How to Make and Enjoy a Very Good Margarita Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

How to Make and Enjoy a Very Good Margarita

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A pink cocktail

Legend has it that the first one was made for an actress whose name was Margarita (see the entry Cocktails Named for the Stars) but the truth of this story remains to be proved. As a drink, there are hundreds of variations of how to make one, and some purists refuse any other way but their own.

A Traditional Recipe


  • 3 measures Silver or Gold Tequila
  • 1 measure Triple Sec
  • 2 measures Lime juice
  • Coarse salt
  • Lime wedge


  1. Rub the rim of a large cocktail glass with the lime wedge and dip it into a saucer of coarse salt.

  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.

  3. Shake well and strain into the chilled, salted cocktail glass1.

This, however, is a personal version, and it's really quite wonderful - sweeter then normal, without such a harsh tequila taste.

A More Exotic Alternative

Get your hands on a blender, an absolutely essential tool in this version of Margarita making, and plug it in.


  • One tin of Limeade concentrate, as might be sold in your local supermarket, frozen.
  • Tequila
  • Triple Sec - a citrus liqueur, Cointreau or Curacao are fine substitutes.
  • Grand Marnier - another orange liqueur; nothing really can replace it in this recipe, but if you must, just go a little heavy on the Triple Sec.
  • Ice


  1. Prepare any garnish that needs to be done in advance, such as 'rimming' the glasses with lime and salt.

  2. Empty the tin of concentrate into the blender. Fill the empty tin with tequila, and pour that in the blender. Now fill the tin half way with Triple Sec, and pour it in as well.

  3. Top up the blender with ice, then blend to desired consistency. Pieces of ice the size of small ball-bearings (3mm approximately) are very palatable. Some people prefer bigger chunks, others prefer the ice to be melted.

  4. Pour into glasses (traditional glasses are pleasant, but anything that holds liquid will do at a pinch) and pour in a dash of Grand Marnier. Now add any final garnish.

Some Garnishing Ideas

  • Some people like to salt the rims of their glasses, some people do not. Before you make and pour the drink, rub the rim of the glass or glasses with the pulpy side of a lime wedge, then dip the rim into a saucer filled with coarse salt. Ordinary table salt isn't particularly well-suited to this, nor is it very aesthetically pleasing. There are special 'margarita salts' to be found in well-stocked supermarkets, if you feel fancy.

  • A wedge of lime on the rim can look nice, and it's also a very convenient place to put it if you have just salted the rim with it.

  • A little paper umbrella can also look pleasant, if you don't mind going to the trouble of buying some.

  • Another more glamorous idea would be to set light to it. This is a little dangerous, however, and it also burns the alcohol out of the drink, so be warned. It will light by simply holding a match close to the surface - don't actually put the match in it.

The Perfect Atmosphere for Drinking Margaritas

Part of the whole Margarita-drinking experience is in your surroundings, so do your best. Ideally, you should be on a beach on the Gulf of Mexico, though any fantastic beach would work, or even no beach, if you're unfortunate enough not to be near one. Now, clothing. Sandals and 'boardshorts', or a surfing bathing suit for guys, and cut-off jean shorts and light button-down shirts for girls are recommended by the original mixer of this version. Anoraks and woollies, however, can be removed as necessary, weather permitting.

Music is a key part of the atmosphere. Most people will prescribe 'Margaritaville' by Jimmy Buffet. This is, however, a little old and somewhat clich├ęd. Better recommendations include a song called 'Banditos' by the Refreshments, or any song by the Buena Vista Social Club. Making your own 'mix tape' or CD including both would be ideal. Get this music going, and then it's time to mix your drinks.

A Few Side Notes.

  • It's best to drink these in moderation. They have quite a high alcohol content, and will get you drunk rather quickly. Nobody likes the guy who pukes. Never drink these if you plan to drive.

  • Don't drink them too fast, as they are iced as well as being alcoholic, and can really set sensitive teeth jangling, as well as giving the imbiber the dreaded 'brain freeze'.

  • Serving these with Mexican food is quite nice. Nice spicy tacos are highly recommended.

  • If you serve them in real glass, as opposed to plastic, the condensation will freeze to the outside of the glass. An unbelievably 'cool' effect.

  • Margaritas can be the perfect excuse for arranging a social occasion, as they are best drunk in company, savouring the atmosphere as well as the taste.

1Sally Ann Berk, The New New York Bartender's Guide, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers Inc 1997.

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