How To Make A Margarita Straight Out Of Mexico

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What better way to get suitably sozzled than by drinking a few margaritas? The tequila-based cocktail is a favourite of many, most likely due to the fact it has all the benefits of drinking tequila, but with its taste enhanced by a sweet layer of lime, orange liqueur and, in some instances, agave syrup.

It lends itself to being drunk at any time of the day, as opposed to some other classics, such as the Old Fashioned, that are perhaps better suited to evening drinking. With all manner of variations available too, whether it be a different flavour or served frozen, the margarita is a fun and easy cocktail to make, and one that is certainly here to stay.

Origin Of The Margarita

The exact origin of the margarita is just as blurry as you become after drinking a few. Some reports suggest Iowa newspaper editor James Graham discovered the drink in Tijuana in 1936, while the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, published in 1937, features a recipe using the exact same ingredients and measurements as the margarita, but calling it the Picador instead.

Fast forward one year to 1938 and Carlos “Danny” Herrera stakes his claim to inventing the ol’ margy at his restaurant, Rancho La Gloria, nestled between Tijuana and Rosarito, Baja California. However, the strongest claims to the margarita’s invention lie with Francisco “Pancho” Morales, who is said to have made the drink in Juárez, Chihuahua on July 4, 1942, at Tommy’s Place Bar.

There is a whole list of claims as to who really invented the margarita, so it seems weaving out the genuine claims from those without much evidence is easier said than done. Whoever invented it, gracias.

Margarita Cocktail Ingredients

The main spirit base for the margarita is tequila, and with so many bottles coming out of its namesake home in Mexico, experimenting with different tastes is incredibly easy. But, to start, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Tequila (Try 1800 or Altos)
  • Triple sec/orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau)
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Agave syrup for added sweetness
  • Salt for rim
  • Margarita glass (similar to a cocktail/martini glass, but with a stepped diameter)
  • Cocktail shaker

Classic Margarita Cocktail Measurements

We’ll get into the many variations later, but first, you must master the basic measurements for the margarita. Luckily, it’s incredibly easy to follow. The official IBA measurements for the margarita read like this:

  • 50ml tequila
  • 20ml triple sec/orange liqueur
  • 15ml lime juice

However, Proximo‘s Tequila Specialist Hayley Dixon calls upon American cocktail bar Death & Co for her classic recipe, which adds in agave nectar.

  • 50ml blanco/silver tequila
  • 20ml Cointreau
  • 25ml lime juice
  • 7.5ml agave nectar
  • Lime wedge garnish

She adds that because of its blurry history, “nobody really knows the original recipe and even if they do, it most certainly would not suit our palettes today.”

How To Make The Margarita Cocktail

The classic margarita is undoubtedly one of the easiest cocktails to make and once you have the recipe nailed down, you’ll be churning them out at breakneck speed.

  1. Cut into a lime wedge and rub lime juice around half the rim of a margarita glass
  2. Dip the glass into salt to create a salt rim
  3. Pour ice into the glass to chill
  4. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker along with a big scoop of ice
  5. Shake well until cold
  6. Strain into the cocktail glass (some methods say to single strain, while others call for a double strain. A single strain method will include ice shards in the drink while the double strain will remove them. It’s a matter of preference.)

Variations Of The Classic Margarita

The margarita cocktail lends itself to some great experimentation. Virtually any other fruit juice can be added to provide a new flavour. Popular choices include mango, peach, pineapple, banana and strawberry, but you can easily trial and error all manner of ingredients.

Not only can you use various tequilas, but you can switch out Cointreau for other orange-flavoured liqueurs such as Grand Marnier. Alternatively, you can try using other fruit-flavoured liqueurs to introduce new flavours.

The limes you use can play an important role in the overall taste of your margarita too. You should always use fresh lime juice, but the region your limes come from will have their own unique tastes.

Expert Twist On The Margarita

Being a Tequila Specialist, Hayley certainly knows her way around a margarita. However, her expert twist actually comes from another bartender who she has previously worked for.

“For the margarita twist I have taken a drink from one of the best bartenders/owners I have ever had the pleasure of working for, Joe Jones, the owner of Romeo Lane. It follows a similar template as the Daisy cocktail – said to be the inspiration for the margarita – and although is such a simple concept, is one of the best drinks I have had, that I never would have thought to create myself. One of Joe’s best qualities was making cocktails that are so simple in their foundation that packs in serious flavour no other bartender had thought to combine yet.”

‘Summer Time’


‘Whip’ all ingredients over ice and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with Lemon Crescent.


  1. First up you will need to make your ginger syrup. Fresh and homemade is always best but if you’re feeling a little lazy, head to your closest grocery or health food store and try to find yourself ‘Rochester Ginger.’ If you’re up for a little extra work grab yourself some fresh ginger and fine caster sugar. Juice your ginger either in a juicer if you have one or you can also grate it finely and then squeeze it through a clean Chux to obtain your juice. You will need around ½ cup of fresh ginger juice. On average this requires approximately 650g of Ginger.
  2. Next, you need to add your caster sugar. The ginger juice will dissolve the sugar quite easily by just stirring it in of if you have a blender feel free to speed up the process. You will require 1 cup of superfine caster sugar to your ½ cup ginger juice. Make sure you keep tasting it as you add in the sugar, you don’t want to lose the beautiful spice in the ginger. Stir or blend until completely combined.
  3. Get your double rocks or tumbler glass into the freezer – the colder the better.
  4. Juice your fresh lemon juice.
  5. Add all ingredients to your cocktail shaker.
  6. Make up some crushed ice – this part is always fun. Get yourself an old but clean tea towel and add a bunch of ice to the centre, then wrap it up so none can go flying out on you. Get yourself something sturdy that you can hit and break up the ice with, a rolling pin, muddling stick or something similar. Whilst holding all your ice in place with your tea towel on a benchtop, use your rolling pin to hit and crush up the ice. If you need to just do small amounts at a time. If you have an ice crusher and don’t have any anger or frustrations to get out, feel free to use that.
  7. Fill your cold glass straight out of the freezer with the crushed ice, you don’t want to add it afterwards or it may overflow. Make sure you pack in as much as possible into your glass.
  8. Add 2 cubes of ice to your cocktail shaker and give it a light shake, because your drink is being served over crushed ice you don’t want to add too much dilution to the drink, just get it a little colder and combine all your ingredients.
  9. Strain your cocktail into your glass, making sure you leave about 1.5cm to the top of the glass, you don’t want cocktail and ice all over the place.
  10. Add some more crushed ice to the top of the cocktail to form a sort of ‘cone’ on the top.
  11. Garnish with your lemon crescent.

How To Drink A Margarita

Ideally, you’re going to want to be at a Mexican-themed bar where you can sample the many flavour variations of the iconic cocktail. Wherever you drink yours though, you’re likely going to be with a large group of friends on a mission to get as drunk as possible, but you’re too chicken to consume multiple shots to achieve the desired effect.

Bar, cruise ship, all-inclusive hotel resort, the choice is yours.

Margarita FAQ

How to make frozen margaritas?

Put the usual ingredients for a margarita in a high-power blender, add ice and blend until slushy-texture. Serve in a glass with salted rim and some lime slices.

What is a skinny margarita?

A skinny margarita is a low-calorie (about 106 calories) version of your regular margarita. You use fresh orange or lime juice and agave nectar instead of the usual orange liqueur mix.

Can you make margaritas with vodka?

Yes. Use equal amount of vodka as replacement for tequila and follow the regular margarita recipe. Many fondly calls this drink “vodkarita.” It should taste a bit different, but still good.

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