What is a Margarita?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2019
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A margarita is a cocktail which is made with tequila, orange liqueur, and lemon or lime juice. Numerous variations on the margarita have flooded the market, including margaritas with fruit juices or blended fruit, and frozen margaritas, which are made by blending these ingredients with ice. These cocktails are commonly on offer at bars and restaurants, and they are also very easy to make at home.

Many people associate the margarita specifically with Mexico, since it is believed to be Mexican in origin and tequila is a Mexican alcohol. As a result, margaritas are frequently on the menu at restaurants which serve Mexican food, and at Mexican resorts and hotel bars. The associations with Mexico have also led to a profusion of Mexican-themed margarita accessories, like sombreros or cocktail glasses with handles which are designed to resemble cacti.

The precise ratio of ingredients in a margarita varies. Some bartenders prefer a 3:2:1 ratio, with three parts tequila, two parts orange liqueur, and one part lemon or lime juice. Others like 1:1:1, 2:1:1, and so forth. Ultimately, the ratio decision is a matter of taste and available ingredients; some people, for example, prefer less citrus juice, because the citrus can make the drink taste acidic or better, especially when it comes from fruits of low quality. When fruit juice is added, it can throw the ratio off with its sweetness and strong flavor.


The orange liqueurs used in a margarita are typically in the triple sec family. Triple sec was developed in France in the 1800s, and there are a number of popular brands in an array of colors, including blue Curacao, which adds an exotic note, Grand Marnier, and Cointreau. Typically, silver or white tequilas are used in the drink, and lime juice is the classic choice of citrus, especially if key limes are available.

Traditionally, a margarita is served in a cocktail glass which has been rimmed with salt. Margarita salt is a variety of coarse salt which complements the flavor of the tequila while adding a faint crunch to the drinking experience. The drink can be served straight, or over ice, depending on personal taste. It is also possible to find frozen margaritas, although purists may look down their noses at this member of the margarita family. When fruit juices are added, the drink is usually named after them, as is the case with strawberry and raspberry margaritas.


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