How to Serve Up the Perfect Margarita
Choose the highest quality ingredients, master the art of the salt rim and discover blended, straight up or on the rocks recipes to wow your guest.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
The Margarita is a stone-cold classic cocktail and undoubtedly the most popular tequila-based cocktail you'll find anywhere in the world. Discover how to perfect your Margarita, from choosing the highest quality ingredients to mastering the art of the salt rim and learning blended, straight up or on the rocks recipes to wow your guest.
What's in a Margarita?
- Triple-sec is occasionally substituted with similar liqueurs like orange curacao or branded liqueurs that are both sweet and (with varying nuances) flavoured with orange.
- The tequila can be blanco, reposado or añejo (depending on your preference and budget), each providing a distinct profile to the cocktail. Blanco is typically the most popular choice.
How is a Margarita presented?
Whilst the three constituent ingredients are fixed, bartenders may differ in how they prepare and present their Margarita, whether blended, shaken, straight up or on-the-rocks.
For a Margarita's trademark salt rim, some bartenders serve the cocktail with a full salt rim, some prefer to coat half the rim with salt (to give drinkers a choice), and some forego salt altogether.
Three Simple Margarita Recipes
- Margarita ‘On the Rocks’ is prepared by mixing the ingredients over ice and is served in a glass with the ice cubes included. See Recipe.
- Margarita ‘Straight up’ is prepared by mixing, shaking or stirring the ingredients with ice and serving by straining the drink into a glass without any ice cubes. See Recipe.
- Margarita ‘Blended’ also known as a Frozen Margarita, is prepared by blending all the ingredients together with ice to create a smooth, icy, and slushy texture. See Recipe.
Salt Rim Top Tips
The salt rim isn't solely for aesthetics. It serves to enhance the flavour balance by adding a salty contrast to the sweetness and tartness of the drink.
Use Good Quality Salt.
- Salt is added to the rim of the Margarita glass, rather than directly to the shaker or blender, for a textural accompaniment and a flavour nuance.
- Sourcing good quality flaked sea salt for your Margaritas is essential.
- While good quality salt won't make a poorly made Margarita taste good, cheap granulated table salt will make a well-made Margarita taste bad and even make a poorly made Margarita taste worse.
Keep the salt out of the drink.
- When preparing the salt rim, use a lime wedge or napkin to remove excess salt from the inside of the glass. This will keep salt and liquid separated until consumption.
- Avoid overfilling the glass to leave a clear 'wash line' between the cocktail and the rim.
- Attach the salt firmly to the rim of the glass by applying an adhesive to the rim of the glass. For example, rub a wedge of lime around the rim of the glass to moisten it and then dip the moist rim into a dish of salt.
- With the salt kept on the rim and out of the liquid, the guest can enjoy their Margarita how they like it.
Five Key Takeaways
- Margarita's Popularity and Profile: The Margarita is a classic cocktail known for its simplicity, tangy taste, and lively character, making it the most popular Tequila-based cocktail worldwide.
- Ingredients and Variations: The essential ingredients of a Margarita are tequila, lime juice, and triple-sec. While these components are standard, variations in the choice of triple-sec and tequila provide different flavour profiles.
- Presentation and Preparation: Margaritas can be prepared and presented in various ways, including blended, shaken, straight up, or on the rocks.
- Salt Quality: High-quality flaked sea salt is recommended as cheap granulated table salt will spoil the taste of a well-made Margarita.
- Salt Rim: Make sure the salt is firmly attached to the rim of the glass using an adhesive. For example, rub a wedge of lime around the glass to moisten it and then dip the moist rim into a dish of salt.
Once you've decided on how you'll serve your Margarita (blended, shaken, straight up and on the rocks) and mastered the application of salt to the appropriate glass, you're ready to make a Margarita that will wow your guests.
Whether enjoyed on the rocks, blended to icy perfection, or savoured straight up, the Margarita is a classic, iconic tequila cocktail, and worth mastering to lay a strong foundation for future creative cocktail exploration.
Find more cocktail making techniques and develop your bar skills when you sign up to the Diageo Bar Academy.
Find more inspiration!