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Step up your margarita game with the Cadillac Margarita! It uses top-shelf tequila and Grand Marnier liqueur for a smooth, sophisticated twist.

Cadillac margarita in margarita glass with salt rim.
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Want a sophisticated spin on the margarita? When we have friends over and want to step it up a notch, we pull out the Cadillac! It’s one of our favorite spins on this classic tequila cocktail using top quality tequila and Grand Marnier. It has a smooth, nuanced flavor that makes everyone say, “Wow! What’s in this?”

Why we love a Cadillac margarita: As two cocktail experts with over 300 cocktail recipes in our library and 25+ margarita recipes under our belt, the Cadillac is a tried and true favorite! The pop of citrus against the bitter orange, vanilla and oak notes in the Grand Marnier gets us every time. It’s a great way to step up your cocktail game with very little effort.

Ingredients in a Cadillac margarita

A Cadillac margarita is a version of the classic margarita using premium ingredients: best quality tequila and orange liqueur, with Grand Marnier floated onto the top of the drink. This luxurious spin on the classic is believed to have gained mainstream popularity in the 1980s in Southern California restaurant chains. Adding the nuanced, sophisticated Grand Marnier flavor takes this drink over the top. Here are the ingredients you’ll use:

  • Grand Marnier
  • Best quality tequila, reposado if possible
  • Cointreau
  • Lime juice

You’ll pour the Grand Marnier right onto the other ingredients so that it floats on top (though it gradually sinks to the bottom over time). If you prefer a margarita on the sweeter side, you can add a hint of simple syrup or agave nectar. But we like it without added sweetener: the drink comes out perfectly balanced and the smooth, citrusy flavor makes it irresistible.

What’s Grand Marnier?

Grand Marnier is a French brandy liqueur made with Cognac, bitter orange, and sugar. The bottle you’ll most often see is called Cordon Rouge, the Grand Marnier brand’s most popular product. What does Grand Marnier taste like? You’ll taste bitter orange and brandy first, then the sip finishes with notes of vanilla and oak.

Grand Marnier bottle with Cadillac margarita.

Best tequila for a Cadillac margarita

Many margarita recipes use tequila blanco (unaged or “new” tequila). For the Cadillac margarita, we like it best with a tequila reposado (aged). We like how it gives the drink even more layers of flavor with notes of caramel, honey and vanilla.

  • Look for a mid-priced tequila. Try 750 ml bottles in the range of $22 to $35.
  • Tequila reposado (aged) makes a smooth, sophisticated margarita. It’s aged 2 to 12 months in oak barrels and has notes of oak, vanilla, and caramel. Some brands we like are Casamigos, Milagro Reposado, and Suerte Reposado.
  • Tequila blanco also works. It has a straightforward agave-centric flavor and spicy finish. Some brands we like are Espolon Blanco, El Tesoro Blanco, Patrón Silver, and Casamigos.

How to make a Cadillac margarita: step by step

The Cadillac Margarita is comes together simply by shaking up a few ingredients, then floating the Grand Marnier over the top.

  • Step 1: Cut a notch in a lime wedge, then run the lime around the rim of a glass. Dip the edge of the rim into a plate of flaky sea salt (or margarita salt).
  • Step 2: Place 1 ½ oz tequila, 1 oz Cointreau and 1 oz lime juice in a cocktail shaker, add 4 ice cubes, and shake until cold.
  • Step: Strain the margarita into the glass with the salted rim. Then carefully pour 1 oz Grand Marnier onto the top of the drink over an inverted spoon. Serve immediately, straight up in a margarita glass or on the rocks in a lowball glass with clear ice.
Cadillac Margarita with Grand Marnier bottle.

Rim variations: salt, Tajín, and more!

🌶️ You can use simple kosher salt for the rim or step it up with colorful margarita salt with lime and orange zest. Or, try a Tajín rim: it’s a Mexican seasoning blend of chili peppers, lime, and salt that adds a burst of tangy, spicy flavor.

A few more great cocktails

This Cadillac Margarita is a hands-down classic! Here are a few more of our refreshing cocktail recipes you might also enjoy:

  • A Classic Mojito is perfectly balanced with lime, rum and fresh mint! This iconic Cuban cocktail is refreshing and just sweet enough.
  • The Paloma is relative of the classic margarita, this easy Mexican cocktail starring grapefruit instead of lime.
  • Here are the keys to the very best Gin and Tonic, the most refreshing 2-ingredient cocktail!

Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between a regular margarita and a Cadillac margarita?

A classic margarita uses tequila, lime juice, and sweetener, while a Cadillac margarita adds a splash of luxury with Grand Marnier, a French orange liqueur. This gives the Cadillac margarita a smoother, more complex flavor profile. Some Cadillac margaritas also use a premium tequila or a tequila reposado.

What type of tequila should I use for a Cadillac margarita?

For the best results, use a premium reposado tequila. This aged tequila has a smoother flavor that complements the Grand Marnier without overpowering it.

My Cadillac margarita is not sweet enough! How can I adjust it?

You can add a hint of simple syrup or agave nectar, to taste.

What’s the best way to rim a glass for a Cadillac margarita?

Simple kosher salt works well, or try mixing it up with margarita salt, a chili lime salt rim for a spicy kick, or a Tajín rim.

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Cadillac margarita

Cadillac Margarita


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

3.4 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x

Description

Step up your margarita game with the Cadillac Margarita: it uses top-shelf tequila and Grand Marnier liqueur to add sophistication and style!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 ½ ounces best quality tequila reposado
  • 1 ounce Cointreau (or Triple Sec)
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier
  • Kosher salt or flaky sea salt, for the rim
  • For the garnish: lime wedge

Instructions

  1. Cut a notch in a lime wedge, then run the lime around the rim of a glass. Dip the edge of the rim into a plate of flaky sea salt (or for a festive look, use our Margarita Salt).
  2. Place tequila, Cointreau and lime juice in a mixing glass and fill with 4 ice cubes. Shake until cold.
  3. Strain the margarita into the glass with the salted rim. Then carefully pour the Grand Marnier onto the top of the drink over an inverted spoon (it will float on top, then gradually sinks to the bottom over time). Serve straight up in a margarita glass or on the rocks in a lowball glass with clear ice, garnished with a lime wedge.

Notes

To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons

Sweet variation: If you prefer a margarita on the sweeter side, add a hint of simple syrup or agave nectar, to taste (start with 1 teaspoon).

Rim variations: Try margarita salt, a chili lime salt rim for a spicy kick, or a Tajín rim.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktail

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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8 Comments

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!






  2. Dan says:

    Was ok but not the best by far






  3. Didn't work says:

    Did not float on top. FAIL recipe.Grand Marnier sinks to bottom.






    1. Sonja says:

      The Grand Marnier will originally float, then sink to the bottom as the drink sits!






  4. Pierre Angelac says:

    Using Grand Marnier and Cointreau for a Cadillac Margarita is great, bur for a quite surprising good taste, use Mandarine Napoleon instead of the two, or mix to your taste. You may, like I did, get addicted to it.
    Happy Cinco De Mayo ! ……….. Oh ! No ! That’s when the Mexicans did throw the French out ! LOL !






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Ha!

  5. Matthew Carlin says:

    A silver/blanco tequila has not been aged at all. A reposado has been aged for 2 months to a year. An añejo tequila is aged more than a year.

  6. Chuck says:

    Great drink recipe. I personally like it over rocks, but just my preference.