I’d say “everybody loves a Margarita,” but first, it’s demonstrably untrue. And there are at least 4,000 instances of that exact phrase in digital circulation, per Google. So instead I’ll say it’s a popular, cheerful drink — a bright and balanced classic of the “sour” type, and endlessly riffable.
More to the point, it also meets our immutable Happy Hour Quickie criteria: Easily gettable ingredients, fast assembly, and hard to screw up.
Classic Margarita recipe
- 2 oz. silver Tequila
- .75 oz lime juice
- .75 Cointreau
Garnish: Salted rim, if you want. Float a lime wheel for some visual interest.
Margarita: Essential details
- Always 2 oz. Tequila. This is ideally a boozy drink, and you want the tequila to push forward.
- Absolutely, positively, fresh, squoze-on-the-spot lime juice only. No pre-mix permitted. But you knew that.
- Use Cointreau for the orange liqueur. Triple sec, especially the cheap stuff, just doesn’t have the clean zip.
- Don’t use one of those Margarita glasses with the well at the bottom. They look cheap and silly. I have no idea why this glass exists. Can either of the regular A Measured Spirit readers explain?
Quickie happy tweaks
- Agave Margarita
- Replace the Cointreau with agave syrup.
- You’ll lose the orange-y notes, but gain a sort of earthy, vegetal authenticity. Agave is made of the same plant as Tequila.
- You’ll want to back off on the agave a bit — it’s sweeter, drop for drop, than Cointreau. Start with .25 oz and taste your way up into the zone.
- Agave also dials down the alcohol content of the glass without sacrificing the tequila vibe, since you’re replacing a liqueur bottled at 40% alcohol by volume with a virgin sweet.
- Ginger Margarita
- Replace the Cointreau with Domain de Canton ginger liqueur.
- My favorite of the many “[WTF]-rita” variations.
- Elegant, slightly exotic — without messing with the classic profile. Cut a piece of ginger root and run it around the rim to create a slight ginger lip tingle. Go ahead, I dare you.
- A Measured Spirit’s Margarita Oscuro ™:
- Swap in reposado tequila [a lightly golden version, barrel aged for less than a year] and Grand Marnier [an orange liqueur whose brandy base produces more of a “bottom” than Cointreau, at least in my humble estimation].
- Oscuro roughly translates to “dusky.”
- This transforms a bright and happy party drink into a darker, richer sipper. Perfect for a solo cocktail hour contemplating a summer sunset.
Hey, introverts need a happy hour too.