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How to make the best Margarita, according to an expert

Give the tequila drink the care it deserves, with these five tips...

How to make the best Margarita, according to an expert

If there was ever a cocktail that can go very wrong, it's the Margarita. Get it right and it's a delicious, refreshing and earthy mix of the best tequila, triple sec, lime and salt. Get it wrong and it tastes like salty burning.

While we would all like to be having our margaritas on a beach somewhere, it’s highly likely that you will be looking to make a margarita at home - and now you can thanks to our 'how to make the best margarita guide'.

Now, we have done a lot of tequila tasting in our day but for this guide, we have roped in an expert: tequila educator Oliver Pergl. He has offered up his margarita making tips and a couple of recipes to try out...

(Main image: Getty Images)

How to make the perfect Margarita

How to make the best Margarita, according to an expert
Image: Getty Images

1. Don't forget the limes

What’s the Classic Margarita without the iconic Lime? Fresh Limes are always the best to use as they provide a sharp, clean taste undercutting the entire drink, and really brings the Margarita to that next level. However, at this time of year, Limes tend to be a bit harder because of the colder temperatures – what I usually do is to gently, yet firmly, roll the whole Lime on the work surface a couple of times, this will allow you to get a lot more juice, and therefore a lot more bang for your buck. One Lime will usually create one Margarita, a good rule of thumb when out buying ingredients too.

2. Its all about the salt rim

There’s many variations of the Margarita, but the Classic recipe dating back to the 1920s incorporates the use of a signature ‘Salted-Rim’ on the cocktail glass – my best recommendation is if your recreating this recipe is to opt for Sea Salt Flakes as opposed to Table Salt, it’ll feel more gentle in the mouth and actually adds a depth of flavour to the drink itself. With the Lime Wedge you’ll use for garnish, slice width-ways across it and rub it across the rim of the glass, dip it into a saucer of Sea Salt flakes and tap off the excess before pouring your cocktail inside.

3. You can use alternative ingredients

The formula for any Margarita is simple; Tequila + Sweet + Sour = Margarita. What it implies is that you do not strictly have to follow the recipe word for word – you can modify it depending on what ingredients you have available and what your preferred tastes are. I sometimes replace Lime with either fresh Lemon or Pink Grapefruit, and the Sweetness could come from a range of ingredients; Agave Nectar, Honey, Jams/Conserves, Fresh Fruits or even Juices – always remember that you need a balance between Sweet & Sour and to taste it before you pour it into the glass.

4. There is an art to citrus-juicing

I’ve already explained how to get more juice from your Limes, but how can you get to it if you don’t have a juicer? Most bartenders will use Citrus-Squeezers, sometimes nicknamed “Mexican Elbows”, but if you don’t have one of these lying around you could alternatively use a fork, or what I find best – squeezing the Citrus fruit between Kitchen Tongs, or even the inside of the Cocktail Shaker... It’s all about making it work with what you’ve got.

5. And for the main act: tequila

The base of any Margarita is traditionally Tequila, an Agave-made Spirit produced solely in only 5 States of Mexico. When making any Cocktail, let alone a Margarita, you don’t want to risk making it too strong (or also too weak for that matter), and I usually stick with a 50ml measure (U.K Standard Double Measure). You can play around with this and make the drink lighter/weaker for pairing it with Lunch for instance, but you can also lower the amount of Tequila and add another alcohol in too, such as a Fruit Liqueur or even a smoky Mezcal. It’s all making it YOUR Margarita.

How to make the best Margarita, according to an expert
Image: Getty Images

Fantastic Margarita recipes to try...

The Classic Margarita

  • Coupette Glass (rimmed w/ Sea Salt Flakes)
  • 50ml Silver Tequila
  • 20ml Fresh Lime Juic
  • 25ml Triple Sec

Method: Rim the glass with Lime Juice and Sea Salt, tap off any excess and put to the side. In a Cocktail Shaker add all ingredients with Ice and shake hard for 7-10 seconds. Fine-strain into Glass and garnish.

Garnish: Lime Wedge

The Margherita Margarita

  • 30ml Silver tequila
  • 12.5ml Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 15ml Basil Syrup
  • 50ml Tomato Water
  • 20ml Tomato Juice

Method: Thrown and Fine-Strained. Recommend serving with a salted rim rocks glass and garnish with cherry tomato and mozzarella ball with basil leaves and add cubed ice.

The British Margarita

  • 50ml Silver tequila
  • 25ml Lemon Juice
  • 3-5 Fresh Blackberries
  • 2-3 Sage Leaves
  • 15ml Agave Nectar

Method: Shake and fine-strain into a Pink Himalayan Salt-rimmed Rocks Glass over large ice cubes. Garnish with fresh blackberries & a sage leaf dusted with icing sugar.

(This article was originally published in 2021 and has been updated)