How to Make a Perfect Margarita?

Like so many things in cooking and bartending, the humble margarita is about taking a few simple ingredients and turning them into something incredible, and while there are thousands of recipes that put amazing spins on the classic margarita, learning how to make a perfect margarita starts with understanding the basics. It’s the same in cooking as it is in margaritas: once you understand the basics, you will be able to understand the complexities. Then you can go on to make some incredible drinks that your friends will really love, and probably not stop talking about.

At its core, the margarita is all about proportion. Since it consists of only four ingredients, you need to understand how to balance those ingredients together into one beautiful drink. That is why you should understand each of those ingredients and how they taste to understand how to make a margarita, so let’s go through each individually.

Part One: Tequila

First, there’s the tequila, the star of the margarita and the key to learning how to make a perfect margarita. Made from a special kind of blue agave grown in the Jalisco state in Mexico, tequila has a rich, sweet flavor that often ends with a beautiful herb and spice. The farmers in Jalisco have been growing blue agave for tequila in practically the same way for centuries, and the best tequilas let you taste the history of that process.

Tequilas, like whiskies, come in wide range of flavors, meaning there is a best tequila for every different kind of margarita. In general, go for a top quality, 100% agave tequila, like Platinum tequila, for your classic margarita mix. This tequila is perfect for learning how to make a perfect margarita because it is the classic done right.

After you’ve mastered the classic, you can branch out in recipes and tequila. A mango tequila, for example, is the perfect spirit for a fruitier, sweeter blended tequila at your next barbecue. An añejo tequila is perfect for sophisticated spins on other classics, like the Manhattan or old fashioned. Once you’ve learned how to make a perfect margarita, you can branch out into different tequilas for different tastes.

Part Two: Limes

Now this may seem silly, but limes are integral to making the perfect margarita, and many people do not understand how to get the proportions right. Even famous chefs leave out the correct amount of how much lime to use in a margarita. The trick for limes when learning how to make a perfect margarita comes down to proportions and freshness. It is always better to use a fresh lime instead of lime juice for your margaritas. The flavor of bottled lime juice simply does not compare and can often make your margaritas too sour since the citric acidity can break down the sugars of the juice. In general, you will need to juice the lime and then pour the right amount into your margarita mixture. A good bar is 2/3 part lime juice to 1 part tequila, so if you are using 1.5 ounces of tequila, use 1 ounce of lime juice. And be sure to use fresh, regular limes, not key limes and certainly not lemons (which people think are interchangeable with limes. They are not).

Part Three: Triple Sec

Triple Sec is one of the most commonly available orange liqueurs for a good reason: it is a classic, delicious example of what it is. Many recipes for margaritas call for it specifically and it is a building block in learning how to make a perfect margarita. Once you have mastered the basics, you can branch out into different orange liqueurs as you like, Cointreau being another popular favorite. It depends on your personal taste and what you are making, just like picking the perfect tequila for your specific margarita recipe.

Part Four: Salt

Always use a finer grain sea salt, which features thicker chunks than table salt and has a less intense flavor. Using larger grains will pack every sip with too much salt, not to mention it will likely fall off everywhere and make a mess. So when you are learning how to make a perfect margarita, stick to high-quality, fine sea salt.

In your quest in learning how to make a perfect margarita, you will need to master the basics, and that means understanding how every ingredient works separately and together. Do not be scared to experiment after you have mastered the classic. They are meant to be enjoyed, after all, so make them the most enjoyable!

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