reposado tequila.
    Reposado - Which means rested, has aged at least 2 months but less than a year in oak.
  • Añejo - Aged tequila aged from 1 to 3 years in oak.
  • Extra Añejo - Extra aged, a minimum of 3 years in oak.

We suggest you reserve your expensive tequila for the after dinner digestive and use a nice plata or reposado tequila for your Margarita. 

Triple Sec or Cointreau

These orange flavored liqueurs are readily available in your local liquor store. Any mid-priced brand will do.

Fresh Limes

If you can find fresh Mexican (Key) limes then by all means purchase those, otherwise look for ripe Persian (standard grocery store) limes.  Both the juice and zest can be used in your drink.

Coarse Salt

If you like the rim of your glass salted then select a coarse salt that won't melt the moment it comes in contact with liquid.

Those are the basic ingredients so as you can see, there is little need to buy a mix.  We suggest you take the same approach to the other flavored margaritas.  Buy fresh or frozen ingredients without added salts, sugars or chemicals.

Margarita Glasses

In Mexico a traditional margarita would be served in a short highball sized glass.  In the U.S. the stemmed glass became popular.  Both styles of glasses can be found online or in your local kitchen store.  Stores like Cost Plus World Market carry the Mexican glasses. All the glassware below is from Cost Plus World Market.

old fashioned margarita glass margarita pitcher stemmed margarita glass
mexican old fashion drink glass margarita pitcher stemmed margarita glass

Fun Fact about Make Margaritas!

Basic Margarita Recipe

  • 1 1/2 ounces tequila of choice
  • 1/2 ounce Triple Sec or Cointreau
  • 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 scoop crushed ice
  1. Chill a stemmed or short glass.  Put coarse salt in a paper plate. Dip the rim of the glass in the salt.
  2. Place all ingredients in a shaker.  Shake the mixture gently, strain into the glass.  Garnish the drink with a lime peel.

lime peel knot for drink garnish


More Margaritas

Browse our extensive collection of Margarita Recipes.


Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.