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The Christmas margarita is the best holiday drink! This brilliant cranberry spin is irresistible and perfect for festivities.

Christmas margarita
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Looking for a Christmas cocktail that’s fun and a little…unexpected? It’s not often that tequila features in holiday cocktails. But this one is absolutely stellar: try the Christmas Margarita! Why not bring everyone’s favorite drink to your holiday festivities? This one keeps all the character of a classic margarita and adds cranberry juice for a vibrant color and sweet tart nuance. With a garnish of fresh cranberries and rosemary, it’s holiday perfection. We created this drink especially for a virtual holiday party with our friend Sierra: it could not be more festive!

Also try: Christmas Martini, Bourbon Christmas Cocktails or Vodka Christmas Cocktails

What’s in a Christmas margarita?

Who doesn’t love a good margarita? (No one.) This classic cocktail is one of the most iconic in the world: it was invented in the 1930’s and is even more popular today. In fact, the classic margarita is on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. This means there’s an “official” definition of how its made: it’s just three ingredients: lime juice, Cointreau, and tequila.

The Christmas margarita is a spin-off on the classic. We’ve kept all the classic ingredients and added 100% cranberry juice. Because it’s unsweetened and very tart, we added a splash of simple syrup to balance things out. Here’s what you’ll need to make a Christmas margarita:

  • 100% cranberry juice
  • Tequila (use blanco or reposado)
  • Cointreau
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Simple syrup or maple syrup
Christmas margarita recipe

100% cranberry juice vs sweetened: what to know

When you’re shopping for the cranberry juice for your Christmas margarita, make sure to find 100% cranberry juice, which is unsweetened. You can easily find it at most grocery stores, but it’s right next to the sweetened cranberry juice. Here’s what to know for when you’re shopping:

  • Sweetened cranberry juice aka cranberry juice cocktail has added sugars and sometimes high-fructose corn syrup as sweetener. This type of cranberry juice has been available since the 1940’s for making classic cranberry cocktails like the Vodka Cranberry. However, we like using the modern 100% juice.
  • 100% cranberry juice is unsweetened and made only with cranberries: no added sugar! The benefit? The color is brighter, and you can sweeten your drink to taste.

Did you buy unsweetened? That’s ok, just don’t sweeten your drink as much. Use half of the simple syrup in the recipe below — or even add it to taste.

How to make a salt rim

Of course, a perfect Christmas margarita needs a salt rim! Why is salt used in margaritas? Salt brings out the sweet and sour flavors in the drink. Plus, it’s ultra classic. For the Christmas margarita you could also make a sugar rim if you’d like! Just use superfine or granulated sugar and follow the instructions below. Here’s how to make a salt rim:

  1. Use kosher salt or flaky sea salt (not table salt!). These types of salt are chunky and make for just the right texture on the rim. Or, you can make festive Margarita Salt!
  2. Take a lime wedge and cut a notch in the middle. Then slide it around the rim of the glass. This moistens the rim without having to use your fingers.
  3. Rim the outside edge only. Spread the salt on a plate in an even layer. Tilt the glass into the salt so that it sticks to the outside edge. Shake off any loose salt into the sink.
Christmas margarita

How to make a Christmas margarita!

Once you’ve rimmed the glasses, making a Christmas margarita is very simple: all you have to do is shake the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker! Here’s what to do:

  1. Rim the glass with salt. See above!
  2. Shake in a cocktail shaker. Shake the cranberry juice, tequila, lime juice, Cointreau and simple syrup together with ice in a cocktail shaker (or use a mason jar with a lid).
  3. Strain into a glass and add ice. Strain it into a glass and serve with ice! You can also add fresh cranberries and a sprig of rosemary as a beautiful garnish. Speaking of ice…

Step it up with clear ice

Want to have the most beautiful look for this Christmas margarita? Look in the photos: see that beautiful crystal clear ice block that looks like it’s cut off a glacier? It’s called Clear Ice. Clear ice is artisan style ice that’s crystal clear, unlike normal ice that’s cloudy. It’s very easy to make at home: Alex created a method that we do with all of our cocktail recipes! Go to How to make clear ice.

Salt rim and clear ice

What to serve with a Christmas margarita

This Christmas margarita is ideal for holiday gatherings: especially a holiday cocktail party! Make it along with a Christmas Martini or Christmas Mule and some nibbles and appetizers! You can make up a holiday platter with some of the Christmas appetizer ideas below:

When to serve a Christmas margarita

The Christmas margarita is ideal for holiday gatherings in the fall and winter. It works as a:

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Christmas margarita

The Christmas Margarita

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5 from 2 reviews

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


The Christmas margarita is the best holiday drink! This brilliant cranberry spin is irresistible and perfect for festivities.


  • 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) tequila blanco or reposado**
  • 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) 100% cranberry juice (not sweetened)*
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Cointreau
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoonsimple syrup or maple syrup,* or more to taste
  • Kosher salt or flaky sea salt, for the rim (optional)
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice)
  • For the garnish: cranberries, rosemary sprig


  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 salt (or for a festive look, use Margarita Salt).
  2. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill it with ice. Shake until cold. Strain the margarita into the glass with the salted rim. Fill the glass with ice, garnish with cranberries and a rosemary sprig, and serve. 


*If all you can find is sweetened cranberry juice, use half the simple syrup quantity (or add to taste). 

**To make a pitcher of 8 servings, mix together in a pitcher: 1 ½ cups tequila, 1 ½ cups 100% unsweetened cranberry juice, 1 cup Cointreau, ½ cup lime juice, and ½ cup simple syrup. Add three handfuls of ice and stir until cold. Pour into individual glasses. 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

More Christmas drinks

There are so many great cocktails to serve in the holiday season! Here are a few ideas:

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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  1. Melissa R says:

    A really well-balanced, easy to drink, margarita!

  2. Alex Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!