How to Make the Perfect Margarita

Feb 22, 2018

If you’re looking for a good excuse to enjoy a margarita, then today is your day—it’s National Margarita Day! Read through our mini margarita-tribute and learn how to create the perfect margarita!

Margaritas 101
There are more than a few “origination stories” floating around about how the margarita actually came to be. Was it made for Margarita Henkel, German chancellor’s daughter? A Ziegfield Follies dancer allergic to every spirit except tequila? Or is it simply a version of the south-of-the border Prohibition-era favorite the “Daisy” (margarita being Spanish for daisy)? No one can with 100% surety say, but a hazy past just adds to one’s allure…

What we do know is the margarita recipe first appeared in print as Esquire magazine’s drink of the month in December 1953, fueling a new passion for tequila.

Perfect the Original
Ready to create the perfect margarita? Here's how:

Have the right tools
First things first: to craft the perfect margarita, a few tools are necessary. While pros can eyeball proportions perfectly, us mere mortals will find a jigger is necessary for getting ratios right (wrong ratios = disgusting margaritas). And although you can shake or stir your margarita batch, Shaun Gordon—pro bartender and winner of Patron’s “Margarita of the Year” contest—says you should always shake to ensure proper flavor distribution. So add a cocktail shaker to your list of must-haves (next to a jigger).

Lime or Lemon
To create an authentic margarita, you’ll want key limes—but the International Bartenders Association’s standard states that a proper margarita should be 50% tequila, 29% Cointreau, and 21% fresh lime or lemon juice, so let your tastebuds be your guide.

Get salty
While not strictly necessary, salt on the rim of your margarita glass is tradition, creating a delicious contrast that highlights the sweetness of the drink. Plus, it looks the business. To do it properly (according to Gordon), dampen just the outer rim of your glass with a lime and roll lightly in salt—a thick crust of it can ruin your carefully crafted flavor.

The right glass? There is no right glass
Yes, margaritas and margarita-glasses go hand-in-hand, but don’t be afraid to serve your drinks in glasses that fit the occasion. Backyard barbecue? Mason jars. Brunch? Champagne flutes. Impromptu margarita night? Anything goes! Try chilling your glassware too for a drink that stays cool longer.

Mix Things Up
Once you’ve perfected the classic, what’s left to do but toy with perfection? Experiment with recipes (these 25 are a great place to start), or play around and create your own signature margarita. But don’t stop at the main event: try flavoring and coloring the salt—or even the ice—too!

How will you be enjoying National Margarita Day (besides a margarita of course!)?